After spending almost a decade playing one of television’s most memorable bloodsuckers in The Vampire Diaries, Ian Somerhalder will be seen in the new series V Wars on Netflix. Set to premiere worldwide on December 5, the vampire-themed series stars Somerhalder as Luther Swann, a scientist who races against time to find a cure for a deadly virus that is turning humans into blood-thirsty hordes across the globe.
“V Wars is very different from The Vampire Diaries,” the 40-year-old actor told Scroll.in. “There’s nothing supernatural about the vampires in V Wars. It’s more grounded and bloody, and science-based, and here if someone dies, they don’t supernaturally return. Every character here is always on the precipice of death in V Wars.”
Somerhalder has executive produced V Wars and has also directed an episode. In an interview, the actor spoke about his upcoming series, his role as Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries, the television series Lost, in which he played a major character Boone Carlyle, and the Roger Avary film The Rules of Attraction (2002), which featured him in a key supporting role.
What can you tell us about ‘V Wars’?
Because of climate change, all the ice and permafrost is melting, and the scientific community is trying to make us aware. What happens when the ice melts is that whatever was trapped underneath that for hundreds of millennia starts coming out. What does that mean for humans, wildlife or livestock? In V Wars, a disease escapes, which causes me and my best friend to become accidentally infected, and then we start spreading it by mistake.
The series is a different, raw, edgy take on the vampire genre. It follows us on our journey to recreate society once it has been separated into different factions because of this virus.
What was directing an episode of ‘V Wars’ like?
I wanted to direct more, but the first season is hectic because you are setting up the world and finding your characters. I spent so much time learning to settle into the character that I waited till the end of the season to direct.
Also, I love the vampire genre. Having worked on The Vampire Diaries for so long, I believe I have a unique skill set which can bring a lot to a series like V Wars. It’s a global show releasing simultaneously in multiple countries, including India. We can’t wait for people to watch this.
What is your character Luther Swann like?
Damon, my character in The Vampire Diaries, was funny, snarky, sexy, but he was also kind of an asshole though everyone loved him. Luther Swann has superpowers like Damon, but he is a great husband, dad, and scientist. He is a good man who has spent his life studying infectious diseases. One day, circumstances rip him apart from his family and he is forced into a situation where everyone is looking at him to find a cure to save the world from a catastrophic pandemic. He needs to get his best friend back too.
The way Luther is in episode one, by the last episode, he is totally changed. The journey he takes was what was interesting to explore.
Weren’t you apprehensive about doing another vampire-themed series after becoming famous for one already?
Definitely, I had trepidation going into V Wars, but my team and my wife reminded me that this is a very different show and a unique opportunity to, no pun intended, sink my teeth into something as a creative force and steer the narrative. Also, the series is based on a number of books and graphic novels by Jonathan Maberry, a bestselling author. There’s just so much material to mine from that I could not say no to the project.
How important was ‘The Vampire Diaries’ to your life and career?
Well, it made me a household name. It helped me communicate with a vast amount of people. It was one of the biggest and most influential catalysts of my life, like Lost, but way bigger.
What memories do you have from ‘Lost’?
It was so much fun shooting in Hawaii, staying there with that cast and crew. It was a humbling experience working on that series, and also heartbreaking when I had to leave the series early on.
In 2002, you appeared in ‘The Rules of Attraction’.
An amazing learning experience. James van der Beek was the biggest star in television then. Jessica Biel was brand new coming off 7th Heaven. The comedic genius Jay Baruchel rose to the spotlight because of this movie.
Roger Avary was such a rock star. He was directing this six-seven years after winning an Oscar for Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino. Eric Stoltz was a part of this, as was Faye Dunaway, who played my mom. We worked with Lionsgate, a big heavy, and it gave me a completely different view of the movie business.