Kai Parker has a reputation in Mystic Falls. He’s the sociopath who killed Alaric’s bride (who also happened to be his twin sister). He’s the reason Elena will never see her best friend again. But man, is he fun to watch.
When Kai left The Vampire Diaries at the end of season 6, he was very dead. More specifically, Damon had decapitated him. But with the show’s latest development — the ringing of the Maxwell bell 11 times — it seems some of the people who were residing in hell are making their way back to the land of the living. And this week, it’s all about Kai. “We’re dropped back into where we were many moons ago,” Chris Wood tells EW. “Kai distrusts everyone and doesn’t really care for anyone. He has a soft spot for Bonnie but that’s probably about it. He’s selfishly motivated.”
For Wood, getting back into character as the snarky heretic who only cares about himself was less about preparation and more about living in the moment. Sure, he has a Kai playlist on his phone, but this time around, he didn’t need to listen to it. (For the record, it features a lot of early ’90s music and is both “scary” and “weird,” according to Wood.)
“In some cases, the less I think about it the better it turns out,” Wood says of playing Kai. “It’s one of those characters that the pre-planning of things doesn’t tend to work as well as in the moment. I put on his rings and his weird little wardrobe choices and it wasn’t too long before I felt super comfortable again and got to play around with everybody.”
But as playful as Kai might be, there’s a dark undertone to everything he does, mostly because the guy’s been in hell. If his time away from Mystic Falls has changed him, Wood says, “it’s only made him worse because he was in hell getting tortured, so he hates everyone and everything and the most we can hope for is that he doesn’t kill everyone.”
It seems Kai will only be allowed to stay in the land of the living if he does some particularly evil things, so expect him to bring his villainous A-game. “He’s on a quest for blood,” Wood says. “He realizes he needs to do some evil deeds to prevent hell pulling him back, and that brings out the worst in someone who is a psychopath. He’s basically given full permission to go and be as horrible as he can possibly be because that’s the only way that he’s going to be able to stay there.”
As bad as Kai might be, it’s all good for Wood, who’s thrilled to get to return to this character after a few years away. “This character is so fun,” he says. “I don’t think I’ll ever get to play a character like Kai again. I don’t know others that exist like him: The sociopath who gains empathy for the first time in his life. It’s just a very unique arc that you can’t really replicate outside of this Mystic Falls world. I’m so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to play him.”
The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.