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Was it easier to play a wolf [in Wolf Lake] or a vampire?
PW: (laughs) Yeah. I went from playing a wolf, to an angel [in Fallen], to a vampire…. I’m going to be a succubus in my next series. [audience laughs] Playing a wolf was easier – it was more innate – animalistic.. Vampires are more like… poets, so it takes more work. [In Wolf Lake] I could act more aggressive – like an aggressive high school jock – and get the job done.
What was it like working with the dolphins on Beneath the Blue?
[Audience and Paul laughing] It’s a lovely family film; nice times in the Bahamas. Here’s the thing: I did it like five years ago and CW decided to air this film of me swimming with dolphins in a baby blue bathing suit. (laughs) I’m like “what the hell?!” I’m trying to be this badass vampire – people tune into CW on a Thursday night expecting a TVD re-run of Ripper Stefan – and here I am, petting dolphins. [Audience laughing] It was a lovely experience but I feel like it could have stayed in the video section [at a movie store]. I mean, it’s “Stefan the Ripper!” then me [pantomimes swimming]. WTF? (laughs)
What is your favorite TVD episode?
1920’s Ripper. Definitely. It’s so great because it’s uninhibited Stefan – just pure dark and evil. No conscience. It was the antithesis of Season 1 and Season 2 Stefan. It was lovely; I’d love to revisit that era again. Also love doing scenes with Klaus. [In a girl voice:] ”He’s so hot!” [audience cheers]
If you could be any other supernatural being, what would you be?
What other supernatural beings do they have? [Audience suggests some, including a fairy] Ooh, a fairy! Yay! (laughing) Actually, I think Stefan should be a fairy. [audience laughing] Great. That just became a huge opening for the rest of the cast to rip on me. [in a mocking voice] “Ooh Paul said he wanted to be a fairy.” Let me leave myself wide open for that. Thanks. (laughs)
Who is your favorite actor to work with?
Jo! Ian! Nina! [all cheering – someone yells out “Torrey?”] Yeah…
Honestly, Daniel Gillies.
And Matt Davis.
Are you interested in directing – would you ever consider that?
Oh yeah, definitely! I need to convince the producers next year to let me direct an episode. I have some strong opinions about directing, and I think I’d be pretty good at it. So yeah, I’d love to direct.
If Stefan was human for a day, what would he do?
Nothing. I mean, nothing that he can’t do now…. [someone yells out “Reproduce!”] Ohh reproduuuuce…. (laughs) Make like, seven Stefan babies… continue the lineage. [someone yells out: “I volunteer!”] (waving her up) Come on! Six more to go!
What would you change about Stefan?
Nothing; he’s perfect. Flawless individual. The Elena and Stefan storyline is an integral part… in making children cry. – If Stefan were to reproduce, that would really make children of the world cry. – I get it, Stefan and Elena, love is infinite, blah, blah, blah…. [All laughing]
But he should stop being so mopey. I fell in love with the dark side of the character. So when he starts to fall back into old Stefan – the overprotective, overbearing father – I’m like “ugh I don’t want to do this”. (laughs)
Although I am grateful for the character, so I guess I wouldn’t change anything.
How did you get into acting?
You know the Jeopardy Theme song [sings a part of it]? When I was a kid – this is so stupid – I went up to my parents and just sang that song. My mom was like “Oh! That’s so good! He should be an actor!” – That’s how it all went down. And that’s where I got my chops. (laughs)
Do you remember the first time you gave an autograph?
(laughs) I thought it was a mistake! It was when I was on the Soap [Another World]. I signed a three-year deal – and the show was cancelled three months later [all laughing] – I was walking between sets and some women saw me and asked for my autograph. I was like “Oh no, I’m not – my part hasn’t even aired yet.” I was really nervous. They were like “I know – can we have your autograph?” So, I like was shaking, and leaned over to sign and I didn’t know what to do and I said “I’ve never signed an autograph before.” The woman said “It’s okay.” So I said “Okay” and gave her my autograph. [audience laughing] I immediately called my mom and told her “Mom! Someone asked me for my autograph!” (laughs)
What is your favorite memory between filming scenes?
In Season 1 – it’s on the blooper reels – when we [Nina, Paul, and Ian] were doing one of the flashbacks and Nina fell on her ass. We thought we were so cool in our wardrobe – then bahhhhh! – and Nina fell in her big dress. We needed it. (laughs) She wasn’t hurt. It was great.
What was the hardest scene to shoot?
The bridge scene! [When Stefan threatened to drive Elena over the bridge] It was so hard for me, and I got so frustrated – I thought I didn’t get it.
Oh, and the phone call to Elena [First episode of the season when he calls Elena from Tennessee]. (laughing) This scene was filmed outside in public – and there were like 40 fans — God bless our fans — but they were right in my eyeline; just a gaggle of people taking photos. I was like [to the crew on set] “guys can we do something about this? I need some help here” [implying for them to make the people move] and they said “nope we can’t do anything about it; this is public property”. So here I am trying to do this emotional scene, supposed to be calling Elena and crying, looking directly at these people waving – one woman was literally like this [waving hands very dramatically over his head] – and she was like “Nope! I ain’t movin’!” [audience laughing] But they edited it and made me look like I was a good actor. (laughs)
Who has been your favorite actor to work with?
[Someone yelled out “the dolphin!”] (laughs) No, the dolphin was number 2! Ian Somerhalder. [all laughing] No. JK. Vincent D’Onofrio. I did an episode on Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I was terrible, but he was just so great – the interrogation scene – He was just interesting to watch.
What vampire would you create an alliance with?
R-Patt! [Robert Pattinson. Some of the audience cheers] We’d be the duo with the hair – invading your hair salon. (laughs) For the record: I’ve had this hair forever. [all laughing]
Willem Dafoe in Shadow of a Vampire. We would sit in his cave and discuss vampire issues… trade stories. (laughs)
[Someone yells out “Count Chocula!”] Yeah! Count Chocula. I just stole your answer from now on. (laughs) He used to scare the shit out of me.