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'The Vampire Diaries': Ian Somerhalder on saving Mystic Falls and the planet

October 14, 2010 |  9:36 pm

VD205_0512_bIt's been a tough season for Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder). He got rejected by both Elena and Katherine (Nina Dobrev) in one episode. And every woman in Mystic Falls -- Aunt Jenna (Sara Canning), Bonnie (Katerina Graham), Caroline (Candice Accola) -- seems to have issue with the guy. So why does Damon stay in Mystic Falls?

“That's the question I have,” Somerhalder tells Show Tracker. Perhaps it has something to do with his growing affection for Elena and the town that's become home again.

“[Damon] has things to protect now -- Elena and his brother and the town,” says Somerhalder, who also has a lot to protect in real life: the environment.

Recently, Somerhalder spoke with Show Tracker about Damon's unlikely friendships, why Elena will be the downfall of both Damon and Stefan (Paul Wesley), and his environmental activism.

This season got off to a running start and hasn't slowed down.
It's been pretty cool. It's been weird for me -- for Damon -- because it's such a departure from last season. Kind of the way [co-creator] Kevin Williamson broke it down for me when I called him, freaking out that Damon was kind of becoming soft, is that Damon isn't softening... He has things to protect now: Elena and his brother and the town. And Katherine is ultimately the villain. Damon became this unlikely sort of pseudo-hero just by virtue of the fact that he has to. That necessarily may not stick. It's been a very interesting, different side of Damon.

Damon's getting attached to Mystic Falls and its residents. Do you think that's dangerous or is that a positive thing in Damon's life?
It's a give and a take. Ultimately, I would say Damon and Stefan's need to protect the town, and namely Elena, is really dangerous for the both of them because the forces that could be are probably far stronger than Stefan and Damon could ever be. I think it'll lead to the demise of both of those boys. The love of a woman, the need to protect a city, town, state or person, has led to the death or pain of many, many, many throughout centuries. I would say it just depends on the perspective. I think it's a good thing that Damon actually has something to care for. I think it's a bad thing for him survival-wise. It's definitely a dangerous situation. Damon could disappear to the Caribbean or spend the next 150 years on the moon. It would be safer probably than staying in Mystic Falls.

You had an interesting line earlier this season about history repeating itself in Mystic Falls. Do you think there's something special about this town that draws supernatural activity to it?
In the books, yeah, there are what they call ley lines. There are certain places in the world that are kind of energy vortexes, which are phenomenal. Sedona is one of those places that there's literally like an energy vortex there. It's just a phenomenally powerful place. Cassadaga in Florida is a very similar place. The energy field around this town, without a doubt, attracts a lot of supernatural activity.

VD207b_0196b Damon's got really interesting dynamics with almost every character on the show. Is there one relationship that you like to play the most?
No. I love Damon's relationship with all these characters. In season one, I had amazing interactions with Caroline. While Damon was mean to her, they were really fun to play because I love working with Candice [Accola]. But typically, the people I spend the most time with are Stefan and Elena and Alaric (Matt Davis). They're all unlikely candidates to be friends, but I really value my time with each and every individual character. I think Alaric and Damon are probably the oddest bedfellows on the show. Damon interacts with everyone. He interacts with the Sheriff. He's got a cool relationship with her, with Alaric, with Elena. Katherine is not so fun because it kind of brings up a lot of the pain in Damon's life and, ultimately, in mine. While it's amazing to see Nina Dobrev as sexy as she is playing Katherine, it doesn't necessarily breed a lot of fun for me to play. ... They all interact with each other very, very well. I think it's getting more complicated and convoluted and dynamic. There's a lot of cool stuff happening.

In the new trailer, we see Damon, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) and Alaric working together to fight Katherine. Are they going to be able to overcome their differences or is that going to be a tense alliance?
Damon and Alaric, the funny thing about them is they are such similar individuals. They're kind of kindred spirits. They were both pathetically in love with a woman that didn't want them. They have so much in common that again, they're odd bedfellows, but they are kindred spirits. They have such a strange relationship where they truly appreciate one another. And Jeremy, little shit that he is, is Elena's brother. Damon would die for Elena. If anything happened to her brother, which is funny because he tried to kill him. He did kill him. He would never let anything happen to Jeremy. Never, never, never. He would protect Jeremy to the hundredth degree.

We've seen a friendship spark between Caroline and Stefan. Will Damon and Caroline be sharing more scenes?
I've definitely shot some scenes with Candace lately that were cool. I think as much as Damon wanted to kill Caroline, he can't for many reasons. But also, too, I think that Caroline is, now that she's a vampire, significantly stronger and it does pose many problems obviously. She could expose us. I don't think she wants to do that. I think that, if anything, Damon now could use her as sort of an ally, but he makes it known, “You know what? I've wanted to kill you from the beginning. And I'll do it in a heartbeat if you screw up. I will. I won't think twice about it.” It's definitely not something that would be a good thing, especially with his relationship with Elena.

