When we talked to Paul Wesley about this Thursday’s episode of The Vampire Diaries — the one in which Stefan mentions turning Elena (Nina Dobrev) into a vampire, bites his wrist, and may force her to drink his blood in a speeding vehicle — he hadn’t seen it. He had, however, received a call from TVD exec producer Julie Plec to tell him the intense moments between Stefan and Elena were some of her favorite scenes. “He’s essentially kidnapping her,” Wesley says. “There’s layers of humanity, regret, and sadness in his eyes, but it’s all sort of masked by this sociopathic, raging maniac who’s scaring her to death. His relationship [with Elena] is sort of the antithesis of what it was, which was this really romantic, soft, protective relationship. Elena is the key to everything [in his battle with Klaus], and Stefan will go to any extreme to get what he needs, which makes him much more terrifying.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s an interesting turn in Stefan’s arc that it’s after his humanity begins to creep back in and he saves Damon that he becomes more of a villain than he ever was when the switch was fully in the ‘off’ position.
PAUL WESLEY: He reveals that if he lets any emotions or feelings in, all he feels is deep pain and regret, so he doesn’t want to go there. He’d prefer to just sort of rationalize it by being… incredibly hostile. [Laughs]
Are we going to cry watching this episode?
Who’s we? [Laughs] It depends on how susceptible you are to the Stefan-Elena love story/tragedy.
Well, I talked to Plec about scenes on the show that have made her cry, and you got us both with that call Stefan made to Elena on her 18th birthday — and you didn’t even speak.
Ah, that’s cool. I think any time anybody sees the bad guy show emotion and you’re not hitting the audience over the head, there’s always a tinge of empathy for that individual. So if we did it correctly, and Stefan shows his humanity in the most subtle ways, and we don’t hit the audience over the head with ‘Oh, feel bad for me, I’m a tortured soul,’ then I think it will be effective. But again, I haven’t seen it. But supposedly it’s great. [Laughs]
I was surprised that Stefan agreed to let Damon join forces with him so quickly in last week’s episode. What’s your theory there: Did he realize he needs minions like Klaus has, or was it simply better to give Damon something to do so Damon doesn’t do something on his own that jeopardizes Stefan’s plan?
It is interesting: In that scene, all of the sudden he’s like, “You want in? Okay, I’ll let you in on this.” Maybe it’s because he wants to be closer to Elena. Maybe it’s because [this is the one time] you keep your friends closer than your enemies. It’s his brother. They’re buddies. You can justify it so many different ways. I really have no idea.
Early in season 2, you sat down with Plec and said that while you love Stefan’s heroic side, as an actor, you’d love to dirty him up a bit. She told you she and Kevin Williamson already had that in the works. Has this arc turned out to be everything you hoped for?
Yeah, I don’t want the arc to end. I don’t want to go back to being the good guy. Look, Julie said we’re gonna milk it as long as we can. I also understand that things get old. Hopefully this is still new and fresh. You know, he was the good guy for two years. Maybe I can do another two years as the bad guy to balance it out. [Laughs] I think everybody likes playing the bad boy.
And everybody likes watching the bad boy.
I was talking to Torrey [DeVitto, his wife, who’s now recurring on the show as Dr. Fell], and she’s like, “You know, I watch Vampire Diaries all the time. I’ve always enjoyed watching Stefan. But now that you’re playing him as the bad guy, it’s, like, infinitely more entertaining and pleasurable to watch.” [Laughs] I’m thinkin’ to myself, it’s so funny, you’d think the girls would enjoy the good guy, the hero, the protagonist. But it’s like, no, that’s why nice guys finish last. [Laughs] It’s really true. And as an actor, it’s just so much more enjoyable.
With Stefan, it’s really the best of both worlds: He’s a bad boy, but we don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying him because we refuse to believe Good Stefan isn’t under there somewhere.
I refuse to believe that he’s not under there either.