Paul spoke with the Wall Street Journal about his first experience directing.
With just five days of filming left to complete season five of “The Vampire Diaries,” fan favorite Paul Wesley, better known as Stefan Salvatore, caught up with Speakeasy to discuss his directing debut. Fans will now get to see what their favorite vampire brother has to offer the other side of the camera in the coming “Vampire Diaries” episode titled “Resident Evil” airing on April 17.
Speakeasy: So you’ve acted, produced and now directed – are you positioning yourself as a triple threat?
Paul Wesley: I hate to say it, but I think I enjoy directing on “Vampire Diaries” more than acting on Vampire Diaries. I mean don’t get me wrong, I really love acting on the show, but there was just something about directing that really spoke to me and it’s really something I always envisioned myself doing.
I never really thought I would be a TV director. I always thought surely I’ll have directed my first feature by now, but that hasn’t happened because I’ve obviously been preoccupied for the last half decade filming “Vampire Diaries.” So the feature is coming soon, but this was a good start and I’ve got to tell you it’s really amazing to work with a polished crew and with amazing people supporting you. It was a great way to get started, I can tell you that much.
What led you to the decision to try directing?
Well, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I’ve always been a fan of film and I’ve always admired directors. It’s just something that is difficult to obtain. I actually always wanted to go to film school and I didn’t get a chance to because I started working as an actor at a very young age. I’ve just instinctively always wanted to try.
You’ve all been working together now for five years, so how did the other actors respond to you suddenly becoming the boss?
In a way that’s a funny word because you’re not really the boss. You rely so heavily on the actors, it’s funny. My entire episode is essentially dictated by how the actors are feeling and if they want to support me and I needed them more than they needed me. I was definitely kissing their a—-.
I was expecting them to maybe tease me a little more. I was really anticipating it, but no one really did anything, which was nice. In fact, they were all just incredibly warm and supportive and they were very respectful. It wasn’t like “Oh, I’m not going to listen to Paul” it was like “Oh hey, Paul’s been doing this for five years and we would really love to hear what he has to say.” It was a really nice experience.
Will fans notice any overall style changes in the episode you directed?
Not necessarily. “The Vampire Diaries” is a formula that works and it’s a very specific formula. I think that there are some things in my episode that are very interesting and unique. I tried to give my own spin on it, but ultimately the beats are still Vampire Diaries’ beats. The show is still “The Vampire Diaries” and there is only so much you can do as a director on a TV series. You really need to just follow the formula, that’s what you are hired to do to follow the formula that has been working really successfully for the last half a decade. You’re not shooting a pilot where you can create your own look and style. You’re not shooting a film. It’s an episode of a TV series so you can’t deviate. Otherwise you’re not really doing your job and you might not get hired to do it again.
It sounds like you’ve really become inspired by this experience. Any future directing plans?
I do want to pursue this – and in television as well. I think it’s safe to say there is more compelling material in television than there is in film statistically. For every good movie that comes out there is probably five thousand really crappy ones that you never see and on TV, on any given night you can really find some incredible stuff coming on. TV is an incredible world right now for creative types and it used to be such a limited experience, but I’m learning that’s a really foolish way to look at things.
With just a week left of filming season five of “Vampire Diaries,” what else do you have in the works?
I just premiered the first film that I produced at South by Southwest [“Before I Disappear”], and we won the audience award and hopefully people will see it as something I’m very, very proud of. And I actually started a little production company with a friend of mine who is a veteran in the TV business and he and I are going to go out there and try and do some compelling things. I don’t want to speak too soon, but that’s what I’ve been focusing on lately.
And now, I have to ask, can you give fans any sneak peaks of the last part of season five?
I read the finale and it ends on a really interesting note. I guess you could say some of the main characters, something happens to them that is. Season five ends on a note of ambiguity in that you really don’t know what is going to happen in season six because people sort of …a very mysterious fate takes two of our main characters.