There are a lot of practical jokes on the set of The Vampire Diaries, but it’s tough to imagine anything topping the one Ian Somerhalder played on Nina Dobrev while shooting tonight’s season 3 premiere (The CW, 8 p.m. ET). Dobrev actually told EW about it first but insisted we ask Somerhalder for the full story.
It happened when they were filming the scene where a naked, sudsy Damon surprises Elena. “Well, you know, you open up the cover page of season 3, episode 1, and it’s, like, the first half a page, Damon’s already naked. So I’d spent almost two days on set completely naked, which is kinda awesome, because as if I wasn’t close enough to our crew members, I feel really close after that,” he laughs. “So our first AD Rudy, at like 8 o’clock in the morning, came up to me and says, ‘Hey listen, I have an idea.’ When Rudy has an idea, it’s usually pretty good. It was that I should go to the prop master, another genius part of our show, and have them make some elephant ears. The first thing we see is Nina’s reaction, so what if I was completely naked and we had elephant ears and double-stick tape, and I put them on each of my thighs, and ultimately, she would be staring at a very small, young elephant. The reaction that we got was f—ing amazing. I hope and pray that that is what we used in the edit because it was such a natural ‘Ohmygod!’ reaction.”
That playful chemistry between rumored real-life couple Somerhalder and Dobrev will serve them well in TVD’s third season when Elena and Damon spend more time together looking for Stefan (Paul Wesley). At the end of season 2, to save Damon from a terminal werewolf bite, Stefan agreed to become the ripper wingman for badass vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan), who succeeded in breaking the curse that kept his werewolf side dormant – so now he’s an even more badass hybrid. “Klaus definitely has a master plan, but I think the interesting surprise will be that his interest in Stefan is actually more personal than it is diabolical,” exec producer Julie Plec says. “I don’t mean that in a homoerotic way. Which would be awesome, too, I’m sure.” While we await the answer to that mystery, here’s a recap of other season 3 teases…
• Klaus and Stefan are on the road, racking up a body count. We know their travels take them to Tennessee, where they find werewolf Ray Sutton, played by 7th Heaven’s David Gallagher, who’s told us that encounter does not end well for him. Stefan is still a reluctant ripper at this point. “At this point, he just wants to keep his brother and his girlfriend away from Klaus. It’s an interesting line that I walk in these scenes where bad things are happening,” Wesley says. “I have to ask myself how much I’m enjoying this and how much I’m reluctant to do. I honestly think it’s a 50/50 thing. Stefan is doing all of these bad things because Klaus is forcing it upon him. But there’s a weird level of enjoyment because he’s a vampire and he has a dark side.” By episode 3, something happens that turns Stefan into a guilt-free ripper, which Wesley loves. “The truth is, I can be a dark guy like any other, but I love humor, and I love goofing off, and I love being silly, and playing a character that’s constantly burdened for years, it can be a little depressing after a while. To play a character who has absolutely no conscience, that literally felt like taking a load off my shoulders,” he says. “I think people underestimate how dangerous and complex Stefan is. Because he doesn’t have the funny little one-liners and sarcasm, people assume he’s less of a threat. But in reality, I think he’s more of a threat because he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve, so to speak … There’s a lot of hidden darkness about Stefan that I think people will be pleased and surprised to see. To make it really simple, I’m kind of sick of always doing the right thing,” he laughs.
• The season premiere features Elena’s 18th birthday party, which Dobrev told us all about here. In short, her friends want her to move on and let Stefan go, but she can’t and won’t.
• Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), who was brought back to life by witch girlfriend Bonnie (Kat Graham) in the season finale, is still seeing the ghosts of his two dead ex-girlfriends and hasn’t figure out why they’re haunting him. As Plec told us, Matt (Zach Roerig) will be one of the first people Jeremy shares his secret with. “One of the loves of Jeremy’s life visiting him from beyond the grave is Matt’s sister Vicki, who he never really had complete closure with. So he is gonna have, with Jeremy, an emotional journey in this supernatural world as he learns that his sister’s out there and contactable and tries to convince Jeremy to help him get the closure that he’s needed.”
• That situation will also obviously complicate Bonnie’s relationship with Jeremy. But Bonnie will have more to worry about as the season progresses. “We’re digging into the history of the Original family as we get deeper into the season and, of course, there was a witch who put that curse on Klaus in the first place, and [she] was a very powerful foe back in the beginning of the Originals’ time. We’re even going as far as to call her the Original Witch, just as a label to put on her. Bonnie will be part of helping us unravel that whole story,” Plec says.
• As producers have already revealed, vampire Caroline (Candice Accola) and werewolf Tyler (Michael Trevino) are on their way to becoming a supernatural Romeo and Juliet. “As Kevin [Williamson] and I say, we just want to see some hot werewolf-vampire sex,” Plec laughs.
• After Aunt Jenna’s death during Klaus’ sacrifice ritual, Alaric (Matt Davis) is trying to define his sense of emotional obligation to Elena and Jeremy. In episode 2, he and Elena will head to the mountains to follow-up on a lead about Stefan.
• While the majority of this season’s flashbacks will be centered around the origins story of Klaus and his family (bring back Daniel Gillies’ Elijah!), the first flashback episode – the season’s third ep, airing Sept. 29 – reveals Stefan’s shocking past in 1920s Chicago after he’s reunited with a vampire ex (Pretty Little Liars’ Claire Holt). “She is someone who was involved with him when he was at his darkest and dirtiest, and now that he’s back on the circuit, she comes around looking to maybe reignite their relationship. She’s a part of his past that he had put away and now has to revisit,” Plec says. (Damon won’t be in that flashback. “The ’20s and ’70s are my favorite periods,” Somerhalder says. “I was kinda bummed, but then I got over it and realized it wouldn’t have really made sense in this part of the story. Maybe in the ’70s, Damon will be chilling at a really awesome Rolling Stones concert.”)
• Look for two other guest stars to shake things up in the first chapter of season 3 (roughly the first nine episodes). At some point, we’ll meet “a very mysterious man who appears to be hunting vampires, most specifically Klaus” played by Supernatural’s Sebastian Roche. We’ll also be introduced to a former Mystic Falls resident (Heroes’ Jack Coleman) who returns to point out all the failings of the current Council’s attempts to keep vampires out-of-town.