Fans of The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" are rabid - so to speak - about their love for the show and the fact that its current second season has been an even more entertaining and well-crafted roller coaster than last year. One story that has been gaining speed this season is the impending transformation of Tyler (played by Michael Trevino) from human to werewolf, an event that finally came to a head in last night's episode. As the show widens its scope to include the world of werewolves, fans can surely expect more drama, some great storytelling and, more than likely, a lot of blood.
Now that viewers have a little break before new episodes start airing next month, our Jim Halterman spent some time talking with Executive Producer Julie Plec and two of the actors who have seen their characters go through the biggest transformations this season - Trevino and Candice Accola, whose Caroline was turned into a vampire early in the season - to see how they've gotten to this point in the season and, more importantly, what's going to happen next and how much would they actually share.
Jim Halterman: Julie, with the changes for Caroline and Tyler, the addition of the evil Katherine and other new characters, can you talk about making those changes and not shaking things up too much?
Julie Plec: Instinctively, we really believed that turning Caroline into a vampire was a good move and it could have been a good move that people didn't like but as storytellers we just knew that it was a great move for her character. Tyler, we always knew this was his journey. It just took us a season before we could get it started. Michael is wonderful. He's smart, he's committed, he's passionate about this role and the work he has to do to really deliver and it's really been a pleasure to give him storylines this year where he can show off his skills.
JH: Candice and Michael, how much of a hand have you had in helping shape your character's respective journeys this season?
Michael Trevino: Julie and Kevin are so talented and they know me. They know what I'm capable of and what I can bring to Tyler so creatively they know what kind of words to put in Tyler's mouth and as far as talking to them, they know where to push my buttons and push the envelope and it's been great in each episode.
Candice Accola: The scripts that have been coming in... when you're half way through the second season and we're still getting scripts and going 'Oh my Gosh!' You're so shocked at what's happening and even crew members are saying 'Last night's episode was great!' They're watching it even after they've seen it in shooting twelve-hour days. It's exciting to be a part of something like that. When it comes to Caroline, the writers are very specific in those breakdowns within a script. I'm excited with all the opportunities that they've been presenting to Caroline this year.
JH: Michael, you told me at Comic-Con that you were ready for more so how has it felt playing those deeper layers this season?
MT: It's been amazing, Jim. I've been so glad that we're able to show different sides of Tyler. Back in season one, he was really just one note just being mad all the time and getting into these fights and he was - using a word the writers like to use on this show - a real dick. Now we're able to show different sides of what's going on with his family, and what happened when Mason came to town and now we have this new character we'll see named Jules and she comes to town and she has more information about what's going on. It's really nice to see Tyler's vulnerable side. Obviously, our producers had a plan so now to show his soft side and making close relationships with other characters in Mystic Falls, it's been a blast. And hopefully it will just get better as we get ready for the rest of season two.
JH: Speaking of getting closer, there are several impending couples. Bonnie and Jeremy are getting closer. Tyler and Caroline are getting closer. What are we going to see moving forward?
JP: Nothing but obstacles! Obstacles and then working around the obstacles. If it were easy, it wouldn't be a relationship drama. Happiness is difficult to tell for numerous episodes.
CA: It's always a possibility for characters to find a new interest in each other that can turn into a romantic one. What's been so wonderful about Caroline's character development throughout the season is that during the first season any time she talked to a member of the opposite sex it would be 'You're cute and I want attention.' With the second season the stakes are higher and her perspective on life is much different so she can just be friends with someone of the opposite sex. It's not like she started hanging out with Tyler because she thought it was cute. The friendship is the most important thing on her radar now. Where that friendship goes? It could go anywhere so stay tuned for that one.
MT: I can tell you that they're there for each other. What they have in common is the supernatural element within their characters. Obviously, that causes a little triangle with our buddy Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig) so you'll see that dynamic between the three of them. But it's nice and what's going to happen with Caroline and Tyler... one's a vampire, one's a werewolf. I don't know how that works in terms of a relationship, do you? It will be interesting.
JH: How much of the show's success do you attribute to social media?
JP: Someone should do a study on that so I can speak with more authority. I think emotionally I attribute a lot of the success to that because that's where we get our feedback and that's where the community has the opportunity to communicate with each other and good or bad they have a dialogue that keeps people talking about the show. Social media is the new water cooler and on a grand, grand scale everybody aspires to have the water cooler show so when you have the Twitter-cooler show, you feel pretty good about yourself.
CA: It's so wonderful that everyone has been so excited about the show and it has a huge following that is very apparent when you're online. I know the boys get the attention more and more because they look pretty spot-on to how they look on screen but everyone has been very respectful. Everyone has been very complimentary of the show and what's funny is I still get a kick out of the fact that most of the people that I'm approached by are adults. My favorite are the men saying 'My wife loves your show!' and I say 'Then how do you recognize me? You must watch it, too!'
JH: Let's talk about some of the other characters. Elena (Nina Dobrev) is definitely not the damsel in distress anymore. Was that a conscious effort that you wanted to see this year?
JP: Absolutely. We always want our female characters to have a point of view and be strong but by definition putting the ingenue in jeopardy is a part of the show so how you sort of make her really strong-willed and fierce and stand up for herself... we saw that a lot last season but this season she's not necessarily letting other people make decisions for her anymore and it's part of her growth and the way she is taking back her life, which has spun out of control. It's nice to see Elena take a stand.
JH: Last season, Damon really seemed to be more bad than good and now it seems to be the other way around with him being more good than bad. Can you talk about that shift?
JP: At the core of Damon's character is a man who is struggling with both the dark and light inside of him. He put on a good show last year and really embraced all the darkness and evil that exists within him. This year we're exploring the light part of him, the innocent boy who loved so desperately when he was human. We're letting that persona find its way for awhile. The battle between those two [sides] is really the issue for that character.
JH: You said you had to wait to tell the werewolf story with Tyler until this season. Are there other things that you and the writers are just dying to tell but can't squeeze it in at this point in the series?
JP: There are many things that we're dying to do that we're not doing yet. As far as when they're coming, I don't know. There's so much to play out with relationships. At one point, I look forward to being able to tell the story of someone who makes the choice not to feed on a human after they've been turned and let themselves die instead of becoming a vampire. That can be a heartbreaking story to tell one of these days but no plans just yet to do any of those things.
"The Vampire Diaries" airs Thursdays at 8:00/7:00c plus look for back-to-back repeats every night next week (December 13-17) to catch up on season two!