Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder admits he was hesitant to jump on the vampire bandwagon with The Vampire Diaries (Thursday, 8/7c, the CW). "It was like, 'Oh wow, it's Twilight on television,'" the Lost alum (R.I.P., Boone) says of the CW's new vampires-in-high-school drama based on the young-adult novel series by L.J. Smith. But after he read the pilot script — he specifically cites the show's voiceover — he understood it better. "Kevin Williamson (Vampire's executive producer) reinvented television for teens," he says of the Dawson's Creek creator. "His ability to mix these two genres is what makes it different."

Somerhalder plays Damon Salvatore, a 170-year-old vampire who follows his brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley), to Mystic Falls, their small Virginia hometown. Stefan is there to woo Elena (Nina Dobrev), a young woman who resembles Katherine, a former love; Damon is mostly just there to torture Stefan. "Damon's just lonely, bored and pissed off," the actor says. Why is Damon so angry? The premiere episode indicates that there is bad blood (heh) between the brothers for some unmentioned past transgression; specifically, Damon promises Stefan "an eternity of misery." "For someone to say that to another person, they must have done something really horrible, something to warrant that kind of promise," he says. "Those things are fun to find out," he teases.

Damon doesn't appear until late in the premiere episode, but his presence will loom large over the series. "He's very divisive, exceptionally smart and, unfortunately for Stefan and everyone else, very, very powerful." In the very near future, Somerhalder says, Damon will insinuate himself into a very central role in Mystic Falls.

The busy actor, who is shooting Diaries in Atlanta, will head to Hawaii on Wednesday to shoot the first of three episodes for Lost's final season. "Everyone's coming back," he says, but admits that he too is in the dark about what executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have in store for Boone, his presumed-dead character. He won't even see the script until he arrives in Hawaii. "I truly have no idea," he says. "Those guys are on a whole other level."

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