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Vampire Diaries: Ian Somerhalder looks back on Damon's journey

‘This experience made me become a man,’ the actor shares with EW

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Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW

For more on The Vampire Diaries, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday and available here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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, Ian Somerhalder talks playing Damon Salvatore…

When I saw the pilot, I said, “This is definitely going to go.” And then the initial reaction and the ratings came and that was a pretty clear indicator that people were liking it and watching it. It ebbs and flows, but we’ve had a really substantial, consistent, loving fanbase.

For me, season 1 was just the pinnacle for Damon. That was the apex of the ability of this character to shine through story. I loved a lot of that stuff. That stuff was really fun. All the stuff with Damon and Vicki, the dancing in the Salvatore house.

In season 2, Damon sort of struggles to recognize who he is and he misses being human — there were some great scenes that came out of that. But I loved that season 1 stuff: The struggle of Damon to find his love only to learn the naiveté of love and that he was duped and that he’s not as good as his brother in the eyes of a woman that he fancied. So those types of struggles, they were real. But there has been an amazing string of very well written scenes throughout these periods of time. 170 episodes, that’s crazy. That’s a lot.

Damon has had a very fun time for a very long time. Damon’s had a great run. He’s had a lot of great lines, he’s had a lot of great scenes, there’s been a lot to do, and I learned a lot. I learned a great deal playing this character and navigating the waters of being on a big global hit network series.

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This experience made me become a man. It made me understand true social responsibility. It taught me how to operate in this business so that I can now go on and become a storyteller. I got to meet a lot of amazing people. It’s given me the ability to work with great people and have a family here in Georgia. Those are amazing relationships. I love these relationships. I’m almost a 40-year-old man. I started this show when I was 30. Paul’s 34, I’m 38. We became men. That’s cool.

This hands down has been a very powerful and amazing experience.

—As told to Samantha Highfill

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