Coming in as a newcomer to a beloved show with an active, passionate online fan-base is an often unforgiving task, but "The Vampire Diaries" star Michael Malarkey stands out from the pack. Malarkey's character Enzo was the lone fan-favorite inductee to the show's universe in season five, and after a promotion to regular status last spring, fans will finally get the chance to see him again when Enzo returns to the show tonight (October 9) for its second episode.
But the real question is -- can Malarkey keep the love going once he moves in on one half of one of the fandom's most intense 'ships, Klaroline? According to the man himself, the daunting task is not one that he's particularly worried about.
"I'm not intimated by it," Malarkey told MTV News over the phone. "At the end of the day, I'm an actor. I just love coming into work and seeing what kind of scenes I've got, and what I'm going to do. I understand and appreciate where everybody is coming from with their shipping and everything, but I think everybody should be focusing on whether or not we're creating good drama, here. As long as we’re creating good drama, it shouldn't matter."
Hopefully, the playful banter and "opposites attract" tension between Enzo and Candice Accola's beloved Caroline should be enough to keep fans satiated, though of course, Malarkey pointed out that her all-American good looks will contribute to Enzo's feelings as well.
"She's kind of an alien to him," he continued. "He's an old English vampire who's been locked up. She is unlike anybody he's come across in his life before. Meeting her, it's been this crazy culture clash. But also, he appreciates her loyalty; the intensity with which she goes about getting what she wants, which is similar to how he goes about things. But also, she's gorgeous. You can't deny that."
The mechanics of why Enzo and Caroline come together should be encouraging to fans as well, since it at least partly involves the search for Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Why exactly Caroline goes off in search of a dead vampire whom she basically hated we do not know, but Malarkey promised that her motivations will soon be revealed -- and, perhaps most importantly, will result in an awkward dinner scene with Stefan (Paul Wesley).
"My favorite scene I've shot so far is in the upcoming episode," Malarkey revealed. "Strangely, it's a dinner date scene with Enzo, Caroline, Stefan, and Stefan's current fling, Ivy. It's scripted so uncomfortably -- so awkwardly -- and I think it will be pretty high-tension. I'm really excited to see how they cut it all together."
It must have come together just as awkwardly as it was shot, because Malarkey also said that Stefan and Enzo will come to blows over the search for Stefan's pancake-making brother.
"[Stefan] doesn't know the extent of Enzo and Damon's friendship," he said. "As far as he knows -- Damon's quite elusive about talking about his past – from his point of view, he thinks, 'Who is this pesky gnat?' Also, Enzo takes it upon himself to get under Stefan's skin a bit."
Interestingly enough, Enzo will also be paired up with Zach Roerig's Matt in the coming weeks, possibly to take on Mystic Falls' community militia menace, Tripp. Malarkey promised plenty of friction and some "pretty good banter" with the everyone's favorite human, but don't necessarily count on the do-gooder coming out on top:
"Enzo will stop at nothing to do what he wants, making out with anyone in his path," he said with a laugh.