Paul Wesley is more than familiar with vampires, werewolves and twisted family trees given his eight years as Stefan Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. Luckily for him, all those things also play a big part in the episode of Shadowhunters he recently directed.
TV Guide got the breakdown on Wesley's Freeform directorial debut, including the nasty flu bug he was battling while shooting freezing cold wilderness scenes, as well as the intense arc coming Sebastian's (Will Tudor) way.
What were the major differences between directing Shadowhunters versus The Vampire Diaries, which you were obviously much more familiar with?
Wesley: I think obviously going on to a new set, I'd never done that before. I'd been very comfortable with everyone on [The Vampire Diaries], so this time I had to get to know everyone. That was intimidating at first, but everyone was so sweet that I immediately became very comfortable.
I also had to establish some new looks. We did a couple major location days, and it was very cold. I happened to have gotten the flu in the middle of filming while I was on location, so that was probably the second biggest challenge, but I got through it. I don't think it compromised anything than God.
That lake location looks gorgeous though.
Wesley: It was gorgeous. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I felt like were shooting a feature film. We had some massive wide lenses and beautiful landscape imagery. I felt like we had a major scope for a television series.
Was it easier to just wear the director hat rather than constantly hopping into the scene to play Stefan?
Wesley: Oh man, if I could choose, I would never ever choose to be in a show and direct it at the same time. You know, because it's very difficult to gauge one's own performance.
Was there any one performance in this episode that stood out to you?
Wesley: Quiet frankly, all of them ... I just thought they all were so generous with their time and with their effort and just making me feel comfortable and welcome. One of the actors that had — I would say — the most intense arc in the episode was Will Tudor. He had the most sort of verbose scenes and did a really wonderful job. I knew he was good, I'd heard he's great, but I was impressed with his work.
Wesley: Particularly in genre, like supernatural genre, everything is so big in terms of the elements. You have portals and special effects and CGI and green screen, so when it comes to the actual emotion, I always try to tone it down as much as possible. That was kind of the direction we went in.
I remember in one of your Vampire Diaries episodes there was a running theme of red objects you'd placed throughout the episode to tie certain scenes together. Are there any Paul Wesley trademarks like that in this episode?
Wesley: I don't think I did that in this episode, but I know what you mean. This was more of me trying to learn and adapt the tone and the pace and the style and paying respect to what had already been established. Whereas on The Vampire Diaries, I sort of played around with symbols and little things I hoped the audience would pick up on.
What's next for you, either acting or directing?
Wesley: I just finished doing a mini-series that was really fun... but I don't think they've announced that yet, so I don't want to spill the beans on what it is. I just extended my deal at Warner Brothers, so my company is going to be producing out of Warner. We actually are going to be announcing a couple things we have in the pipeline in terms of some recent developments. So that will be coming out. Also I'm currently in New York, and I may be doing another play.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8/7c on Freeform.