After eight seasons, more than 170 episodes and lots of blood-sucking goodness, “The Vampire Diaries” is closing the book’s final chapter.
Ahead of the March 10 series finale, the cast members are reminiscing on the CW show’s legacy and their favorite memories. Stars Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Zach Roerig and Michael Malarkey shared stories and laughs with Variety and other press members, last week at a private event in West Hollywood. “I got a bit teary-eyed and I’m kind of a cold-hearted bastard,” Wesley laughed when he recalled reading the final script.
” I think it really cinches it up beautifully. It holds water. It has legs,” Somerhalder teases of the grand finale.
Here, the members share memories, plus tease the finale, in a roundtable Q&A…
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO READING THE FINAL SCRIPT?
Wesley: I read the script on the plane. It was a culmination of so many emotions. You’re like, “Oh. This is the last script I’m ever going to read for this show.” … I took a selfie with red eyes and I sent it to [creators] Julie [Plec] and Kevin [Williamson] and said “good work guys.”
Somerhalder: As I was going down it, I was sort of ticking boxes. You’re looking at how all of this was going to sum up into one 44-minute episode of television. From a story standpoint, I thought, “Wow! They actually summed it all up into one 44-minute piece.” I think people will be pretty satisfied. It’s hard. You’re never going to be able to satisfy everyone, but I think there’s a very beautiful orchestration to how this was laid out.
Malarkey: A long-running show interweaves itself into every watcher’s life in a certain way. It means so much to them for different reasons and hence why it could never fully satisfy everybody because your own perception of your reality of that show — it’s become greater than the show itself. I think we do it justice.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE FILMING YOUR FINAL SCENE?
Somerhalder: Up until the second they yell cut, it’s the same sh-t. You’re still on a schedule. Everyone is still doing everything as quickly as possible.
Roerig: I had an emotional scene to end on so I was trying to keep myself well-calibrated and make sure my emotion was based in the scene because it was my last scene on the show. At the end, Julie knew. She could see my lip quivering and the snot bubbling. She was like, “Zach, this is a free one. Just let it rip.” I just completely let it out.
Wesley: I finished my scene and I had my eyes closed and someone sprayed funfetti in my face. Literally, direct shot, pfff, in my face. I was doing this emotional scene. I was crying or whatever, and all the sudden I have funfetti in my eyes and I was just like, what? It was really funny.
HOW WILL FANS FEEL ABOUT THE FINAL EPISODE?
Wesley: I think the finale will be very satisfying.
Somerhalder: I think it really cinches it up beautifully. It holds water. It has legs.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO FILM THE JUNE WEDDING — SOMETHING THAT WAS BROUGHT UP IN THE PILOT?
Wesley: It’s funny because I had heard about this June wedding at Comic-Con. I had no idea what everyone was talking about. I still kind of don’t really know what it’s about! But apparently there’s some June wedding the fans talk about, so when they first told me we were gonna have a June wedding, I was like, “Oh cool!” We’re paying a homage to the fans. It’s kind of amazing. Stephan and Elena (Nina Dobrev) were the pair for so many years and I never in a million years thought Caroline (Candice King) and Stephan would end up being that kind of — I don’t want to say true love, because I think true love can exist in many forms — but I never knew that they would be equally as powerful as a couple. It was pretty surprising to me.
WHEN YOU FIRST DID THE PROPOSAL AT THE BEGINNING OF SEASON 8, DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD ACTUALLY MAKE IT?
Wesley: I did. I know how this show works in the sense that if we hadn’t gotten married, it would have been a real twist. Once you dangle that carrot, I thought, we’re gonna have to get married here. Julie’s way too nice of a person. She wouldn’t do that. There needed to be a payoff.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE HAVING CERTAIN ACTORS RETURN FOR THE FINALE?
Roerig: I thought it was very fitting. We started the pilot with them and obviously we picked this guy [Malarkey] up along the way. It was nice having Kayla [Ewell] come back to say goodbye as a friend and also to work with her again.
Wesley: On that same note, I think it would have been very strange to not have Nina [Dobrev] come back for the finale. It’s like, the crux of the whole story is two brothers fighting over a girl. Obviously, there’s a bazillion other storylines, but I felt like it would have been a real shame for the fans and for the show to not sort of wrap that up to a degree.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SAY GOODBYE TO JULIE PLEC AND EVERYONE ON SET?
