by Ryan J. Downey
Next week's kickoff of "The Vampire Diaries" season four will be all about Elena's transition from human to vampire and nobody feels more responsible for that extremely unfortunate situation than Elena's old flame, Matt Donovan.
Speaking to Hollywood Crush by phone from the Northwestern Ohio farm where he grew up, Zach Roerig said his character will be at odds with Damon over the season three finale choice that saved Matt's life. He also revealed that Matt will make a pretty big sacrifice of his own, which will draw him even closer to the girl coveted by both Salvatores.
And (SPOILER ALERT!) Elena will drink Matt's blood! Zach also talked with us about some of season four's new cast members.
"Damon definitely blames Matt and doesn't think that Matt deserves to live," Zach explained. "Of course Damon, being the rage-filled-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy, comes at Matt. But thankfully Elena is there to defend him.
"Both Salvatore brothers make it clear to Matt that he needs to earn his survival," he added.
That idea will definitely motivate him to get even closer to Elena. "The thing about Matt and Elena's friendship is that it's kind of never been really seen on screen except for last year with the flashbacks. It's always been understood that they shared this childhood experience together. But now, the fact that Elena gave up her life for Matt; and then Matt allowing Elena to feed from him: it's just a like a sacrifice on both ends on an extreme level that brings them really close together."
By episode seven, which just wrapped shooting, Matt will even be Elena's date for the Mystic Falls pageant. Those big "everyone in the town gets together" events have increasingly become a source of shared good times for the actors on set.
"They're a blast. Everyone enjoys them. All of us don't get together and film. When we do, it's usually a three- or four-day shoot on location. Everyone's hanging out and having a good time together. It's kind of a nice reprieve from the grind."
Most of those cast members are now playing characters with supernatural elements—vampires, werewolves, hybrids, witches. Zach's character is one of the last people standing as, well, a normal person. And he wants it to stay that way.
"I think it would be a big mistake to make Matt supernatural, for his character and for the show, honestly," he offered. "There needs to be someone who has no facets of the supernatural world, whether it be a ring, a curse, what have you. It's a grounding element for the show."
Whether he'll come bearing supernatural gifts of his own or not, vampire hunter Connor (played by Todd Williams) will certainly shake things up in Mystic Falls. "Todd is a heck of a guy. He comes in being the new 'B.A.' vampire hunter. Previously our only vampire hunter was the history teacher," Zach said. "Now we have this 'Blade'-style vampire hunter. And not just because he's black, but because he's so badass. He's definitely a force to be reckoned with."
Zach cautiously revealed that Matt will have an "altercation" with Connor. "Previously Matt has been divided on whether he's with vampires or against vampires. But with Elena being a vampire, he's now on the opposite side of the law."
Phoebe Tonkin from "The Secret Circle" is another new arrival. She'll play Hayley, the werewolf who helped Tyler break his sire bond from Klaus. Phoebe starred on the Australian TV series "H2O Just Add Water" alongside Claire Holt (a.k.a. Original Vampire Rebekah) and the pair have remained tight, even moving into places in the same neighborhood in L.A. "Phoebe is a heck of an addition to the show. I haven't had any scenes with her, but I've hung out with her at work," Zach said.
Speaking of Rebekah, she'll be looking to buddy up with April (played by Grace Phillips) when Matt attempts to help Elena get reintroduced to high school life. April was friends with Elena a couple of years ago, but now they'll be at odds.
"I don't know how much I can talk about Matt helping Elena adjust, but he's definitely a confidant for her, with the awkwardness of being at school and the transition to being a vampire," he said. "As far as April goes, everyone is kind of surprised to see her. Jeremy and Matt run into April at the same time. Neither one of them recognize her because she was this little girl to them that Elena used to babysit who has now arrived back at school kind of grown up."
Growing up will definitely continue to be a major theme as "The Vampire Diaries" season four rolls on.
"Every TV show in the history of them has a season where things drastically change and this season is definitely it, with Elena becoming a vampire and also, because it's senior year," observed Zach. "Who goes to college? Who stays in town? What are their reasons for staying in town? When we get to season five, it will be a completely different show."
And where would Zach like to see Matt end up by season five? "I want to stay involved with the main plot of the show so I have to be realistic about what I would want for Matt as far as him staying involved," he noted with a laugh.
"I don't think Matt would go to college, even if the main group went to college, because at the end of the day, someone has to stay back in Mystic Falls. I think you'll start to see a different pride in Mystic Falls start to emerge from all of the main players in the show; taking pride in the fact that it's their home, their town. They want to stay there and defend the purity of it, whatever is left. And there's one character that's not going to be ready for college: Jeremy. Jeremy will still be in high school. And this season especially, you start to see a brotherly love emerge between Matt and Jeremy."
"The Vampire Diaries" season four begins Thursday, October 11, at 8/7c.
Where would you like to see Matt end up this season? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!