Another set of exit interviews … this time with Parade Magazine.
All good things come to an end and such will be the case tonight when the series finale for The Vampire Diaries airs, bringing the hit CW series’ eight-year run to a close.
The night begins at 8 p.m. ET/PT with a one-hour retrospective, featuring interviews with past and present cast members and guest stars, a conversation with executive producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, behind-the-scenes footage from the final season and special moments from the past eight years.
Then Old Friends, the series finale episode, airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT when Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) must fight their greatest enemy for one last battle, which will determine the fate of Mystic Falls.
But before tuning in, check out the interview with Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Michael Malarkey (Enzo) and Zach Roerig (Matt Donovan) in which they share their favorite memories of the show, their feelings on reading the final script, what they took as a remembrance from the set, the return of old cast members, the possibility of a reboot, and more.
What is your favorite memory from the past eight seasons?
Paul Wesley: Off the top of my head, I don’t really have a favorite memory, but in the general sense, as an actor, you audition for something, you get a job, you shoot that job, and then you go away and shoot the next job. It all comes and goes. And with something like this, I never knew walking into that room that it was going to be eight years of my life. I started the job as a certain kind of person, and I left a completely different person. It’s shaped my entire existence, or at least a lot of my formative years, my 20s. This show is going to forever be ingrained in my personality, which is a major deal. I didn’t sign up for that when I walked into the audition, but I’m very grateful for it. It’s amazing! I’m scarred for life.
Ian Somerhalder: You have to realize that it’s 171 episodes, at a minimum of eight days per episode and sometimes ten, so you’re looking at hundreds and hundreds of days. The newness of it, in the beginning, was really special, with the bonding of this cast and crew. That’s what you miss most, when you leave these things. It’s not performing every day, or the writing. You miss the cast and the crew. You miss all the people who make it work because you, effectively, become a family.
Paul and I have been joking for years while we’re killing each other or staking people. In the middle of it, all of a sudden, there’s a fart joke, and you’re just hysterically laughing while everyone is covered in blood. There were these really funny juxtapositions, and there are just too many to count. It’s an era of our lives. I’m 38. Eight years of that is a substantial part of your life.
Paul: We watched Episode 5 in my apartment, with a bunch of people. I think that’s when we were like, “Oh, this show is pretty good!” It was this episode called “Lost Girls.”
Ian: It’s my favorite episode, ever.
Paul: Mine, too. Ian and I watched the episode together, and that’s when we were both like, “This is really good!” That was a great moment.
Zach Roerig: My favorite memory would be the pilot. A lot of us were very young, and it was early in our careers. There was a certain excitement. There was an electric buzz in Vancouver that we all felt, especially around the casting of Stefan. Most of us were there in Vancouver, waiting to see who they were going to cast.
I remember Kayla Ewell and Nina [Dobrev] floating around pictures on their phones of who they might pick, and I saw a picture of Paul. It was the beginning of the very formative years of all of our lives, I guess. Vancouver definitely sticks out in my mind.
Michael Malarkey: For me, it was also the beginning. That first episode that I shot, with Ian in the cell, felt like we were shooting this little short film. All my scenes, we were shooting together, and we just had this instant connection and understanding of each other. When you come onto a show late in the game, it’s rare that you have that synergy with one of the main actors on the show. I found that, subsequently, with the rest of the cast and was embraced into this world. I feel like I’ve been there forever. It all started with that episode, so that’s my most pivotal and favorite memory.
In these final episodes, you had some returning cast members, like Melinda Clarke, Kayla Ewell and Nina Dobrev. What was it like to work with the returning cast again?
Zach: It was very fitting. It was nice having Kayla come back to say goodbye, as a friend, and getting to work with her again.
Paul: And on that note, I think it would be strange to not have Nina come back for the finale. The whole story is about two brothers, essentially, fighting over a girl. Obviously, there were a bazillion other storylines, but I felt like it would have been a real shame for the fans and for the show not to wrap that up to a degree.
Obviously, you can’t reveal the events of the series finale, but can you talk about your reaction to reading the script?
Paul: I read the script on the plane. It was just a culmination of so many emotions. I was like, “Okay, this is the last script I’m ever going to read for this show.” I got a bit teary-eyed, and I’m a cold-hearted bastard. I took a selfie of just a little bit of red eyes and I sent it to and Kevin and said, “Good work, guys!”
