Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley on Stelena's season 2 split: I was 'dealing with my own stuff' on screen
Katherine Pierce's season 1 arrival in Mystic Falls changed everything for The Vampire Diaries… and for actress Nina Dobrev. Suddenly, Dobrev went from playing Katherine occasionally in flashbacks to pulling full-time double duty on the series as present-day Katherine and, of course, Elena.
"The first episode was just a couple flashbacks, and then they introduced her more and more, so I got to figure her out over the first season, and then season 2, once she was back and in the flesh and she was in a lot more of the episodes, it was crazy schedule-wise shooting both of the roles," Dobrev says in episode 2 of EW's Binge: The Vampire Diaries.
But Katherine's arrival didn't just make things crazy behind the scenes. Within the world of the show, the doppelgänger instantly created chaos, particularly for Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Elena. Katherine's goal was simple: She wanted the happy couple to split.
Stefan and Elena tried to fool her at first, but when that didn't work, Jenna (Sara Canning) ended up in the hospital, and Stefan and Elena were forced to realize that Katherine always gets her way. The result was one of the series' most devastating breakup scenes, which Wesley still remembers vividly.
"I remember doing at least four [takes] that were, like, pretty good," Wesley says on the podcast. "I also was dealing with a couple things in my personal life, so I didn't really want to go to dark places because I was trying to keep my head above water in real life, frankly. And so [director John] Behring kept pushing me. Maybe he sensed I was going through something and so he really wanted that on screen, and I remember just getting a little bit angry at him, even though it was his job. I would do the same as a director. When you're creating film or television, the whole point of it is to be honest and pure."
Ultimately, Wesley says he went to his "personal place" and channeled real-life emotion for the heartbreaking scene. "That crying, that whole breakup was [me] dealing with my own stuff, essentially, on screen. And then I remember after we shot it I was a little relieved, but then also a little bit angry that I had to deal with that and then I had to go home and deal with that," Wesley says. "But at the end of the day, it's on screen, it works so great for the scene, and I would do it again in a heartbeat."
For more on season 2 — and how the show has found a second life in quarantine — listen to the full Binge episode below. You can stream all eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries on Netflix.
To listen, subscribe to EW's Binge: The Vampire Diaries feed via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also subscribe to EW's YouTube page to catch all the video interviews, and stay tuned to EW.com.
Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.