“I was actually told not to,” he told MTV News. “I think by virtue of the fact that they may be deviating very often from the books and not to be married to whatever was in those books. But now I’m checking it out.”
What little he has read, however, has helped the TV vampire find his inner teenage girl. “It’s on my bedside table. I feel like a young girl when I wake up,” he joked. “Grab my coffee and open ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ ”
One major deviation from the book is the nationality of vampire brothers Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Somerhalder). In the novel, they hail from Renaissance-era Florence, Italy. And on the show, though they’re still named Salvatore, it appears that they spent their human lives in Civil War-era Virginia.
But Somerhalder thinks that will play out just fine on the small screen. “Because I don’t speak Italian accent, and they just decided that would be problematic,” he joked of the decision to Americanize his character. “No, I don’t know [why]. I think we’re still Italian. We bear the name Salvatore, but I think it spins it more of an American sort of story.”
After the first episode, which debuted last week, it looks like viewers are drinking up that story in droves: According to the CW, 4.8 million viewers tuned in, making it the network’s biggest series premiere ever.
And the show definitely holds true to the supernatural sibling rivalry that drives all the action in the novels, and will be interesting to watch on the small screen. “I have a lot more power ’cause I still eat people,” Somerhalder explained of bad-boy Damon. “And [Stefan] decided to stop eating people and lives off of squirrels and rabbits and mice, and so it makes him a lot less strong. He has a lot less power than I do, which may change at some point, which is going to be big trouble for me.”