Showrunner Spotlight: Julie Plec Talks Up THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Season Four

Looks like the supernatural baddies of Mystic Falls won’t have Elena to push around anymore… or at least, doing so won’t be so easy now that she’s a bloodsucker! With that shocker, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES took things to a whole new level. So what happens next? Let’s ask executive producer Julie Plec!

So has having Elena become a vamp been in the cards all along?
JULIE PLEC: It was three years in the making, in that we knew when we started the series that we’d get there eventually. At one point, we thought we wouldn’t get there until Season 5, and then at one point contemplated getting there by the end of Season 2! We began Season 3 knowing how we were going to end it, so all the choices we made and everything that we did was all trying to very gently and quietly tee that up and put Elena in a situation where that was the biggest move that could happen in her life.

Is moving forward terrifying, given what a game changer this is?
PLEC: It’s exciting, because it’s fresh, you know? It gets us jazzed every day, because we don’t feel like we’re just retreading the same old stuff. It’s daunting, because we think it’s awesome, but if nobody else likes it, there is nothing we can do. We have put the show on this course, and there’s no going back. So if it gets rejected, then we’re going to have to take a beat and think about what we’ve done. That said, I think people will like it, because it’s still Elena. It’s just Elena with a dozen, two dozen more layers to herself.

You’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Nina Dobrev (Elena). How is she handling playing yet another version of the same character?
PLEC: Nina is nothing if not a total champion, and she loves to be challenged as an actress. So far, so good! She’s finding all the nuances in the character that are different than Katherine and different than the human Elena. A lot of actors during Season 4 of a TV series don’t necessarily get to wake up and be somebody new, so I think she’s very excited about that.

So how does Elena being a vampire impact her relationships with the Salvatore brothers?
PLEC: Ultimately, the pitch of the show back in the beginning was a love triangle between two vampire brothers and their love for the same girl, so it’s certainly something we’re not going to just lock up in a briefcase and put away. It’s always going to be there. What’s great about turning Elena into someone “new” is that it takes where she was with Damon and Stefan and puts it in a blender and spins it around. We don’t really know what’s going to come out of that. Because this is a new person, we don’t know how she’ll connect with them and how they’ll react to the changes in her. It adds a lot of fun, new dynamics to this triangle. 

One of the highlights of last season was Joseph Morgan as Klaus. A lot of people were surprised he managed to survive. Is there a danger of falling in love with your villain and, by keeping him around, turning him into less of a threat?
PLEC: With Joseph, certainly our intention was to kill him. And then we changed our minds because he’s so good, and we felt it was too soon to say good-bye to that character. So a lot of what you’re going to be seeing at the beginning of Season 4 is him at his most devilish and darkest. He is such a magnificent, nasty villain! The last thing we want to do is cut his legs out from under him, so we’re going to get to see some of nasty Klaus in action.

With Matt Davis’ Alaric and Ganiel Gillies’ Elijah gone, any plans to bring characters in to fill the void?
PLEC: Well, the good news is that both of them have the ability to return to our show at any time in their contracts. They love us, and we love them so much. With Alaric being dead, of course, we won’t see much of him. But we’ve definitely got some new faces. Some of them are more mysterious, some of them are younger. There’s a new character named April who is a high school student that returns to town after a couple of years away and kind of lands right in the middle of everything. And then there’s a new vampire hunter named Connor who comes to town. He’s no Alaric. He’s a hardcore, humorless, take-no-prisoners, get-it-done character, and he’s a bit of a threat for our heroes. More so than they expected to come across! 

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES fourth season kicks off on Thursday October 11th at 8PM on The CW (9PM on CTV Two in Canada)

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