For the next two weeks I’m counting down the top 10 features on JimHalterman.com based on reader traffic.
Coming in at #9 in the Best of 2010 countdown is my October chat with Kevin Williamsson. The Vampire Diaries has not disappointed once this season so I had to talk to Kevin about how he crafted season 2.
As the second season of the CW hit series The Vampire Diaries continues to prove that the words ‘sophomore slump’ mean nothing in the world of Mystic Falls, I thought it was a good time to check in with Executive Producer Kevin Williamson to talk about shaping these fantastic season two episodes, beefing up some of the supporting roles such as Candice Accola and Michael Trevino’s characters, if any more characters will pop up from the L.J. Smith books, what we can expect to come in the next few episodes and those pesky rumors/wants that I heard from the fans via Twitter about Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) and Tyler (Trevino) becoming more than friends. Is there a Jyler in the works? Read on and find out…
Jim Halterman: I have to say that I’m loving what you and Julie are stirring up this season.
Kevin Williamson: Thank you. Yes, we’re having fun!
JH: I can tell you are. So, first question, was there a concern about a sophomore slump going into the second season?
KW: Yeah, you’re always worried that the audience isn’t going to follow and you never know when the tipping point is going to be but I think we have some loyal fans now and they seem to be sticking with us. We’re just trying to deliver for them.
JH: What advice did you give your actors when they and the show really blew up last year in terms of how to handle it? Except for Ian, the attention was probably a very new experience for them.
KW: Nobody wants my advice and I don’t know what to tell people. [laughs] But, yeah, it is overwhelming and there’s no right or wrong way to handle it. The good news about this cast is I’ve got a really good group of kids – they’re not kids, they’re young adults – and they’re very grounded. The fact that they’re tucked away down in Atlanta helps a lot. Everyone is sort of their normal self; the same person they were when we cast them.
JH: And this isn’t the first time you shot a series outside of Hollywood.
KW: Right, it was the same thing with Dawson’s Creek when everyone was in Wilmington (North Carolina). It’s such a family environment. We all went down there together and everyone is friends and we all hang out together. It’s fun.
JH: In the second season, you’re really giving a lot of the supporting characters a chance to shine. Can you talk about giving particularly Candice and Michael more to do this year?
KW: Well, Candice, I just kind of knew that this girl had it. I just knew if I could get to a second season that she would blow up. I knew I wanted to go this route with her. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off or that the network would support it but I wanted to turn her into a vampire. I knew it would open up the supporting character world and the dynamics. If you noticed last year, if you weren’t in the know about the vampires you kind of got side-barred a little in terms of storyline so I needed the story to involve our secondary characters – by that I mean not our triangle – like Tyler. I knew Trevino and Candice would get a lot of focus this year. Now Jenna and Alaric are on my radar and I’m kick starting them for the back nine to get their storyline up and running. There’s just so much you can do with 42 and a half minutes.
JH: That was one of my wants last year was more Trevino! He’s not only hot but he’s really showed that he’s a good actor!
KW: He’s really very skilled and he’s got the goods. He just needs the material so that’s been fun this year to be able to give him more to do. As we move forward, you’ll see a lot more Candice and Trevino and actually Zach Roerig (Matt) pops in the middle and comes forward really quick.
JH: Well, as long as you keep Trevino running and sweaty with his shirt off…
KW: Right?! How about all of them? They should just all take their shirts off. We’re sitting in the writer’s room going “Stefan enters the room and takes his shirt off and…then what?” [laughs]
JH: I didn’t realize until I tweeted that I would be talking to you that there was such a drive to get Jeremy and Tyler in bed together! Did you know about this?
KW: Okay, who’s saying that?
JH: I got at least half a dozen emails about it. I hadn’t thought about it but it did make me wonder about having some gay characters and storylines pop up on the show. What are your plans for any of that including Tyler and Jeremy.
KW: Well, certainly not with those two characters, I’m sad to say so we’ll just have to dream about that. If I bring on a gay character onto our show…I’m really not interested in a coming out storyline because I’ve done it [on Dawson’s Creek with Kerr Smith’s Jack character]. A coming out storyline doesn’t really excite me. Bringing a gay character to me would be incredibly exciting but I just want to do it right and I want to do it when it feels good and not force it and bring them on just to have a gay character. I want something I can really dive into and relish. We have Caroline’s Dad in the wings. He is set up to be gay and in a relationship with another man and that’s really all we know about Caroline’s Dad. He is a founding family member so I do envision a day when he comes onto the scene and wreaks havoc.
