Julie Plec Is Actually a Comedian
If you thought last week’s THE VAMPIRE DIARIES premiere was intense, just wait until you see tonight’s excellent episode. In fact, you may find yourself a little emotional at times.
But while you wait patiently for “Memorial,” I spoke with THE VAMPIRE DIARIES showrunner Julie Plec about the passionate fandom, what’s to come, how long she sees the show running, and more…
You’re four seasons in, but does it ever throw you how much interest there is in the show?
Julie Plec: One thing that I felt has happened over the [first] three years is people’s interest and attention to the show has continued to grow, grow, grow, as opposed to it feeling like a flash in the pan.
I will tell you this: Peter Roth — my [Warner Bros.] boss — said to [THE VAMPIRE DIARIES co-creator] Kevin [Williamson] and me at season 1, that season 1, you gotta kick ass, because you got to make your statement. Season 2, you have to kick ass, because you have to prove that it wasn’t just a one-hit wonder and a fluke. Season 3 is the most important season, because that is either when you cement your goodwill for life, or you lose it all.
No pressure there, clearly.
JP: And so I went into season 3 and I told all the actors, “This is the year we really need to prove to everybody that we’re good at what we do and this show is never going to falter. And the quality of storytelling, quality of production, quality of performance is our priority, and we’re going to do it, we’re going to work our asses off so nobody thinks this was just a fluke.” And we did so well in season 3 that I think in the back of our heads, we thought we could step back a little in season 4 and sleep a little. And then we get to season 4 and we realized, no, it’s been going so well, we haven’t faltered yet, let’s just drive this train all the way to the end of the series and never let anyone say, “You really blew it.” So that’s the goal.
And there’s no doubt you guys have some passionately vocal fans. For something as momentous as last season’s finale, were you glued to social media to see the reactions?
JP: As anybody who knows me knows, as much as I say it would be wise for me to go hide in a bunker, I can’t help myself. Even though I don’t want to, even though it’s bad for me, I check that Twitter.
I will tell you this, when that season finale aired, I had never in my young life on Twitter, experienced anything like the response. And, by the way, it was not all good. It was equal parts, “how dare you, you horrible bitch” as there were adoration and accolades. It was the most intense, endless responses on Twitter. Hours of people reacting emotionally. Crying, sobbing, pleading, loving, everything. It was wild. It was cool. And I’m glad I let myself experience even if some of it was hard to read.
We had decided [to make Elena a vampire] in season 2 and quickly decided that was too soon. So when we got to the end of season 2 and talking about season 3, we knew that’s where we were going to land. Everything we did was to get us there. It was great to be confident about that choice when we started the season, because then we made a lot of strategic plans and delicate, quiet little character points and story points that allowed us to take it to the end of the year.
That’s fair. As a human, Elena chose Stefan, and it certainly seems like newly vamped Elena is sticking with that choice this season. But does her transition renew the triangle in many ways?
JP: Yeah, it for sure renews the triangle. [With the finale] a lot of the outrage and heartbreak came attached from that. But for me, anyone who roots for Damon and Elena and saw that as the end of their story was watching the wrong episode, because if anything, that episode was the beginning of their story. We have six years of a show. We’re halfway through. Anything could happen. And now that Elena is going through this very complicated transition, everything is going to change. Whether it makes Stefan and Elena stronger than ever or tears them apart, I won’t say that. Same for Damon and Elena. But everything’s going to change.
You mentioned six seasons…have you talked with the network and studio to say, “Hey, I really feel this is a six year show?” Or, because it’s a hit, have there not been those conversations?
JP: Well, I think when I say six years, I mean that in the context of that’s when all the actors’ contracts expire, that’s when I plan to be on a beach in Hawaii. Could it go longer? It’s certainly something out of my control and it’s possible. But I like to think of it as a six year journey. I see year five really clearly. I see year six with semi-confident security. [Jokes] If I think of year seven, I break out in hives and have a nervous breakdown.
It’s like LOST executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse used to say — season 7 is the zombie year.
JP: Exactly. That’s actually really funny.
So what can you tease about what’s to come?
JP: What we’re doing this year, which I’m really excited about, we’re trying to start from a place of character. It’s the same show, but new circumstance. And so it’s letting us tell a lot of the same stories we started the series with: a girl keeping a secret. Her first day of high school as a vampire. There’s a lot of things we get to do now. And it’s nice and it’s rich and it’s deep. And it’s letting our actors really chew on their characters. And it’s fun and it’s fresh. And then we start laying the seeds for the big mythology and the big hook of the season, which we’ll hook into several episodes deep. Then the roller coaster is off the tracks and it’s spinning.
What role does Klaus play in that madness?
JP: The consequences of [Klaus] having spent time in Tyler’s body promises that Caroline will hate his guts for another day. Klaus, I think, will get a strange and almost amused thrill of finding different ways to break up Tyler and Caroline. It almost becomes a sport for him, because he’s not really a piner. He’s not going to sit around and cry in his tea…he’s just going to take action. And when the most evil man in the world decides he doesn’t want the girl to be with the boy, then he’s not just going to sit back and wait for them to have conflict; he’s going to create conflict. He’s kind of a naughty little vixen. A male version of a naughty little vixen.
It’s interesting you mention pining, because Ian Somerhalder (Damon) has been vocal about this not being a season where Damon pines for Elena.
JP: It’s funny, Ian keeps saying he’s not going to be pining for Elena, which is true. It’s not that he’s still not going to be in love with Elena, he’s just not going to be mopey about it. If anything, Damon has come to a place where he did everything he could to get the girl, and he still didn’t get the girl. So why try so hard? Why not just be who you are? So this season, we get Damon back to “I am who I am, if you don’t like it, screw you.” And the beauty of it is that’s the Damon we all love.
And what can you say about Bonnie’s path?
JP: Bonnie is going to have a very difficult road ahead that launched in the first episode. The consequences of that will send her on a path that could go one way or the other.
"What we’re doing this year, which I’m really excited about, we’re trying to start from a place of character." - Julie Plec, Comedian