With one season left in The Vampire Diaries’ run, we decided it was time to start collecting everyone’s final diary entries. Every week during the final season, EW is asking those involved with the show to look back on one of their favorite moments from the series. So grab your tissues and join us on this trip down a vampire-filled memory lane.
This week, Paul Wesley looks back on playing Stefan Salvatore…
I remember watching episode two and thinking, “This is pretty good.” The pilot was so much set up and there was so much over-analyzing and I was so worried about this and that, and you want to do well. There’s so much that goes into a pilot. You can’t view it objectively. And then I remember watching episode two and that was when it really hit me.
I think the show’s at its best when the stakes mean something. So I think seasons 1, 2, 3 were very real and all the consequences meant something. The show’s best when it’s able to do that and when people really do die and when tragic things do occur and there’s no going back. And I also think the show’s at its best honestly when it’s about the relationship between the brothers. The show’s really about brothers — two brothers fighting over a girl — but it’s really about two brothers and their relationship with each other and their story.
In season 3, I had been the hero and the good guy for two years and I think when they gave me the opportunity to become the anti-hero, to go against all the things that I had been stereotyped as and all the things that the character had personified, I felt like that was an opportunity to show not only a different range as an artist, but also, as someone watching the show, I thought, “This is great for the fans, to see their hero become the villain.” So that was exciting for me.
If there’s one thing I hope I learned from this experience it’s: When a show becomes really popular and people recognize you and come up to you, it’s really important to not forget that you’re an actor on a show and you need to have humility. I see a lot of young actors lose themselves and they really start believing it. It’s important to harness that energy and that power and use it for good, but I also think a lot of people these days take fame and it becomes about narcissism and ego. I hope it never got that way for me. But I would hope that, for me, regardless of what happens in my career in the future, I always want to maintain a level of humility. I think it’s so important to not lose yourself and to just understand that you’re a conduit.
–As told to Samantha Highfill