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Vampire Diaries: David Anders remembers Uncle John

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Bob Mahoney/The CW

With one season left in The Vampire Diaries’ run, we decided it was time to start collecting everyone’s final diary entries. Every week during the final season, EW is asking those involved with the show to look back on one of their favorite moments from the series. So grab your tissues and join us on this trip down a vampire-filled memory lane.

This week, David Anders remembers Uncle John…

I initially took the part because I was already friends with Ian Over-the-Shoulder-Smolderholder and the opportunity to go to Atlanta and play with my buddy sounded amazing to me. So I joined the show to play with my buddy Ian, but it turned out to be the best choice I’ve ever made as an actor because they all are my friends for life and will always be. I love them all. It was just an absolute pleasure to play vampires with them.

When I got the news that Uncle John was going to be Elena’s father, that was a bit of a shock to me seeing as how I’m only seven years older than sweet, sweet Nina [Dobrev]. They told me that news and they were like, “Whatever you do, do not tell Nina about this.” I didn’t. I was a good boy and when they finally did tell Nina that that was happening, I remember she called me at like four in the morning and somehow my phone was on and she was just like, “What the? You’re just like a spit older than me, how does that work?” And I was like, “Well, I play older, as has always been the case in my career, and you play younger, so I guess it’s going to work.” That was a fun thing to play with.

And actually, the stuff where John was being a dad to Elena, that was fun for me. It was interesting because I’d never been a father in anything I’d ever done before, though he wasn’t the ideal father by any stretch. But my whole career I’ve played villains, so that’s kind of easy for me to do, so the opportunity to play something a little different, a little lighter was a great treat for me. But even then I was still trying to kill her boyfriend. 

It’s interesting because everybody hated my character until he killed himself. It was nice of them to give this much-hated character an honorable death. It was a bit unexpected. He was just finally coming into his own as a dad. He was owning his fatherhood. 

I think when they offered me the role, they said it’s going to be an extensive arc. I did like 15 or 17 episodes over two seasons, which was fine by me. I remember Paul Sommers, our wonderful director of photography, was directing his first episode and he’s the one who killed me. So that process was filled with a lot of apologies. But a lot of people died that episode. It was an episode of death.

John served his purpose. I think it was time, though I was truly upset because it’s such a tight family and for the first time in my life I was acting with people who were like my same age. I wasn’t the young guy. It was like, “Hey we’re all peers here, man. Let’s all learn together!” I was sad to leave the show, but it was fun while it lasted.

I lobbied [showrunner] Julie [Plec] to bring him back. I was like, “You don’t have to pay me, just let me come back to Atlanta and play with everyone.” She’s like, “Uncle John didn’t have any supernatural powers.” I was like, “He had a ring that brought him back from the dead, that’s pretty supernatural!” She was like, “Yeah but that was just jewelry.” So I gave up on coming back to the show. What do we got, 10 episodes left? Alright, I’ve got 10 episodes to get John back in the fray.

—As told to Samantha Highfill

The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

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