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Vampire Diaries: Zach Roerig calls his time on the show a 'healing process'

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Tina Rowden/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, Zach Roerig talks playing Matt Donovan…

I’d done pilots before and I was still a pretty young actor — I was 24 when we shot the pilot. I remember being in Vancouver with Ian [Somerhalder]. I tested with Ian and I just thought he was Captain Cool. I’d seen him do a play in New York and I was just enamored by the guy. In the hair and makeup trailer, Ian’s like, “Hey, kid, get ready for the ride of your life.” I locked it in because I felt the wheels spinning. I was like, “I think this is going to happen.”

RELATED: The 20 Best Episodes of ‘The Vampire Diaries’

We did a Hot Topic signing event at a mall in Kennesaw, Georgia. It was the first time we’d been to any sort of fan-related event, and the show hadn’t even aired yet. We walked into a mall and there were like 3,000 screaming fans hanging over the railings, trying to jump past security to grab us. We were all just looking at each other, sitting in front of these kids doing a Q&A and I think that was the day it all set in.

[Showrunner] Julie [Plec] has been really good about being the glue for all of our friendships, the story lines, the tangibility that you have with your character. Julie’s been the one constant throughout the entire show. A lot of things have come and gone, but Julie’s always been there, so I think she’s what’s really made it easy to connect to the characters for so long.

The stuff that I’m proud of and really enjoyed on the show would be last season, my work with Penny. That was really cool for me to be able to have a real connection with someone.

For me, not only has The Vampire Diaries been the longest job I’ve ever had, but it’s been a quarter of my life. I became a parent doing this job. It’s been a very healing process. We all started this show, almost all of us, in the midst of some sort of life turmoil, whatever it may have been. And somehow through these eight years we’ve patched ourselves up and are now ready to face the world again.

—As told to Samantha Highfill

The Vampire Diaries series finale airs Friday, March 10 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.