Matthew Davis arrived on the Atlanta set of The Vampire Diaries just two days after getting the gig, leaving him no time to read the books; so playing Alaric Saltzman, an enigmatic new teacher, wasn't that tough. Right off the bat, Alaric takes a shine to both Jeremy and his aunt, but it will be a while before his true passion is revealed. (Hint: Alaric has something in common with Buffy.) Davis tells TVGuide.com what Alaric is researching in Mystic Falls, when he'll interact with Stefan and Damon and why he hopes never to be called to the special-effects office.
TVGuide.com: Are you a vampire person generally?
Matthew Davis: I'm huge into genres of all sorts, especially the darker elements.
TVGuide.com: What did they tell you about Alaric going in?
Davis: I hopped on that plane not knowing what I was getting myself into. Alaric definitely has a past, and he's there to add a heightened sense of tension to the story line.
TVGuide.com: Is Alaric a good guy or a bad guy?
Davis: It's not so clearly defined. He has a dark side, and I think he's not always going to do the right thing. How that compels him remains to be seen.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about Alaric's secret research.
Davis: It's of the paranormal persuasion. I'm here to play the teacher; the hobbies of my research are pretty much kept secret at this point.
TVGuide.com: Will he be allied with the vampire-hunting grown-ups in any way?
Davis: I don't think so; I think he's more of a loner.
TVGuide.com: Does Alaric know that Stefan and Damon are vampires?
TVGuide.com: How does Alaric's arrival affect Jeremy?
Davis: I think that Alaric sees him as the troubled teen that he is. Because of Alaric's own history and background, he reaches out and gives Jeremy the opportunity to redeem himself. Alaric clears the decks, in an academic sense, and provides a stable, understanding presence in his life. Jeremy begins to respect Alaric.
TVGuide.com: That is, until Alaric hooks up with Jeremy's aunt, Jenna.
Davis: They're definitely setting up that possibility at this point. There's a scene where [Alaric and Jenna are] introduced, and there's chemistry.
TVGuide.com: How long will he be sticking around?
Davis: Right now, I don't really know. The joke on the set is that getting called down to the effects department to be fitted for a body mold is the kiss of death. They have to fit you for prosthetics so you can be staked in the heart or something.
TVGuide.com: Is he supernatural in any way himself?
Davis: Only in his own mind.
The Vampire Diaries is on Thursdays at 9/8c on the CW.