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Dobrev stars in show with ratings bite

'Vampire Diaries' earns most auds in CW's history

As Elena Gilbert, the resilient, fresh-faced heroine of the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” Nina Dobrev has a lot on her plate: the recent deaths of her parents, a brother descending into drug abuse, a sulking ex and two suitors — one a brooding good guy (Paul Wesley) and the other a charismatic creep (Ian Somerhalder) — who just happen to be vampires.

Dobrev says personally she wouldn’t enjoy all that romantic attention.

“It would stress me out,” she says. “I care about the way people feel. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I think Elena would be the same way. She’s meeting all these new people. I don’t know how she would handle the attention.”

The 20-year-old actress who was born in Bulgaria and grew up in Canada is accustomed to portraying young women forced to grow up fast. In the tween favorite “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” she played Mia, a bright and driven high school student with a young daughter. (She also appears opposite Julianne Moore in Atom Egoyan’s “Chloe,” which premiered at the recent Toronto Film Festival.)

“They are similar in a few ways, but the shows are very different, and are about different issues,” Dobrev says. “Elena has to take care of her brother, deal with that loss and pain of her parents and cope with high school. Add the fact that she’s dating a bloodsucker, and that complicates things even more.”

When Dobrev auditioned for the role, she says she initially played Elena as described in L.J. Smith’s books, which serve as the inspiration for the series, as a more entitled girl.

“Kevin and Julie (series showrunners Williamson and Plec, respectively) said, ‘No, just be yourself. Do what you’d do if in this situation.’ They wanted her to be more likable. That’s what they’re doing on this show. They take everyone’s quirks, what makes them individuals, and use that.”

“Diaries'” debut earned the largest viewership of any CW series preem in the net’s history. Dobrev says when she learned the news, “I screamed. I woke up my roommate and we both just started jumping around in circles.”

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