Will Ian Somerhalder ever win an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries? Whose life would this character choose to save, if only given one option: Elena's or Stefan's? How has Damon changed since we first met him?
In an exclusive interview with TV Fanatic, the actor who makes women swoon and men stand up to cheer answered these questions and many more. He even touched on efforts to clean up the oil spill in his native Louisiana. Warning to fans: you're about to like Somerhalder even more than you did before...
We didn't think it would be possible to surpass season one, but season two is proving us wrong.
I hope so. It’s actually going to get better. We are committed and we understand that we have to make this a better season of television than last year. Katherine’s back, and there are a couple of other unknown forces that are lurking about. I think this season's dynamic is that it’s not quite as much fun for Damon to be honest with you [laughs]. I don’t get to wreak havoc and destroy shit, but it’s a little more layered and dynamic. I think the cool thing is that Stefan and Damon are going to have to bind together and set their differences aside and fight for what they love, which is the town and Elena.
I think that what’s sort of thrown Damon for a loop is what he said at the end of the finale, “I came to this town wanting to destroy it and everything in it, and now I find myself wanted to protect it." How the hell does that happen? I think that it happens because when you forge relationships with people you raise stakes, you have something to lose. For someone who’s never had anything to lose, it’s throwing him a bit. It’s fun to play, but I think there are a lot of things that are about to pop up that are going to make for some action.
Damon has grown from being such a sweet person, as we see in flashbacks, to someone so full of anger.
I think what’s sad about Damon is that he's such a tortured character. In life, we use humor as a band aid; it’s a medicine for pain, which is why comedians are the most miserable people you’ve ever met. These two brothers have dealt with a pretty substantial amount of pain in their lives, like anybody, except it’s drawn out over a century and a half. I think now, Damon feels, if anything, just stupid. You know when you do something you know is your fault and you’ve suffered from it? You just want to slap yourself.
There are petitions online that want you to be nominated for an Emmy.
Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. Damon being [Entertainment Weekly's] Sexiest Beast and me being nominated for an Emmy are two very different things. If I had that mind compulsion thing that Damon had I could probably go to the Academy and just brainwash them all.
If Stefan and Elena’s relationship is so great, why do you think there are so many Delena fans out there?
I don’t know. I think the only difference is, Stefan’s a much more sound individual. I just think the only reason is, Stefan’s got so much to deal with... with his brother, protecting his girlfriend, all of this shit, that Damon just has a lot more fun, and I think Stefan is just so concerned with protecting or making everything right, that Elena ends up having more fun with Damon.
We've learned a lot about Damon via flashbacks. Is there any background on the character you'd still like to know?
What his favorite color was. No, just kidding. Yeah, there are a couple of things. I would like to know what Damon was doing to fill those 150 years. I can almost guarantee that he slept with Marilyn Monroe, and probably hung out with Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart and all those guys. Did he go to Rolling Stonea concerts? How cool would it be to see a scene of old stock footage of Damon being in the exact same clothing, but sort of standing backstage or sitting in the front of a Rolling Stones concert in 1968. How cool would that be? Maybe by season three when we have the money [laughs].
What were those 150 years filled with? I wouldn’t say that Damon was the most philanthropic human being in the world, but who knows. Was he? I don’t know. I’d love to know what he did, the relationships that he had. It’s interesting.
What's your favorite Damon one-liner of all-time?
There are a lot of them. But one of them that I really, really loved is the Count Deepak line. One of the coolest, most surreal experiences I’ve ever had was when I was doing that Larry King telethon for the Golf Oil spill and Deepak Chopra came up to me. He said “I really like that line in your television show, and my niece is going to kill me if I don’t get a picture with you." This is Deepak Chopra saying this to me on the stage of Larry King Live. I thought, if nothing else comes from this television show, no career, no nothing, that would be worth it.
If Damon had so save either Elena or Stefan, who would it be?
Wow. It couldn’t be save Stefan and Elena and lose his own life? Because I think at the end of the day at this point, truly, because he’s an old man, and he’s fucked up enough, I think that if Damon had to choose between Elena living and him going bye-bye, I think in a heartbeat he would take the latter. He really would.
Here’s the thing: Stefan’s not going to sleep with him. So I definitely have to say that he would save Elena’s life. But Stefan can cook. It’s a total toss up. At the end of the day, the sex always wins over. It is a little odd to cross swords with your brother, but hey.
Where are things standing with Gulf oil spill, and how things are moving along with your efforts?
It’s coming. It’s a disaster, and everyone’s been so helpful. I think BP’s going to make it right. I know that the nurseries that we thought had been destroyed haven’t been destroyed, the marshes weren’t destroyed, which is great. I think overall, with a lot of help from man, I think Mother Nature is going to bounce back. There’s a lot of oil that we don’t know where it is and there’s going to be a lot of side effects. It’s too early to know. What we’re seeing right now, we have no idea what’s lurking under the surface or what’s going to happen next year.
How can fans get involved?
I am putting together a foundation that’s going to work in conjunction with a bunch of other foundations that will be very, very focused on going into that region, and helping. A great deal. The National Wildlife Federation, the RDC, are involved in what’s going on. Right now, there needs to be a solid go-to place in order to help, and that’s what I’m literally working on as we speak. I’m not even kidding. Keep up and support these people, there’s a lot that needs to happen.