Bob Mahoney/The CW
Phoebe Tonkin
January 20, 2017 AT 09:30 AM EST

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, Phoebe Tonkin remembers the introduction of Hayley…

I knew I was going to do the Vampire Diaries spin-off from the moment I signed up. So whatever character I was going to play on Vampire Diaries was going to be in the spin-off if we ended up being able to shoot that pilot. I knew that. No one else knew that, so it was hard to keep that a secret. I think everyone was like, “Who is this Australian girl?” And I’m like, “I promise I’m going to be sticking around for a while!”

It was a real whirlwind because even though I was on on Secret Circle, it was in Canada and so I didn’t actually have a Visa until the day before I started work on Vampire Diaries, so all I was really focused on was getting to Canada, getting my Visa, and making it back in time to shoot my first day.

My first day was with Michael Trevino and Joseph Morgan, and luckily I kind of knew a lot of the cast — it didn’t feel like I was walking completely into a new environment, and everyone was so welcoming. My first scene was where we meet Hayley, and the second scene I did that day was with Joseph where we meet for the first time.

On Vampire Diaries, in one day, they’re shooting two episodes, and the scene with Joe, he was needed on another set so my actual lines are to a stand-in and not to Joseph because he was needed doing some other debaucherous activity on a different stage. So I had a very sweet stand-in read his line and I had to pretend it was Joseph.

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I definitely mainly worked with Joe and Michael. I did a scene with Paul [Wesley], I obviously did a couple with Candice [King], I did one scene with Nina [Dobrev], but none with Ian [Somerhalder]. I would have liked to have done one with Ian and then I would’ve had the whole trifecta of the gang.

There were a lot of days out in the beautiful Lockwood mansion, where it was me and Candice and everyone was there. Those were always for me the most fun days because that group is such a family and they have such a family dynamic. It was fun to be part of that.

I didn’t even really know much about Hayley when I signed on. I knew that she was a little mysterious, that she had a bit of a darker past. I didn’t know that much about what she was going to do while in New Orleans. That was all news to me as we got the scripts.

I remember Joe and I were kind of the only ones who knew we were doing the spin-off and we heard a couple of rumors about a baby. We really had no idea what the premise of the spin-off was going to be; we just knew it was going to happen. Then I remember hearing about the pregnancy and being like, “Well that makes sense why Klaus and Hayley had a little bit of a romantic tryst on a dining room table. That serves that purpose.”

It’s kind of crazy to think how long ago it was. I definitely remember The Originals backdoor pilot. That was the first time I started working with Daniel Gillies and we shot a little bit in New Orleans.

I remember the fan reaction to Hayley wasn’t particularly positive. I was essentially coming between the two stan favorite couples, Tyler and Caroline, and then of course, Klaus and Caroline. And then when Hayley sided with Klaus and he killed all those people on her behalf, the fans were definitely very vocal. I remember I was very scared about what the reaction was going to be to my first airing night, but I definitely think that with The Originals we’ve luckily been able to explore the character and her reasons for doing certain things and making certain decisions.

Obviously, my time on Vampire Diaries was very special and was a big launching pad for the next four years of my life. I’m very, very grateful.

— As told to Samantha Highfill

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

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