'Vampire Diaries' scoop: Ian Somerhalder talks this week's episode, Damon's humanity, and his own plan to save the planet

vampire-diaries-ianImage Credit: Annette Brown/The CWToday, Ian Somerhalder turns 32, and he’s celebrating by doing some press for his new project, the habitat and biodiversity focused Ian Somerhalder Foundation, and The Vampire Diaries‘ Dec. 9 midseason finale before hitting the show’s set. Because we are Entertainment Weekly, we’ll start you off with the Vampire Diaries scoop. Then, we’ll help him save the world. So, what can he tease about Damon’s mindset after Thursday’s episode? “Basically, Damon, as much as he fights it, is starting to feel. And that angers him. It scares him. It’s just different for him, and he doesn’t quite know how to deal with it,” he says. “I was talking to my father, and his dog, our family dog, is a rural country dog. She’s never been on a leash, this animal. We’re taking her this winter to our house in the mountains where we’re gonna spend Christmas. We’re gonna bring her. We want our dog with us. My dad is gonna drive across country, and he said [Laughs] he tried to teach her how to walk on a leash, and she flipped out. The dog’s 10 years old. It’s so difficult teaching an old dog new tricks, and Damon is unbelievably uncomfortable on that metaphorical leash of humanity. It’s been so long since he felt like this that it’s freaking him out. Another element shows up to Mystic Falls that again compromises and endangers what he started to love, and so the stakes get raised again. At the end of this episode, it’s pretty heavy for him.”

What can he tell us about the Salvatore Brothers’ relationship in this episode? “Stefan is locked in that cave. In all actuality, it’s kind of what Damon’s been dreaming about. But truthfully, Damon wants to get his brother out of there. He’s gonna try really hard, once he works out what he needs to work out. As much as he wants to kill his brother sometimes, he loves him. Damon can’t imagine being stuck in that cave with Katherine. That would just suck. There’s such a commonality of pain between these two guys. They’re in love with the same two women. Two of them — it’s absurd. [Laughs] And the protagonists that have come to town, they mean business. They’re gonna wreak some havoc, and they’re gonna cause some problems for us, that’s for sure.”

The show will return with new episodes in late January. It sounds like it’ll be an interesting time for Damon, having the Originals (and werewolves) come into the picture just when he’s finding his humanity. “You’re exactly right. It’s like, Come on. Really? Now I’ve got to be Mr. Brutal Vampire and protect everybody, and I’m gonna have to hurt people. But now I’m feeling the most vulnerable and human I’ve ever felt. He’s probably just thinking This is total bulls—.”

While Damon tries to save Mystic Falls, Somerhalder himself is thinking globally with the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. (How’d you like that segue?) “In the wake of the BP spill,” says the Louisiana native, “there needs to be more organization to team up with the smartest guys in the room and fix and solve problems. Half the species on earth are facing extinction. What this foundation is gonna do is partner with other organizations around the world — who are the smartest guys in the room — and it’s going to focus on flora and fauna, the two-legged creatures to the 50-legged creatures. Our habitat is being destroyed. We are dealing with gaps in education. The educational component is to basically empower youth to know the future lies in their hands.” Somerhalder, who’s set to speak at Deepak Chopra’s second annual Sages and Scientists conference in February, expects the foundation to partner on lectures that can be televised into classrooms via closed-circuit television, as well as on educational trips and contests. “Maybe it’s going to Sony and saying, ‘Hey, can we have 100 cameras,’ and we send them to two schools per state. We set in motion contests to shoot environmental communal documentaries, and start to get not only corporate America involved but small-town schools. Get kids to understand that whether they’re in super urban or super rural areas, it’s all the same. We will be doing really cool contests like that and allowing kids to travel all over the world.”

“One thing that’s a blessing and a curse to people like us who grow up in the United States of America,” he continues, “is we have the most phenomenal boundaries: Canada on one side, Mexico on one side, and these two vast oceans. What that prevents kids from America from doing is traveling abroad very easily by virtue of the fact that it’s costly and that it’s a long way to go. It’s limiting in a big way. If you speak to a lot of youth in America, they generally haven’t been out of the country because it’s so huge, and they don’t really realize what’s out there and how amazing the world is and how delicate it is. I want to allow educational programs to get kids out, to get them to see what else is out there and be aware how it’s all working. Deepak talks about how the world is actually a living breathing organism. The rivers are our veins, and the trees are our lungs. We all live in one place. If you view it as a completely separate entity from yourself, you can destroy it. If you view it as a part of us, you start to realize if I hurt the environment I’m in, I’m essentially hurting myself, I’m hurting my family, I’m hurting the family dog, I’m hurting my future children. It’s a conscience shift.” If you’re the kind of person who prefers to speak in specifics, he offers this: “There’s a domestic animal issue that we have globally that we simply cannot adopt our way out of anymore,” he says. “So I’m going to work with both non-profits and for-profits, and governmental bodies, and finish funding research to get species-specific sterilization drugs for domestic animals so we can stop this overpopulation of stray animals. Maybe in a decade, we won’t have stray animals. Not even maybe. My kids will grow up never knowing what stray animals are. We can get these orally administered pills that don’t hurt the animals and we can mobilize people, whether it’s in Rio de Janeiro or Bucharest or Ohio. We can really start to whittle away the need for shelters and the need for killing 8 million innocent cats and dogs a year.” For more information or to donate (it is his birthday), visit ISFoundation.com.