Here’s a clip of this week’s PLAN B episode…
JH: So no Jyler but since Jeremy and Tyler have always been frenemies thus far is that where they’re going to stay or is it going to go more one way or another?
KW: They’re certainly bonded with so much backstory like Vicki and now the werewolf stuff and their founding families but I think it’s going to take a lot for them to really trust each other especially now that Tyler is a full-blown werewolf and he’s about to transform at the next full moon.
JH: I cannot wait for that! Now, think back and tell me about what you saw in Nina to have her able to play Elena and Katherine. Did you see that in her from the get-go of casting her?
KW: We knew. I think she’s got the goods and is a terrific actress. We have been watching her evolve before our eyes. She’s become this amazing actress and I feel like she’s having fun doing it and it shows. It shows that she gets to the set and dances around. You can see it in her eyes when you engage her and talk to her and you can tell that she really loves what she does.
JH: Now that you know the fans are so committed to your regular characters on the show, does it make it harder to think about killing one of them off the show and keeping those stakes alive, so to speak?
KW: It’s very difficult. We’re worried. I always worry and I want to make sure that I honor the fans and ultimately please them but at the same time we’re a vampire show and if there’s no life and death consequences it’s going to hurt the show. Unfortunately, people do die in our world and I hate to say it but I’ll try to give them a great storyline and a swan song but sometimes those sudden deaths are predictable and shocking. I just can’t keep everyone alive unfortunately.
JH: Was there a time when you talked about doing a Big Bad of the Week kind of thing sometime down the line?
KW: I think Julie mentioned that at Comic Con or from an interview and I think what she meant by that was if we ever evolved into that show. Right now, we’re sort of an epic love story/horror/soap/Dark Shadows/whatever. We’re kind of a hybrid. If we hybrid that way then, sure, but I don’t know how it would and I don’t particularly see it becoming that show. I think a couple of seasons in we will have more things that go bump in the night and more creatures but I don’t think we’ll become monster of the week. I think she made that comment in reference to season 5 or 6 and she said we might evolve into that but I don’t know how. I wouldn’t even know what to write. I do think there’s a world to that show but I don’t know how it is going to transition into that.
JH: I said recently on my site that I thought Vampire Diaries was better than True Blood in terms of storytelling and I took a lot of shit from the True Blood fans.
KW: Oh really? I love True Blood. How dare you!
JH: I did love it but I sure didn’t love it this past season.
KW: Oh no! Why not?
JH: I felt that story wise it was all over the place and sloppy. I want a good story and didn’t feel like I was getting story from the show.
KW: I’m thoroughly engaged in that show 100%. I do watch every episode and I’m a huge fan of it.
JH: I want to ask about the L.J. Smith’s books. Are you going to be pulling any new characters from the books anytime soon?
KW: We always try to bring in characters from the book when possible even if they’re just sort of small, peripheral characters. I do envision a world in which Meredith [Sulez] does make her way onto the show. I do think there’s a world for Meredith. She may not be exactly as written…even though no character on the show has been 100% adapted just as they were written originally. We’ve taken some liberty and hopefully the audience will let us have some more liberty there, too. I’m not sure when we can bring her in. We have so many characters as it is I don’t know what to do with another character at this point…until I kill them off to make room for Meredith. [laughs]
JH: Now, we just had a rerun so what can we all mouth water over in anticipation for this coming week’s new episode, “Plan B?”
KW: The next episode is the one right before our Halloween episode. We sort of have a two-parter (“Plan B” and “Masquerade”) where we set up the Masquerade Ball at the Lockwood estate. It’s something that the Mayor had already put into motion before he died so they carry through with it. It is where they sort of put a plot in motion to once and for all take care of Katherine and it’s a very Katherine-focused episode. It’s all about saving everyone and doing away with Katherine.
JH: I love that you didn’t get rid of Katherine right away and that she’s been around for awhile. She’s so fun!
KW: Well, Katherine is that character that I don’t want to abuse. She’s set some balls in motion for us and then she might disappear but I’ve been having so much fun with Nina playing the part that I just keep writing Katherine. [laughs]
JH: I love that even when Katherine isn’t around you always feel like she’s out there mixing it up somehow or somewhere.
KW: And episode six and seven – particularly seven – there are some major game changers. You know what game changer typically means…
JH: I cannot wait! Thanks for your time, Kevin, and say HI to Julie!
KW: Thanks, Jim!
The Vampire Diaries airs every Thursday at 8/7 on the CW.