VD203a_0156r Do you see redemption down the line for Damon? Could he be worthy of Elena one day?
Worthy, I'm not sure. Redemption, I hope. It would take a lot. But I hope so. I think that deep down he doesn't deserve her, but he would like to... It's like he said, “You hated me once and we became friends.” I hope that he can find some kind of redemption, but he screwed up. Big time. He's walking that line.

Julie Plec [co-creator] said at New York Comic-Con, “I think by the time the show is over, Damon will have had sex with every man, woman and child in Mystic Falls.” What was your reaction to that?
Everything that walks or crawls! No. I'm so joking. If it comes out of her mouth, then there's some truth behind it. [Laughs]

There's a masquerade ball episode coming up. Does Damon take a date with him?
No. Damon actually doesn't take a date with him. He and Stefan have a lot of stuff to deal with. Last year, when Damon came to town, every notion he had, every desire he had, there was a lot of cause and effect. There was a ripple effect to every action Damon made. Now, this season and however long it's going to go, it's synonymous with Katherine. At the masquerade, Damon and Stefan are kind of forced to deal with Katherine in a way which is not easy on anybody. She's as ruthless as Damon was in season one and more. She'll stop at nothing to get what she wants. It's just what she does.

You recently went to D.C. for the Washington Energy Summit. How did that go?
It was really, really cool. As a guest of the Washington Post -- and to meet with a really phenomenal charitable trust called Pew -- they welcomed me with open arms to share information that I had and try and put it to some good use, which spawned a pretty phenomenal relationship. ... I learned a lot and I was very, very honored to be there and I formed some amazing relationships with some great people. I am really looking forward to working very closely with Pew and with Conservation International on some very large-scale projects that they’re working on to ultimately help shape the future. I mean, it’s pretty big stuff. It’s unbelievable that I’ve been involved in this and I’m really grateful, and thankful, and humble, and to be honest with you, again, it goes back to fans. ... How do you make energy policy cool to a 14-year-old?  How do you do that?  Well, if you explain to the 14-year-old that in four years they’re going to have a voice, and a real voice, they’re going to be able to vote. Just look into it a little bit and educate themselves on what’s really going on around them, they can help shape their own future. I don’t think any generation, by virtue of this social media networking that we now have has ever had the ability to do that, ever. ... If there’s anything I can make or leave anyone, it’s that notion that we, by virtue of empowering the youth of America and the world that the world will ultimately win over special interests, over logging companies, over hydraulic fracturing like Halliburton and stuff. I mean, it’s just not fair. You know, we have so much technology. It’s like what happened with BP, you know, we can transplant a liver and we can land people on the moon. People are living in space.  We can cap an oil well, but we can’t figure out alternative means of producing energy. That’s why we started this company, Go Green Mobile Power. We literally started a green, portable power company that literally can provide off-grid power.

I read that you had some interest from Warner Bros. and the Mayor of L.A. about getting that technology. Have you had any progress with them?
We have. We’ve had a lot of progress. To be honest with you, I think my colleagues at Go Green are literally in Mayor Villaraigosa’s office right now. If not in his office, they’re meeting with him maybe where our generator is. ... Warner Bros. has not only just expressed interest, I think are actually moving forward with the idea of a three-phase power greening of the studio. There is a lot of interest that’s now turning into something that’s a lot more than interest. We are really excited.  Also, you know, when you’re dealing with foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that deal primarily with education, I can now go to them and say, “Listen, we can power schools in Africa using off the grid power that we can hook satellites up to.” ... This is 2010 and I’m really proud and excited to have this company that’s in the infant stages of its life that actually is going to be able to offer this type of stuff. ... You can drop them out of a helicopter or a plane with a parachute.  I mean, these things are so strong. ... So, it’s all moving and all happening. For my birthday, I’m starting a foundation and as a project, as a birthday project, I’m just going to ask people to donate my dollar amount, or my years in dollar amount to the foundation that will cover such a broad spectrum.

Do you have any plans to maybe take some of these environmental causes and issues and go abroad with them?
Yes. There’s a huge project that I just signed on to do with the Pew organization and Conservation International. When I wrap in April, I think I’m going straight to Africa and then, Central America and then, I’m going to Washington for a Congressional Delegation that is going to be totally crazy. But I want to be able to get in front of Congress and explain the ideas that we have and how to go about them and actually have them listen is a really, really, crazy thing that I’m really thankful to have that opportunity.

-- Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)


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Photos: Ian Somerhalder as Damon; Damon and Alaric (Matt Davis) team up; Damon with Elena (Nina Dobrev). Credit: Bob Mahoney; Quantrell Colbert; Bob Mahoney / The CW.