Side note: I originally had no intention of attending The Vampire Diaries panel at Paleyfest, but then this little thing called wisdom teeth surgery happened. Since I'm 26 and was supposed to get them out, oh, 10 years ago, the recovery process took roughly three weeks. So how did I spend this time? I watched ALL of The Vampire Diaries, from start to finish, until I was completely caught up. I resisted for so long, believing there was no way it could be as good as I had been told, even though the people telling me this had great taste. I couldn't be happier that I finally gave in because HOLY CRAP do I love it. The show moves incredibly fast, yet no relationship or storyline ever feels rushed, the writing is smart, the actors are all incredibly talented and appealing, which I find is kind of rare on television lately, the mythology hits the most important tropes and diverges in the most interesting possible ways, and almost never is good and evil black and white - everyone exists in a shade of grey and we never know who to trust - or who is going to die. I highly recommend taking this show for a spin, especially if you have a history of being obsessed with vampire shows (ahem, Buffy).
So of course, with my newfound obsession coursing through my veins, I was ecstatic to accept an invite to the evening and revel in finally getting to see these actors interact with each other off screen. But first, we got to see Thursday's brand new episode, 1912, of course. Julie Plec asked us to keep the big reveals in the episode to ourselves, but I will say this - despite a serious lack of Caroline and Klaus, it's a huge episode, that moves the serial killer storyline into place as the next major arc of the season - and not in any way you could possibly see coming.
After the episode, moderator Debra Birnbaum brought out the panelists and after 10 minutes of episode discussion, which will stay private, as it was extremely spoilerific if you haven't seen the epyet, they jumped into the main part of the panel, which was simultaneously streaming online. What started as a normal panel session quickly degenerated (in the best way possible) into an almost free for all, with the actors taking the reigns away from the moderator and simply being as silly as possible, delving into long form jokes about Match.com, the casting couch, and fan fiction. Each actor came off in a very distinct way - Accola as friendly and upbeat, Wesley as intelligent and funny, Somerhalder as goofy and charming, Dobrev as shy, but expressive, Davis as delightfully strange, and Graham as reticent, but sweet & engaging if encouraged. The evening was so chock full of awesome moments, we decided to break them down for you into a list of highlights.
Okay, fine, there was only one. On discussing whether Alaric would make it through the season, Somerhalder threw out, "Good luck, buddy, I've been killed on television before," which drew a hearty audience reaction.
I'm not the only one who thinks Alaric and Elena have chemistry. When a potential love connection between Elijah and Elena was brought up, Plec responded, "I think Elijah has to get in line behind Alaric" and the audience went INSANE. Wesley then brought up the movie The Guardian, Somerhalder noting "They made out." Plec brought up Matt Davis starting an Alaric/Elena campaign over Twitter, commenting that if that happened, it would be totally unacceptable, Dobrev agreeing that it would be inappropriate. But Somerhalder shot back, "and yet - fanTAStic! When the ratings slip…!" Later, when Birnbaum asked if Elena would ever end up with someone who wasn't a Salvator, Somerhalder offered "Hopefully Alaric."
Beginning a shipping campaign for Alaric and Elena isn't the only thing Matt Davis is doing on Twitter. Through his account @ernestoriley, Davis writes Vampire Diaries Fan Fiction. Really. He does. Remember how I said he was a little strange? Just recently he wrote a piece where Alaric gave Damon some advice, to wait on pursuing Elena until she had time to grow up and learn more about the world, like who John Lennon is, cause why would a 165 year old man want to date a naive 18 year old anyway? Truer words, Matt Davis. Truer words.
When Your Friend's Wife Plays Your Love Interest
Somerhalder told us a story about how when Davis found out Alaric was going to get a love interest this season, he was apparently over the moon, wondering who it would be, excited to get a love story like everyone else and for Alaric to "get some". And then of course, his love interest was cast with "his buddy's wife" (Torrey Devito, who plays Meredith, is married to Paul Wesley.) Somerhalder noted how horrified Davis was when he found out, and Wesley joked "HE'S horrified? Forget him!"
Real Life Coupledom
There were also plenty of glimpses into Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev's real life relationship during the almost ninety minute session. Somerhalder made a point to reference his relationship with Dobrev a couple times, first by making a joke about the women in his life torturing him before giving a glance at Dobrev, which can be found in gif-form here, and later by putting his jacket around her shoulders when he got cold. The audience went crazy both times, natch. Later, when Elena and Damon's evolving relationship came up, Plec noted, "Oh, [Damon] wanted to get in her pants from day one" to which Somerhalder replied "Who wouldn't?"
What Is To Come
This season Bonnie will be teaming up with Caroline a lot and will get a love interest that won't die! Or at least won't die yet. The love triangle may not come to THE head, but it will come to A head. Though if Dobrev had her way, Elena would travel abroad ("Gossip Girl did it!") to Italy and meet some non vampire Salvatores. But this season, "Maybe, she has a choice to make." We may also get to see a flashback of Elena's parents while they were still alive, and there was also a hint that not everyone is making it out out season three alive. On a lighter note, when the question was posed whether or not they would show off Kat Graham's voice in the future, perhaps with a drunken karaoke episode, Plec commented that everyone on the show is fairly musical, all the girls sing and back when David Anders was on the show, he played bongos, plus Plec obviously loves Once More With Feeling, and though she doesn't think they could pull off a musical episode, she would "LOVE a drunken karaoke night."
After Somerhalder joked about the show's low ratings, pissing off the loyal audience, Accola encouraged him to make it up to us by taking his shirt off, setting off perhaps the loudest I've ever heard an audience get outside of Hall H during a Twlight panel at Comic-Con. Note: He totally didn't follow through.
Perhaps the coolest part of the entire panel was when an audience member asked about the experience of everyone on stage with getting yeses and nos, how they made it through the rejection, and any advice they can impart to the audience. What followed was a lengthy, fascinating discussion about the industry, including how Somerhalder bombed his network test so bad, he got a no, but Williamson fought for him to get a second chance, which led to him eventually getting the role. Somerhalder knew Damon was his and had to make it happen. Somerhalder, Wesley and Accola all offered great advice, Accola emphasizing positivity, with Wesley agreeing, "The single most important thing is believing in yourself." Accola also offered some extremely enlightened advice for aspiring artists "No doesn't mean never, it means not yet." Somerhalder reiterated the well known adage that luck is when opportunity meets preparation, so you as an artist must always be prepared so that when opportunity arises, you can grab it. He ended with "Every time you lose, you get better."