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The Vampire Diaries Ian Somerhalder Calls Directorial Debut “My Favorite Experience Ever”

By on February 21, 2015

Ian Somerhalder

Fans of The CW’s The Vampire Diaries got a special treat today when series star Ian Somerhalder made an appearance at Wizard World’s Cleveland Comic Con event.

The packed house eagerly lent their attention to the actor as he answered questions about his work on TVD, as well as his own passions, including his non-profit organization, The Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF).

As Somerhalder offered a solid 45 minutes of profound advice and good laughs, ScreenSpy was there to get the scoop on his favorite on-set prank that never happened, how he feels about getting to work on The Vampire Diaries and his love for 90s music.

We also got him to dish about his upcoming directorial debut, slated to air this March.

Entering to a buzzing crowd, the actor addressed fans both warmly and humorously, starting off the panel with assurances that, for the few gentleman in the room, being there was all worth it.

“I know this is like going with your girl shopping, but bear with it, she will be nice to you,” Somerhadler said.

He went on to joke, “Every guy in this room – it’s like shopping. Shopping for the ladies.”

After inciting a roar of giggles and cheers, Somerhalder changed the tone and revealed his softer side, discussing animal rights and his love for the work ISF carries out. With the fame that has accompanied his role on The Vampire Diaries, it could have been easy to lose sight of what matters. Somerhalder, however, remains grounded.

When talking about his personal philosophy on life is, the TVD star offered some simple, but thoughtful advice.

“[There are] three things I can promise you will make your life not even really fulfilled, but make your relationships great, make your health great – three things I think this world is missing,” Somerhalder said. “One of them is gratitude, the other is reverence and the other one is compassion.”

Attendees saw that the actor clearly practices what he preaches — especially the gratitude aspect of his life philosophy —  when Somerhalder shared a few thoughts about his past and present opportunities, including his work on hit genre show The Vampire Diaries.

“It’s been such an amazing ride. I remember waking up every morning in Hawaii and thinking ‘Geez-Louise,’ I get to go to work with these amazing people. Or when I wake up to work on The Vampire Diaries and I have to say some not so great lines about some ghosts or some witches.”

Ian Somerhalder. Image © Abbey White/ScreenSpy 2015

Ian Somerhalder. Image © Abbey White/ScreenSpy 2015

While not everyone exhibits the same general empathetic nature that Somerhalder possesses, he believes it’s something that compassion isn’t taught. Rather, it’s in you by nature and most importantly is given the opportunity to grow and become instilled in you as life happens.

Somerhalder credits his foundation for a lot of his own personal growth when it comes to those three things.

“I think those things are instilled in you,” Somerhalder said. “They were instilled in me from when I was a child. But when it really solidified was when we started ISF. There’s still so much change that needs to be had, or to be created and perpetuated and sustained. ISF really helped us realize that gratitude, reverence and compassion were really three missing from our lives – life, in the world.”

While he’s definitely got a soft spot, he can also be a little mischievous, something Somerhalder illustrated while sharing the details of a prank he almost pulled on his TVD co-star Paul Wesley.

On the first day of shooting season one of The Vampire Diaries, Somerhalder planned to play a potty joke on trailer neighbor, Wesley, by covering the opening of his co-star’s toilet with plastic wrap in hopes that… well, you get it.

Somerhalder eventually backed out as Wesley entered the trailer.

“I regret this, I regret this every day,” Somerhalder said.

In spite of never carrying out the prank, the actor was still proud of his handy work.

“I went in in an expert way with precision and like an x-acto knife, putting Saran wrap over the toilet. But you couldn’t see it. I looked at angles and — with the lighting it was just perfect. You just couldn’t see it,” Somerhalder said.

Ian Somerhalder. Image © Abbey White/ScreenSpy 2015

Ian Somerhalder. Image © Abbey White/ScreenSpy 2015

After recounting the almost events of a well-planned prank, Somerhalder shared some exciting news about The Vampire Diaries March 12th episode, which saw him take the director’s chair for the first time.

According to the actor, he very recently put the finishing touches on “The Downward Spiral.”

“I just turned in my cut yesterday,” Somerhalder revealed.

So what was it like going from actor to director?

“Coolest thing ever. I worked with 130 people – well, even more with artists included, about 170 who all had my back. I had an incredible story that Brian Young and Caroline Dries wrote. And literally a group of my – my cast – my brothers and sisters, everyone had my back,” Somerhalder said.

The experience wasn’t just fun for the actor though. It was also a learning opportunity.

“It was the coolest environment to learn in,” Somerhalder said. “And thank you Warner Bros for the couple million bucks to spend really creating an incredible 42 minutes of television. It was my favorite professional experience ever. And I’ve done some cool shit. That was the coolest thing ever imaginable.”

He also had some serious appreciation for the episode title.

“The episode is called ‘The Downward Spiral’ which is actually my favorite Nine Inch Nails album. Every episode of this show this season is a song from 1994,” Somerhalder said. “The early 90s were actually really badass for music.”

Somerhalder left fans with a request for the upcoming March 12 episode.

“If you can, watch this episode live. Get the whole experience and show the network and the studio that you care. That’s the only way they really know who watched it. But it’s a fun episode. It’s pretty badass.”

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