Last season, The Vampire Diaries‘ Paul Wesley took a seat behind the camera for his directorial debut with “Resident Evil,” after which he let it slip that he had cut a shirtless Stefan scene. Now in season six, Wesley has returned to the director’s chair for this week’s “Woke Up With a Monster.” And although he might be more comfortable in his directorial role this time around, one thing hasn’t changed: He’s still cutting shirtless scenes.
Wesley talked to EW about his experience directing the episode, what fans can expect, and that shirtless moment we’ll never see.
EW: Did you find that directing was easier the second time around?
PAUL WESLEY: It was easier on me mentally. I’ll tell you why else it was easier: I literally had no locations. My entire episode was indoors, on the studio, so I didn’t have to worry about weather, I didn’t have to worry about the sun going down. It’s a rare, rare thing. But apart from the logistics of it, I was much more comfortable in the director chair. I really trusted the process and it was a really pleasurable experience. Not that the other one wasn’t; it just was like I felt more comfortable in my own skin, in a way.
Going into it, was there anything you knew you wanted to do differently from your first experience with directing?
I definitely let go of some control, and by that I mean you just let people do their jobs. And not that I didn’t do that on the last one—it’s just that I really wanted everything to go so well that I almost was mentally psyching myself out. [But] on this one I was like, “I know how this is going to go, I know what’s going to happen, I know what I’m going to do, and I know what everyone else is capable of, so I’m going to trust the process.” Don’t get me wrong, there’s still bumps in the road, but that comes with the job.
In this episode, we know Kai is hiding Elena. Did that mystical element present a challenge for you?
This episode in my opinion is a much more grounded episode. It’s actually not as mystical. There’s not a lot of mythology in my episode; it’s really about the more tender moments. The best and most exciting moments are the moments when we step away from all of that and we really get down to some beautiful interaction between two characters that is really intimate. What I love about my episode is that it is fast-paced, fast-paced, fast-paced, exciting, entertaining, and then it sort of slows down and there’s this moment of real tenderness, which I think is so important on our show. It’s all about the people and there’s some really beautiful moments and amazing performances. I’m excited about that interesting sort of juxtaposition.
Speaking of those moments, we know that Stefan and Caroline are headed to North Carolina. But Stefan is also secretly going to see Sarah Salvatore, so is he still being a good friend to Caroline?
Yeah, for sure. He really cares about her. He really loves her. That’s not even a question. That’s never really something that he doubts. But it’s true; in the story they go there together, but then they kind of separate. They kind of go their own ways to do their own things and investigate their own personal interests.
With Sarah coming into present day, how will seeing her affect Stefan?
I don’t really know what their relationship is like. We haven’t explored it a hell of a lot, but for me—it sounds a little weird since they look like they’re the same age—but it’s almost like his little daughter that he’s proud of. It’s like his little project. It’s almost like he’s her godfather. [He’s] like, “Okay, I’m going to look out for this kid.”
The last time you directed, you talked about taking out a shirtless scene. Were there any last-minute tweaks this time around?
I actually think I took out a shirtless scene again.
You did not.
I swear to God. Stefan wakes up and then he has to walk around the house and I’m like, “Does he wake up shirtless and then you want me to do like nine scenes shirtless, walking around the house? This is ridiculous. He wakes up, I need to put a shirt on.” That was my pitch. Because that’s what I would do. If I had to go downstairs and talk to [people], I would put a shirt on. It’s like the Playgirl mansion or something…
Ian Somerhalder is currently directing his first episode. Did you give him any advice?
You know, not really. He didn’t really ask me for any so I didn’t offer any. [Laughs] I think the biggest advice I would give to any actor who’s directing and also acting at the same time is don’t even watch your coverage. You do a scene and then, you know what you did, it doesn’t matter what you look like. Ask your DP if the focus was good, ask him if the shot looks good, trust your DP and move on. Otherwise you’re going to spend hours criticizing yourself because that’s what we do as actors. We’re never satisfied with ourselves. Maybe I’ll watch literally six seconds of it just to make sure that it was set up the way I wanted to, but other than that, I do not want to watch myself. I have no interest in watching myself act.
The Vampire Diaries returns Thursday, Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. on The CW.