I remember at Comic-Con this time last year being part of an introductory press session for a new show on The CW. The execs were pretty high on this show and hoped Comic-Con would be the perfect springboard. That show was The Vampire Diaries. The press room ended up only half full. The show’s first panel didn’t go smoothly either.
“Our famous Comic-Con story is the hall we were in last year was one of the halls where people were lining up for future panels,” executive producer Julie Plec recalled in this year’s very crowded press session after the panel. “A lot of the audience in our panel were waiting for a really awesome and macho guy, guy panel that was coming up next [Mythbusters]. We screened the pilot and where I feel was the most romantic, beautiful moment of the pilot, him looking at her picture, the whole audience was just like ‘yech.’”
At this year’s 2010 Comic-Con, it was an entirely different story. The Vampire Diaries has gone on to be a huge hit for The CW, becoming in just one season their number one show in all categories, especially the coveted female 18-34 demographic that the network craves. The buzz at this year’s Comic-Con was very big as fans packed the WB booth for the cast’s and producers’ autographs and jammed into the cavernous Ballroom 20 for The Vampire Diaries panel.
Comic-Con 2010 panel, photo courtesy of Warner Brothers
Ian Somerhandler (Damon) certainly noticed the difference. “We just finished a panel with 4200 out there. It’s insane. It was so cool.” Nina Dobrev (Elena) also noticed. “Now people are watching the rooms are more packed, a lot more people opposed to 1100 last year, and that just makes us more excited because they’re excited and there’s a renewed enthusiasm.”
Executive producer Kevin Williamson had a more grounded perspective on the show’s success and their triumphant return to Comic-Con. “Well, it could have gone three ways. It could have gone really well like it did, or it could have gone really poorly, or it could have been right there, [on] the bubble and dragged its way to a pickup. Luckily we kind of struck a chord with the viewers on The CW and they watch it.”
So, now that the show is going into the next season with full momentum, what’s in store for season two? Everyone was pretty tight-lipped with spoilers and many of the actors professed that they had no idea. “I don’t know,” said Paul Wesley (Stefan) when asked about his character’s arc this season. “We’ve only written episodes one and two. So I don’t know what the arc is. But I do believe Katherine coming into play will bring out a lot of different emotions in Stefan and Elena leaning anywhere in the Damon direction is going to bring out a lot of primitive urges.”
Steven R. McQueen was more evasive when asked about Jeremy’s fate. “I can’t tell you,” he said with a wicked smile.
Okay, well how about Katherine’s sudden appearance in last season’s finale? Surely there must be something on that? Kevin Williamson was willing to talk. “When we do go into 1864, I think it’s our fourth episode, is our first flashback episode. We go back to 1864, sort of the scene of the crime we call it, where we saw when Katherine and Damon and Stefan have their relationship. [We’re going] to pick up what happened, what’s the next part of that story. I think all we showed was when the two brothers transitioned. And now we’re gonna, to back up a little bit, to show when Katherine first came to Mystic Falls, why she came. There’s a whole story there.”
The preview clip shown at the panel revealed that Katherine was coming back for Stefan. Paul Wesley hinted that may not be what it seemed. “Katherine is a very manipulative individual. What she says in episode one may not be continuous in episode two. And who knows what her intentions are.”
Kevin Williamson had another perspective on Katherine’s season two presence. “I think we are going to understand her. We may not like her, we may not be sympathetic towards her reason. It’s very important for me and all our bad characters that come on throughout the show, like when Anna first came on, remember she wasn’t a nice character. She kidnapped Elena, she did all these horrible things. She was doing it because she wanted her mother. We all understand that and it did make her a little sympathetic. Pearl came back, Pearl was an evil character and she was a villain but she had her reasons. She wanted her town back. She was doing it for her family and her friends and she got betrayed by Katherine. So, yeah, we will understand Katherine. We will understand what makes her tick and we will understand why she is home and why she’s there and as you saw in the trailer, she wants Stefan.”
Ian Somerhandler only speculated what would happen when Damon finds out he was kissing Katherine in the season finale, hinting that doesn’t happen in the first two episodes. “I think when he finds out it was not Elena he’s going to be really, really pissed off. And he’s going to feel like a complete idiot.”