More on The Vampire Diaries:
Exclusive: Nina Dobrev talks this week’s steamy sex scene (and the resulting bruises)
Exec producer Julie Plec on Tyler’s transformation and the show’s next chapter
Could Jules give Matt a story line? What’s Elijah’s offer?
And just because: TV’s 21 sexiest scenes, as you picked ‘em

Comments (37 total) Add your comment
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  • Hank Dahlworth

    Wow, An article on EW that isn’t about Glee or dissing on Sarah Palin! Nice! I was beginning to wonder if EW thought anything else was relevant in the world. And kudos to Ian for doing something to make a difference in the real world.

    • ann


  • Abby

    First off happy birthday Ian:)I love you lol. Second omg great interview, so exciting about Damon humanity and we know who brings it out most>Elena:)
    I really dread this wolvebite thing and Damon possibly dying.ugh it’s not looking good for him:(.

    • Abby

      Oops forget, yeah well dine Ian on your foundation work too. Good luck with that:)

    • Abby

      Oops forget, yeah well done Ian on your foundation work too. Good luck with that:)

    • Hadassahia

      Im pretty sure he’s not going to die… he practically makes the show… he’ll probably just be seriously injured :)

  • Twihards Suck!

    Love the Vampire Diaries. Nice to have a good show about vamps to watch. My wife used extortion to get me to watch the latest Twilight movie and it was TERRIBLE! I better be getting my black authentic Nash jersey for Christmas after sitting through that torture! Unlike The Vampire Diaries, Twilight has defecated all over everything great about vampire lore.

  • erin

    Ah, how could be any more in love with IS? A Sexy Beast who actually gives a crap about something important! Good for you and happy birthday!

    • erin

      insert an “I” and it might make a bit more sense lol

    • Mocha

      I feel the same way. Why does he have to be so caring and informed about issues he cares about, AND be so insanely hot? More specifically, why aren’t there more guys like him in the world?

      • wino

        amen, Mocha. maybe we can clone him?

  • Lindsey

    It’s great to hear someone like Ian advocating for more better understanding around the world, getting kids to think global and wanting to partner with schools. Just awesome.

  • Alice

    A day younger than me. Maybe we are meant to be together. Heh, heh. After reading this, he may displace Ryan Reynolds as the imaginary boyfriend that I am really too old to have.

  • Emeri

    Happy Birthday to a great an amazing actor and a great guy! Can’t wait for tomorrow night! Aww yeahh.

  • Emeri

    Happy Birthday to a great an amazing actor and a great guy! Can’t wait for tomorrow night!

  • Tamara

    Intelligent, charming, brave and man of great and good heart. Wishing him all the best. Happy birthday, Mr. Somerhalder.

  • Anissa

    Happy birthday Ian!!!! Can’t wait for tomorrow night’s episode, even though I’ll have to wait a while for January to come around…

    I’m in high school, and it’s great to see how some TV stars are actually trying to help the world.

  • Merry Bear

    That man is beautiful to the bone.

  • mulan

    I will watch anything Ian is in, loveeee the thing he does with his eyes on VD, overall the show is great

  • JennaB

    I love you, Ian. You’re talented and compassionate! Thank you for always doing so much for animals!

  • Sandra

    The Vampire Diaries was a great show when Damon was a killer and didn’t care about anyone and slepted with all the women. Now he’s just boring. Time to find a new show.

    • Samantha

      I still love the The Vampire Diaries but I completely agree with you about Damon. They’re changing him (to be all good when they already have one of those, Stefan) just so he can be with Elena, which is dumb and boring.

    • Jim

      Slepted? Really?

  • Miss Talk

    I’m still waiting to see The Vampire Diaries trinity on your cover, EW.

    • chattypatra

      I second that! Make it happen soon, please. Thank you, editors!

    • Sarah El


    • S.


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