Major spoilers for Thursday's episode of "The Vampire Diaries" lie ahead!
On Thursday night (March 12), "The Vampire Diaries" took one of its characters, Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), down a very unexpectedly dark, twisted path. But perhaps even more importantly, "The Downward Spiral" gave the series' star Ian Somerhalder his first job behind the camera.
MTV News chatted with Somerhalder over the phone about directing, his scenes with Bonnie (Kat Graham), and of course, that "Twilight" dig.
MTV: You got a crazy eventful episode your first time around! Was that just luck of the draw, or did you ask for this one?
Ian Somerhalder: Being a pillar of this show, I’m also very hard on the story... I begged and pleaded for an episode that was about main characters. The pillars of the show. I say this in all gratefulness -- we, as "Vampire Diaries," have put ourselves in a bit of a pickle, because we’ve started telling A, B, C, D, E, F, G story lines in one episode, and sort of packing so many things into one.
It dilutes a lot that we, as the actors, feel is the main core of the show. I just begged and pleaded for that not to happen. But who knows -- they were on schedule to write a good episode, and they did, and I’m just thankful that I didn’t have five guest stars that I had to contend with. It was about us, it was about the main, core characters on this show, and I’m just so thankful that I got lucky and got to do that.
MTV: Specifically with Candice, this was a huge departure for her character. She was your beacon; always the "good guy." How was it directing her, and having to push her to be this bad guy for once?
Somerhalder: Candice was so giving, and so willing, and vulnerable. It was truly a departure. And had Candice not known me... Getting an actor to trust a director in episodic television, and to make really bold choices like that, is difficult. Candice has a nickname for me, she calls me camp counselor, because I’m the guy who is always sort of like, "Hey guys, we’re going to do this, and then let’s do that." So over the years I’ve gotten that nickname, and I love it.
I’m thankful for it, and I’m so thankful that Candice really trusted me to explore those places; places that have some pretty substantial darkness -- but also to empower her. Candice and I started out early in season one with some very racy, weird stuff. I remember even asking Marcos Siega -- who is my hero, and I was inspired to shoot this episode the way Marcos used to -- [because] in my opinion, seasons one and two of this show were the best. That’s when Kevin [Williamson] and Julie [Plec] were still writing together, and Marcos Siega was still with us. He was our supervising producer, who pushed for depth and darkness, and scary. So I was hoping that this [episode] could be reminiscent of that, and I think we got as much as we could. Candice and Kat really turned out great performances, by pushing and layering.
MTV: Speaking of Kat, you two have been making magic together.
Somerhalder: Kat and I actually have amazing chemistry on set, and on the show, because we work with the same acting coach. This woman Ivana Chubbuck... Kat and I get to work with Ivana separately, and then we get to work on our own as individuals, and then together as a team. So there’s a lot of weird, awesome, secret communication between Kat and I as actors.
And actually, probably one of the reasons why you don’t see Bonnie and Damon together very much is because I don’t think that the powers that be want there to be much of a Damon and Bonnie storyline, or chemistry, because then it takes away from what I guess is supposed to be, or what people think is supposed to be, which is this whole Damon and Elena thing. I’m excited for Damon and Bonnie to have a relationship that is super layered and heavy... Bonnie and Caroline both, they’re taking their power back, man. They’re empowered, emboldened women, who are not going to take s--t from anyone… that’s where you get these super bold, awesome performances from these women.
MTV: What about Paul [Wesley]? He’d already directed you twice – did he give you any tips, or throw you any shade?
Somerhalder: Paul and I have each other’s backs in every way shape or form, literally. We’re so mean to each other, even though we love each other. I always told Paul I had his back when he was shooting and directing his episode, and he told me that he had mine. Basically, the shorthand with Paul and I is, I told him when he directed, "I’ve got your back. Don’t f--k this up. See you later." And he basically said the same thing to me. "I’ve got your back. Don’t f--k this up, man."
MTV: Finally, I have to ask about that "Twilight" dig. You clearly now have a personal connection to the franchise. [Via his fiancée, Nikki Reed.]
Somerhalder: There is a great “Twilight” dig in the episode. Michael Malarkey... directing and cutting Michael Malarkey in a scene in like slicing butter with a warm, hot knife. Just seamless. It’s the accent, it’s the prep, it’s the depth behind it... it was so awesome. And Nikki actually smiled a big smile when she heard that, so...