So why is Damon pursuing this woman considering the fact she’s so awful? “I think as a young man he fell in love with this mesmerizing, beautiful creature and he was never able to forget about her. So he carried that like an idiot for 150 years and I think this season he’s going to figure out that the grass isn’t always greener. It’s not going to be easy on him. I look forward to this season for the challenges but I can tell you that it’s not going to be easy with him.”
“Stefan and Damon definitely each have duality within their characters,” explained Julie Plec. “Stefan is a very, very good soul who struggles with the dark side of the monster that’s buried deep within him and he’s always had that struggle and he’s going to continue to have that struggle. Damon, who amidst the haze and the acts and wants you to believe he is the darkest person struggles with the hero within, struggles with the fact that deep down he does have that light. And then you have Katherine and Elena in the middle of it who’s the embodiment of that duality. She’s [Katherine] just nasty for the blood and Elena’s just a strong, compassionate, caring person.”
What does Nina Dobrev (Elena/Katherine) think about playing this dual role? “I think I have the coolest characters on TV right now. Because it’s so hard to play the one character that’s multi-dimensional and fun and I found two and they’re so different. I get to be nice and sweet and crazy and psychotic at the same time.”
Plec out of everyone I spoke with best summed up the whole Damon/Stefan/Katherine/Elena situation, using an inside joke. “The love triangle becomes a square.”
The Other Characters
Cast and producers at Comic-Con 2010, photo courtesy of Warner Brothers
Another tease for this season was that the secondary characters would get stronger story lines. “We have Tyler Lockwood and the whole Lockwood family curse,” explained Plec. “The Lockwood family curse is something we’ll learn, this is back in 1864 and nobody knew about it. A lot of little hints and tidbits about the werewolf mythology. Our vampires learn about it and what they do about it. And I’m really excited to see all the other characters that maybe didn’t get as much to do last season will have a lot more to do this season.”
Matthew Davis (Alaric) was pleased about his character’s prospects, even though he like the others was tight lipped about what happens to his character in the season premiere. “I know this partnership with Damon is going to continue so you’ll see more of that. I know that they’re going to begin to develop Alaric’s romantic interests.”
Michael Trevino (Tyler) admitted he knew that his character would eventually turn into a werewolf when he got the part. Was he excited that will become a reality in season two? “I’m excited but as much as I am excited I’m nervous and scared to death. There’s Twilight werewolves that are gigantic and then you have Tru Blood wolves are the shapeshifters so there’s going to be comparisons so we’ve got to bring it.”
Whatever is in store, everyone seemed very enthusiastic about the new season. Now that the first season kinks that plague any series are worked out, it’s full steam ahead. Nina Dobrev closed our session by promising this: “You guys are in for a treat. The first episode is amazing.”
Love squares and werewolves. That’s all I needed to hear. Bring on season two and all the surprises with it!
Other Sound Bites
Ian Somerhandler on the core of his character Damon: “Let’s get one thing straight about Damon. Deep down he’s a very lonely, very unhappy guy and he’s misguided in many, many ways. But he was in love to the extent that it makes him blind. And I think that, having said that, Damon uses humor, we all use humor as a Band-Aid. It’s a medication for pain and he uses it a lot. And I think that at the end of the day when Damon is sitting by himself in the Salvatore mansion in the corner somewhere drinking a blood cocktail with a little kettle, I often wonder when there’s no one to joke with, where his sadistic personality doesn’t have time to distract someone, I think he’s probably, inherently annoyed with himself.”
Nina Dobrev on preparing for dual roles: “You know a lot of it is not preparing. You have to be real. I think Elena’s a real girl and I try to be as natural as possible with her and for Katherine I get to be as free as I want to be. She’s unpredictable and I don’t want to plan anything too much before it happens.”
Matthew Davis on Alaric’s relationship with Damon: “The bromance is absolutely blooming and I’m curious to see where Kevin takes it. That should be fun. I love Ian. I love him to pieces and we have a great time working together. I think that definitely comes across in our scenes.”
Steven R. McQueen on Jeremy’s personality: “In the beginning Jeremy reacted emotionally. He wore his heart on his sleeve but at this point, he’s cold to the world. He sees the world for what it is and reached the mindset that you can only be pushed around for so long before you push back. Start to fight and see the world for what it is… I feel the reason that Jeremy really does hold on emotionally is because he has nothing.”
The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursdays at 8pm on The CW. The season two premiere is on September 9th.