Paul Wesley has the prerequisite young Hollywood muscles and tats. But that image of cool is softened by a self-deprecating sense of humor punctuated by frequent chuckling. And when the 28-year-old New Jersey native talks about his girlfriend — Pretty Little Liars' Torrey DeVitto — he sweetly says, "I'm lucky to be with her." That balance of bad boy and gentle romantic has kept fans swooning for Wesley's heroic bloodsucker Stefan Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. "Paul is very funny, charming, winning and a very subtle actor," says exec producer Kevin Williamson. "He's just brilliant." On April 7, The CW hit returns with Stefan trying desperately to keep his human love Elena (Nina Dobrev) safe from Klaus, the übervamp who's hell-bent on sacrificing her. We asked Wesley to give us some scoop about Stefan — and the actor who plays him.
TV Guide Magazine: A lot of this season has been about the arrival of Klaus. When does the baddest vampire of them all finally show up?
Wesley: He arrives in the April 21 episode. It's interesting. I pictured Klaus as this older, devilish guy. But they cast Joseph Morgan, who is young, good-looking and has a calm presence.
TV Guide Magazine: How will Stefan protect Elena?
Wesley: Stefan may not be as old or as powerful as Klaus, but he's proving himself to be ruthless. He's willing to do anything it takes to save her. I love the way they're making Stefan not such a softie.
TV Guide Magazine: So he's no longer "drab," as you once called him?
Wesley: I don't want him to stray from his morals, but sometimes Stefan gets too caught up in the good-guy routine. I like it when he proves himself to be a worthy opponent.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you ask the producers to toughen Stefan up?
Wesley: I hinted at it. The story line has been progressing there. You can only do one thing for so long.
TV Guide Magazine: We hear Katherine may turn the Stefan/Elena/Damon love triangle into a square.
Wesley: I don't think it's a full-on square because you never really can trust Katherine's intentions. I'm not quite sure that Katherine loves Damon or Stefan. [Laughs] She kind of just loves herself. She likes to make you think that she's in love with Stefan, but then she drops a hint that she's in love with Damon. And vice versa. But with Elena and Stefan there's an obvious love. Even with Elena and Damon, there's some genuine emotion there.
TV Guide Magazine: Which character is more fun to make out with: wicked Katherine or kindly Elena?
Wesley: When Stefan and Elena first made love, it was beautiful. So innocent, so Romeo and Juliet. Then there's that naughty, crazed thing that Stefan and Katherine had, so I don't know!
TV Guide Magazine: You have three sisters. Does Damon (Ian Somerhalder) make you feel lucky you don't have to deal with a brother?
Wesley: I would have loved to have a Damon-type brother! I always wanted a brother to kick everybody's ass for me when I was picked on in school.
TV Guide Magazine: Like a typical big brother, Ian teases you off camera. Do you have a secret weapon against him?
Wesley: I have many Ian repellents. I have, like, an entire arsenal. But if I tell you, in the next interview he'll react and start with his anti-Paul weapons. In typical Stefan fashion, I choose the pacifist route.
TV Guide Magazine: Pacifist? Weren't you thrown out of high school for fighting?
Wesley: I'll admit that. Then my second school kicked me out because I was skipping class. But that's because I was on Guiding Light. I got an apartment in New York City, [but] my parents told me I had to graduate from high school. So I went to this small prep school. Then I went to college for five months and realized that it just wasn't for me. I'd rather go play a vampire and bite people's necks.
TV Guide Magazine: Has anyone ever asked you to bite their neck?
Wesley: [Laughs] This girl asked me to bite her. I'd always said no before, but this time I decided to go for it. I bit her arm and I drooled on her! It was a disaster. I grossed her, and myself, out. I won't be doing that again!
The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.