by Lisa McGarry

Tell us about your character Stefan.
“Stefan is a tormented vampire around 150 years old. He doesn’t look his age though! He was turned into a vampire when he was a young man so he eternally looks the same age as he was back then.

“He is tormented and anguished as he really hates being a vampire and he doesn’t want to be in this state. I don’t know for sure but the assumption I make is that Stefan was turned into a vampire against his will. He hates it.

“He falls in love with Elena and she bears a striking, uncanny resemblance to a girl he was in love with over a century ago. Damon shows up and wreaks havoc and tries to ruin their relationship and steal Elena from him.”

Why is Stefan so fixated with Elena?
“It’s a mystery. In the first episode, Stefan has a photo of Katherine, the girl he was in love with over a century ago and she and Elena look exactly the same.”

Stefan finds himself in a love triangle with Elena and Damon. Have you ever experienced a similar situation?
“No I’ve never been in that situation. I hope this doesn’t sound cocky but if you like a girl and she can’t make a decision then she’s not the one for you! Elena’s love for Stefan is undying and it becomes a triangle in the way Damon manipulates himself into the situation.

“The more Damon can make Stefan look like he’s not so noble and a little deceitful, the more doubt he puts into Elena’s mind and the more he makes himself look like the good guy. At the beginning it’s not a triangle, Elena and I just have this passion and love that is undying.”

Can you relate to Stefan in any way?
“Totally, that’s why I got the part. I felt when I read the script that I connected with Stefan in so many ways. He’s a bit of an introvert in a sense and I have that personality and Ian is an extrovert so he plays Damon perfectly. There is so much inner anxiety Stefan has and I can certainly relate to that on my own superficial human level.”

Why do you think people are so fascinated by vampires?
“Stefan is so desperately in love with Elena he would die for her. He would do anything for her; nurture, care and protect her, even jump in front of a bus for her. But at the end of the day, when he sees her he wants to bite her neck and suck on her blood which would kill her.

“So it’s a constant temptation and that paradox and dilemma is fascinating. I think people are really intrigued by it. It’s also very symbolic and metaphoric and sexual in so many different ways.”

Have there been any strange happenings on set in Atlanta?
“Recently we were filming on a real plantation – it was creepy as there was a lot of dark history. After slavery was abolished, the owner of that plantation was the first guy to be hung because he lynched all his slaves instead of setting them free. So he was hanged and now the place is historically, famously listed as one of the most haunted places in the US.

“We filmed there at night time and it was just really weird and creepy. All of the graves were there, about 150 of them. It was very bizarre. I’m very practical and don’t believe in the paranormal but I do believe your imagination is a powerful thing and everyone on set got very jumpy.”

You and Ian play brothers who are at war with each one another. How do you get along away from the cameras?
“We didn’t know each other at all before we started filming but he’s now become one of my closest friends. He’s an amazing guy, a fantastic actor and a good person and I really feel that I have a great brotherly thing going with him in real life. All day long we tease each other, mess around, pick on each other and get into heated discussions. It’s great.”

Your character is tortured by his past. Does falling in love with Elena change his serious personality?
“Oh yes, totally. We do an episode where Damon and Stefan switch places and he starts manipulating Damon and starts mocking him, imitating him. It’s really fun to explore his character as the series progresses.

“In the beginning he takes himself so seriously. He’s so intense but that’s what is called for. I’ve done a lot of different characters as an actor and try to make my characters dynamic. People aren’t the same, people grow. Being around all these high school kids and interacting with all these human beings is humanising Stefan. So as the show progresses he stops being so epic and intense and everything he says isn’t so calculated. By episode 8 or 9 he’s just talking normally like a spontaneous human being.

“He’s just not used to interacting; he doesn’t know what to say. He’s like ‘I’m 150 years old, I’ve been in the civil war and I’m having a conversation with this girl who’s just watched Twilight!’ What do you say in that instance? It’s like being an alien. Not to mention I want to kill Elena and suck on her blood and I’m obsessed with her. There is just so much to grapple with as an actor.”

How do you psyche yourself up to get into vampire mode?
“I just imagine all the blood rushing to my face, all the temptation and anger. I actually have anger. I’m not saying I’m like a violent person but I have an anger that is inherent that I’ve always had. So when I’m doing scenes with Ian and he’s driving me crazy on screen, it’s kind of easy for me to tap into it and I just let the anger out in that way.”

If you could choose to have one vampire attribute (ageless/being able to move fast/mind manipulation/disappear, what would it be?)
“I certainly wouldn’t want the temptation of feeding on blood and having to rely on a ring to come out in daylight. Reading someone’s mind is incredibly manipulative so I’d go for mind manipulation. I could use that sometimes.

“With the ageless thing you’d be bored as hell, everyone you know would die. I think everyone wants eternal life and everyone is scared of death but come on, if you think about it, it would be pretty miserable. The ambiguity and mystery of life is gone, you know what you’re going to be doing until the sun explodes!

“Death is a part of life and when I first got the part I thought to myself ‘What is Stefan so tormented about?’ But then when I put myself in his mind frame I thought, ‘You know what? It would be pretty miserable to never get old.’”

Why should ITV2 viewers tune in to watch the show?
“It’s a quality show where you fall in love with the characters. They grow on you and you become invested in the story. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It progresses and grows and gets better and better. It’s thrilling, scary, frightening and the plot lines are fantastic.”

Watch The Vampire Diaries tonight on ITV2 at 9PM