Malarkey: I didn’t realize how affected I’d be. I’m all business when I get to work. I care deeply about what I do. I wanted to treat it like any other day, just do my sh-t, finish and give Julie a hug. In the last scene I’m doing, I’m thinking there’s another take, so I’m kind of pacing around, doing my thing, and then I hear this voice. It’s Julie coming in the doorway saying, “Michael. It’s time.” And I was just…sh-t, I’m not ready for this. But she gave a great eulogy for everybody about our place in the show. I remember being pretty deeply moved by that. Then they wanted a speech and, obviously, I’m sputtering through it.
Wesley: I don’t think any of us prepared. I certainly didn’t. But we were all expected to.
Roerig: She gave us all a very nice speech. It was very tender and fitting to end with her and that speech, cause not only was I there with Julie and people who have been there since the inception, but our camera operator, our good friend, who’s been there for a lot of parts. I liked to look around and see him there.
IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU COULD TELL THE FANS TO HELP THEM GET THROUGH THE SHOW ENDING, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM?
Somerhalder: We start shooting season 9 next week!
Wesley: Look, all good things must come to an end and let’s end it on a good, positive note and not get canceled, you know what I mean? We’re going out with some pride and dignity to a degree.
IF SOMEONE CAME ALONG AND PITCHED A REBOOT, WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DO IT?
Wesley: I think I’m closing the chapter.
Somerhalder: In 10 years, I’m going to be living on a ranch in Wyoming and you’ll never hear from me again. I think it’s good to close this chapter and really let it be. There’s something beautiful about closure. People and things come into our lives and out of our lives and there’s so much beauty in what’s here and how it affects us.
DID YOU TAKE ANYTHING FROM SET?
Wesley: I took my ring. The one I’ve worn for eight years.
Somerhalder: I took my ring.
Malarkey: I took a lot of clothes.
Roerig: I stole Matt’s boots for sure. They show over eight years how much I stub my toes.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES FROM THE ENTIRE SHOW?
Wesley: I don’t really have a favorite memory, but as an actor, you audition for something, get a job and it all comes and goes. With this, I never knew walking into that room it was going to be eight years of my life and that I’d start the job as a certain kind of person and I’d leave as a completely different person. It’s shaped my entire existence and a lot of my formative years in my twenties. This show is always going to be ingrained in my personality. I didn’t sign up for that when I walked into the audition, but I’m very grateful for it. It’s amazing. I’m scarred for life.
Roerig: Favorite memory would be the pilot. A lot us were very young, early in our careers and there was a certain excitement, an electric buzz in Vancouver that we all felt. Especially around the casting of Stephan — most of us were there in Vancouver waiting to see who they were gonna cast.
Wesley: Yeah, I was the last guy cast!
Roerig: Yeah, I remember Kayla Ewell and Nina floating around with pictures on their phones of who they might pick. It was the beginning of the very formative years of all of our lives. But Vancouver definitely sticks out in my mind.
Malarkey: It was also the beginning for me. That first episode that I shot with Ian — it was all in the cell. It felt like we were shooting this little short film. All my scenes we were shooting together and we just had this instant connection and understanding of each other. When you come onto a show late in the game, it’s rare that you have that synergy with one of the main actors on the show and I found that subsequently with these guys and the rest of the cast and was embraced into this world. I feel like I’ve been there for forever. It all started with that episode, so that’s probably my most pivotal moment and favorite memory.
Somerhalder: You have to realize it’s 171 episodes, multiply that by 8 to 10 days per episode. You’re looking at just hundreds and hundreds of days so the newness of it in the beginning was really special. I think the bonding of this cast and crew — that’s who you miss most of all when you leave these things. It’s not performing everyday. You miss the cast and you miss the crew. You miss all the people who make it work because you effectively become a family. Paul and I have been joking for years while we’re literally killing each other or staking people, in the middle of it, there’s all the sudden a fart joke and we’re just hysterically laughing while everyone’s covered in blood. There’s just these really funny juxtapositions and there’s too many to count. An entire era of our lives. I’m 38. Eight years of that. It’s a substantial part of someone’s life.