Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…

Image Credit: Jesse VendettaTV fans are still getting to know the name Dawn Olivieri, but they may recognize the actress as tattoo-laden Lydia from Heroes‘ fourth and final season, or as Janice Herveaux, Alcide’s sister who helped turn Sookie into a biker chic in season 3 of True Blood. Currently, she’s known as The Vampire Diaries‘ Andie Star, the local TV news reporter Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is compelling to be his girlfriend and blood donor. If, like us, you’ve been confused about how much Damon is actually forcing Andie to forget, Olivieri is happy to explain: “The only time you’ve seen Andie herself, really, was the beginning of the bathtub scene,” she tells EW. “From that moment on, it’s almost been a constant hypnotism. Ian and I talked about this a lot. How do we play this? Instead of moment-to-moment compulsion, it has a longer effect on her, so that it does enable them to have these conversations and this relationship. It’s almost like Andie’s split in half because she’s got this one part of herself that’s just being created with Damon, and then her real self is locked away and is not getting a chance to partake in the reality that’s happening.”

So it’s like the Andie that’s with him knows what he is and what’s going in and has been compelled not to be afraid of it or disclose it, but the real Andie inside can’t process it? “Exactly,” she says. “There was a moment the morning after the bathtub scene, in last week’s episode, when she was walking out and putting her scarf on, and she looked in the mirror for a second. I purposely paused because it was almost like the Andie that’s hidden and can’t come out and the one that’s being hypnotized through the compulsion see each other for a split second. Right now she feels like a drone. She’s just doing whatever she’s told, and she doesn’t ask any questions, and there’s no fear, nothing. It depends on where the writers go with it. But I want more moments where she comes to from that sleep for a second before he puts her back under again. Eventually, what does that lead to? It creates an interesting struggle for Andie, and the awareness then makes her able to then utilize the characters of a reporter and dig up some information. That’s what I would like to see.”

In this Thursday’s episode, Andie suggests Damon and she host a dinner party for Jenna, Alaric, and Elijah — and Damon decides he’s going to try to kill Elijah. “You really see how interwoven they’ve allowed Andie to become. Allowing her to be the hostess of this night, you also see the level of compulsion that she’s working with, how that affects her, and what she’s doing to almost be an unknowing accomplice to the situation,” she says. “It’s a funny situation because you have this new character that comes out of nowhere, and now all the sudden she’s best friends with Jenna, and everyone knows her, and she’s taken a seat at the queen’s table. It’s shocking everyone, especially all the fans who already have their couples picked out. Here’s a new one. I’ve heard it termed the ‘Dandie.'”

Has she taken another dip in Damon’s bathtub? “I’m sure it’s coming, but not up to this point. They’ve had some storylines, especially in this next episode [when Stefan tells Elena about he killed her ancestors when he first became a vampire], that really come to a head, and they don’t involve Damon and Andie making out in anymore bathtubs,” she says. “I go back next week to shoot another episode. I don’t think they’re gonna waste doing that just once.” Not that she’d mind it. She’s known Somerhalder for a few years, having met him in Vancouver when she was in town filming a 2008 guest spot on Stargate: Atlantis. “We had a really fun night with a mutual friend. We went drinking, and we had a blast. They were playing the Doors, and they were dancing all over the place for me. That was my first time ever meeting Ian. So if you can imagine what that was like, it was a pretty fantastic event that I beared witness to.” That shared sense of humor is what got them through the awkwardness of shooting their makeout scene — it turns out Olivieri’s boyfriend Bryn Mooser, who’s currently building a school in Haiti with Artists for Peace and Justice, is actually good friends with Somerhalder. “We text him during our makeout days, and we send him pictures,” she says. “I’m sure boyfriends love that. It’s a twisted reality that only actors have to deal with, I think. Never in anyone else’s life would you be texting your boyfriend while you’re making out with another guy and everyone’s laughing. It’s my joke, if a W-2’s involved, then it’s okay. It’s excused.”

Her arc on The Vampire Diaries has no definite endpoint as of yet, but if the Showtime pilot House of Lies, written by Dirt‘s Matthew Carnahan, which she’s wrapping this week gets picked up, it could prove a problem. It’s a dark comedy based on the book House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn. Don Cheadle stars as Marty, a self-loathing highly successful management consultant from a top-tier firm who will use any means and anyone necessary to get his clients the information they want. Olivieri plays Monica, Marty’s crazy, pill-popping ex-wife whose firm happens to be No. 1, above his. “Dream role for an actress? I don’t know,” Olivieri says. “You get to kick ass at work and be the No. 1 closer at the No. 1 firm and Don Cheadle is the No. 2? And then you’re not only that powerhouse executive woman, you also have a drug addiction? I mean. Ha! Great. It’s like I get to play twins, and one’s evil and one’s nice. You’ve got Monica that kicks ass at work, but on the weekends is just a mess, and can’t handle custody of the child, and has run-ins with the ex all the time because as single parents understand, you guys are in each other’s lives forever.” Cheadle, she adds, is also a dream costar. “He’s not a selfish actor at all. It’s nice to work with someone like that. Even before a couple of our scenes, he was calling me on the phone wanting to discuss where our characters are coming from, how they knew each other, what they did the night before. That doesn’t always happen on sets. A lot of times you have very ego-driven actors and actresses that stay in their little world, and when you have a scene together, your worlds meet for a moment. But I don’t think that makes for a very good cohesion. Don really, really wants this thing to be great, and I think it will be. As an actor, you do so much TV, and some of it’s s—. It is. Everybody knows it. So it’s a nice breath of fresh air to work on something where the writing is on point.”

House of Lies going to series on Showtime could also throw a wrench in her returning to HBO’s True Blood, should she be asked. The networks are competitors, and well… “It would be an interesting situation given that Joe Manganiello is my ex-boyfriend,” she says with a candid laugh. “I don’t know if he’d be into that. I’m not sure. So we’re not holding our breath on that one… I know. Wrap your mind around that one for a minute. That’s kind of twisted and sick and weird that I’m playing the sister of some guy I dated. I don’t have that many boyfriends. Why do I get into these weird trifectas of confusion on all my jobs?”

Follow Mandi on Twitter: @EWMandiBierly

Episode Recaps

Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
The Vampire Diaries

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

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