Ian: As I was going down it, I was ticking boxes. I was, “Look at how all of this is going to be summed up in one 44-minute episode.” By the way, I’m surprised we don’t have a two-hour finale. But I think people will be pretty satisfied. It’s funny, although I wasn’t on Lost the whole time, on road trips, I’ll walk into a convenience store or get gas, and people are like, “Hey, man, that f—ing Lost ending!” And I’m like, “That was eight years ago, man. I just want to get my gas and get out of here.” You’re never going to able to satisfy everyone, but I think there’s a very beautiful orchestration to how this is laid out.
Michael: The thing is, with a long-running show, it interweaves itself into every watcher’s life. It means so much to them, for different reasons, hence why it could never fully satisfy everybody. Your own perception of your reality of that show has become greater than that show itself. But, I think we do it justice.
You all got to do so much on this show, and you got to go on so many different tangents with your characters. What were your favorite moments, in playing these characters?
Ian: I’ve been through a lot of it with Paul. We shot 171 episodes of television. That’s like 80 movies. Malarkey got there in Season 5, which was a pinnacle moment. Matt’s whole role changed, at the beginning of Season 7, with being the law of the land.
Paul: I’ve died 17 times and killed 18,000 people, and I’m still the hero!
Ian: There were enough seasons spread out that these characters had their specific times and days. I’ve just always loved Season 1. I think that’s when the show really solidified itself. All these characters were still innocent enough, to the viewer and to ourselves. We didn’t judge them.
Paul: In Season 1 and 2, there was so much mystery, which is why everyone watched the show. They were like, “What’s going to happen?!” But, those stories eventually run their course. And then, Season 3 was selfishly exciting for me because it was the first time in two years that I got to play a villain. Everyone has their favorite seasons, moments and storylines. For me, the introduction of Ripper Stefan and the genesis of that was the most exciting. As far as the show goes, Season 1 and 2, as a whole, was probably the most interesting, just because it was so new.
What was the atmosphere like, on set, for your final scenes?
Ian: Up until the second they yelled, “Cut!,” it was the same s–t. You’re still on a schedule.
Michael: Those bastards filmed the aftermath, though, when we did our speeches. I didn’t realize how affected I’d be. I’m all business when I get to work. I care deeply about what I do, and I just wanted to treat it like any other day, smash it, finish, and give Julie a hug. So, the last scene I was doing, I was pacing around, doing my thing, and then I heard this voice from Julie coming in the doorway, saying, “Michael, it’s time.” I wasn’t ready. But, she gave a great eulogy to everybody about our place in the show. I remember being pretty deeply moved by that. And then, they wanted a speech, which I sputtered through.
Zach: I had an emotional scene to end on, so I was trying to keep myself well-calibrated, and make sure my emotion was based on the scene and not because it was my last scene of the show. At the end, Julie could see my lip quivering and the snot bubbling, and she said, “Zach, this is a free one. Just let it rip.” And I just completely let it out. She gave us all a really nice speech that was very tender and very fitting to end with.
Paul: For my final scene, I finished and had my eyes closed, and someone sprayed Funfetti in my face. It was a direct shot, in my face. I was doing this emotional scene. I was crying, and then, all of a sudden, I had Funfetti in my eyes. It was really funny.
In a world of reboots, could you ever see yourself returning to this show, at some point down the line?
Paul: I think I’m closing the chapter.
Ian: In ten years, I’m probably going to be living on a ranch in Wyoming, and you’ll never hear from me again. I think it’s good to close this chapter. There’s something beautiful about closure. If you think about relationships, whether it be a job, a significant other, or an animal, people and things come into and out of our lives. There’s so much beauty in that, and how it affects us. Now, in this digital age, television never dies. It’s called Netflix. I remember going into Season 7 and, while our live numbers were plummeting, our engagement and viewership was actually going up.
Paul: There are kids who are just watching it for the first time, as if it had never been out before.
Ian: They were seven when it premiered, and now they’re 15.
Michael: There are also random countries in the middle of Asia, who now have access to Netflix. It does go on, in a way.
Ian: We live in airports. We travel a lot. And I have people, all the time – teachers, young people, anyone – who come up to me and say, “Oh, my god, I just started watching your show! It’s so good!” I also think, “That’s so crazy, man! You’re a 14-year-old kid! Eight years ago, you were six.” It’s never gonna die. We’re gonna continue to be able to watch it. I think that’s a really interesting, new thing with this modern digital world.
Paul: Wouldn’t it be funny, if we did a reboot and we were all old as s–t with grey hair. That wouldn’t work. We’re stretching it out, as it is.
Did you take anything from the set, once you were done?
Paul: I took my daylight ring – the one I’ve worn for eight years.
Ian: I took my ring.
Michael: I took a lot of clothes. And I took a suit.
Zach: I stole Matt’s boots. They show, over eight years, how much I stub my toes.