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'The Vampire Diaries' Star Paul Wesley on Ripper Stefan: 'It's Everything I Wanted'

by Jean Bentley, posted Sep 22nd 2011 1:00PM
The Vampire Diaries, Paul WesleyAfter two years of playing Stefan Salvatore, 'The Vampire Diaries'' resident perfect boyfriend and all-around nice guy (who just so happens to be a perpetually 17-year-old vampire), Paul Wesley makes no secret that he loves the murderous turn his character has taken recently.

Now that Stefan has become "the Ripper," nicknamed as such for the savage way the formerly docile vampire tears apart people's bodies as he feeds on them (yes, pretty brutal for a CW teen soap), he couldn't be happier.

"It's everything I wanted," he told AOL TV last week when we visited the Atlanta-area 'Vampire Diaries' set. "The thing is, it's a transition. It's gradual. We open up this season -- and I don't want to give too much away -- but it's kind of like we're at the precipice of something happening. We're at this point where he's still holding on to a bit of that old part of himself."

But Good Stefan doesn't stick around for long. "As the story progresses we see his journey, his struggle, his disease take over, this darkness, and it sort of turns into a Stefan that has no morals," Wesley explained. "That's really, really fun to play. I get to play a whole new character and I get to do something that I have never done, and the audiences get to see me in a way that they never would've expected."

Cast and crew on 'The Vampire Diaries' are notoriously tight-lipped, and rightfully so, since each episode of the series contains more twists than a water slide at Six Flags. But through the cagey responses and deflecting jokes during our interview, Wesley was so certain about one answer that he didn't even let us finish the question. When asked if he preferred playing Good Stefan or Ripper Stefan, we couldn't even complete the thought before he responded.

"Ripper Stefan. Huh? What was the question? Yeah. Look, when it's raining for a really long time, I want sunshine -- actually, I always want sunshine. Let me give you a different analogy. When it's really hot, sometimes I would like some snow. But if I'm in a blizzard, I would like some sun. Right now I'm really enjoying Ripper Stefan."

The Vampire DiariesLast week's episode ended with Stefan and evil vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus torturing a Tennessee man named Ray, played by former '7th Heaven' star David Gallagher. Judging from the previews for episode 2, things don't turn out so well for the werewolf. "Ray suffered an unfortunate end," Wesley said. "He got beat up so much. I felt so bad. We were carrying him around, throwing him around; he was puking, getting bloody. I was like 'Does somebody have a problem with David Gallagher that we're getting a vendetta on this poor guy?'"

Yet Stefan isn't 100 percent into this destruction. "He still feels a little bit like he doesn't want to be there, but he enjoys it so much, you know? It's his true self," Wesley said. "He's fighting his own inner vampire. Because Stefan is dark. We've seen Stefan in this modern day [where] he's so heroic, he's so moral. And it's nice because there are some episodes in Season 3 that will show how he got there. He wasn't always crying for [Elena]."

The first of those flashbacks is scheduled to take place during the third episode of Season 3, 'The End of the Affair.' Wesley promises they'll include "a story that is not dependent or contingent upon anything we've seen before. ... It's like a separate set of characters, almost. A separate town, a separate city, a separate era and a separate set of circumstances and you're just like 'What is this? What am I watching?'"

While Stefan is out on his bloody rampage, his poor mortal girlfriend, Elena, remains back in Mystic Falls, Va. to begin her senior year of high school. Although she now knows that it's actually Stefan on a rampage across the U.S., not Klaus as she previously thought, she won't give up searching for her boyfriend.

The Vampire Diaries, Paul Wesley"She shifts into a gear where she's playing investigator as well, tracking clues and trying to find out where he is and what he's been doing so that she can save him," star Nina Dobrev told AOL TV during a break in filming. "She thinks that he's in trouble, that he needs to be saved, so she's trying to save him."

But are Stefan and Elena still dating through this forced separation? "That's why it's tricky," Dobrev said. "It's yes and no. Yes. And then no. I mean, they are because last they saw each other they were, and they do still love each other, there's no doubt about that. But when you don't see someone for so long -- forget about long distance -- you're not even speaking to them. It's not really a relationship so it's really, really hard for them. But when they finally do reunite, there's a lot of tension in the air because they haven't seen each other in so long."

Wesley, too, hinted at an explosive reunion between the two. The pair's relationship during Stefan's wild period, he said, is "relatively nonexistent for the most part, and then really sad and really painful. And eventually, without giving too much away, I think it turns into the antithesis of everything it was."

That's very interesting, we told him.

He laughed. "Is it?!"

'The Vampire Diaries' airs Thu., 8PM ET on The CW

Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean


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