By Mandi Bierly
Updated December 17, 2010 at 08:32 PM EST

Image Credit: Annette Brown/The CWHearing that Michaela McManus originally auditioned for the role of Rose on The Vampire Diaries makes that scene in last week’s midseason cliffhanger, in which her werewolf Jules took a bite out of vampire Rose, somehow more delicious. Having wrapped for the holidays yesterday, McManus (One Tree Hill, Law & Order: SVU) phoned us this afternoon so we could get to know the newest arrival in Mystic Falls a little better. Yes, Jules will be sticking around for a while when the show returns with new episodes on Jan. 27. McManus — who auditioned for Jules, found out that same day she got the part, and had one day before she was on a plane to Atlanta — says she’s filmed another three episodes and doesn’t know when her arc will end. “I’m always curious every time we get a script. It’s like, Hmm, what’s gonna happen to Jules now.”

So what did we learn? We’d do well to remember that exec producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec don’t write one-dimensional characters: “The fans don’t really know how to respond to Jules because as much as she is tough and a threat to Damon, she is also coming back to avenge her friend’s death, so you can’t really blame her for that,” McManus says. “She’s not outright crazy or mean. She’s just trying to protect herself and get back at Damon for what he’s done to Mason.” So does Jules want to make the ancient battle of the beasts her war, or is she just a provoked pacifist like Mason? “There’s this centuries-old feud between vampires and werewolves because they’re a threat to one another, and she definitely harbors a little bit of that,” she teases. “But the thing about Jules is, she has a sensitive side. She has to live with being a werewolf and every full moon transforming into this beast who wreaks havoc, but it’s not something she’s proud of or happy with. I don’t think she’s the kind of werewolf that just likes to go around tearing up people. She definitely has a hard time with it.”

Asked if she’s gotten to film a transformation scene yet, she says she’s shot a partial one: “Coming out of it is what I filmed. When they turn, they transform into this beast, and the morning after, it’s discovering what happened last night. It’s kind of like blacking out when they turn. They’re not necessarily conscious of what they’re doing.” For the first time in her career, McManus is doing stunt work and she’s loving it. “Jules gets pretty physical, and I think people will be impressed with her skills,” she says. “[The show] is doing a lot more action. It’s something to tune in for.”

Michael Trevino, who plays Tyler, told EW last week that Jules wants to take Mason’s nephew under her wing. “She feels kind of responsible for what happened to Mason, and he was this special person to her. So knowing that Tyler is there and he’s unprotected, she wants to take over for Mason and make sure that nothing happens to him,” she says. “She has good motives, I think.” (We’ll trust her, even though Trevino telling us, “She wants Tyler and she needs him — for what, I can’t say,” makes us cautious.) As for what exactly Jules’ relationship was with Mason, she’s not telling. (Did they live together? Did she sublet his place when Mason left Florida for Virginia? Or did she just have calls to his land line forwarded to hers?) But she says it’ll be made clear sooner rather than later. She’s also not revealing what Jules’ relationship is with Brady (Stephen Amell), another buddy of Mason’s who’ll come to town with a vengeance. “He’s a special friend, possibly, to Jules,” she says. Is Jules the kind of girl who has a lot of “special friends” we ask, hopefully. She just laughs. Not wanting to say anything that will set off a spoiler alert, she states the obvious: “His character is gonna bring a lot of trouble to Mystic Falls.”

From the promo for the Jan. 27 return, we know that Jules continues to face off with Damon (Ian Somerhalder), and McManus promises, even though Damon is feeling vulnerable with Rose, his “special friend,” going insane and presumably dying from Jules’ bite, he’s still the badass we’ve all come to love. “She’s after him, and he’s just as much after her. It’s really fun to see the two of them battle it out,” she says. “[Ian’s] so great. In real life, he’s such a charmer and so funny. When you’re working with him, he’s just completely unafraid to take risks. He changes things up, he’s always in the moment. It’s just a good time whenever I have a scene with him.”

Another reason we eagerly await the second half of the season — that much talked about shower scene Somerhalder recently filmed. There’s no chance Damon and Jules have a truce long enough for an unexpected romantic tryst, right? “It’s funny, because my mom actually emailed me when she read that story. She’s like, ‘This better not be you!'” McManus says, laughing. “‘That better not be you takin’ your clothes off!’ Hey, it’s The Vampire Diaries. They’re no stranger to spicing it up. So it’s possible. Who knows.”

Follow Mandi on Twitter: @EWMandiBierly

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The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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