'The Vampire Diaries' Season 3 preview: Ian Somerhalder tells us why Damon might let Stefan go

damon-elena-necklace.jpgJust a little over a month until "The Vampire Diaries" Season 3 premieres on Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. on The CW. The first episode, "The Birthday," takes place on Elena's 18th -- but she's having a tough time celebrating with her friends while her boyfriend is indulging his monster instincts all over the country.

The new trailer released is positively sizzling (Hello, Caroline jumping into bed with Tyler. Hello. Rewind. Pause. Hello.) and gives away some juicy moments from the first episode. In it, we see Damon tell Elena, "Stefan's gone, Elena. You can forget about him. He's not coming back."

Has Damon given up on Stefan? We talked to Ian Somerhalder to get the scoop.

"Damon knows this cycle with his brother," Somerhalder tells us. "He's seen it before, totally. He says to Elena, 'Stefan's not coming back. Not in your lifetime.' I mean, she's young, but human beings only live maybe eighty years. For Stefan and Damon, that's nothing. Unless Klaus rips their hearts out, they're going to live for another thousand years."

Damon still has some hope that Stefan will eventually be Stefan again, but in the meantime, he's been tracking his brother's progress with newspaper clippings that hint at the havoc that Stefan and Klaus are wreaking. In the beginning of the season premiere, though, Damon isn't actively searching for Stefan.

"I don't think that Damon's focus is really to save Stefan, because he understands that if Stefan doesn't want to be found, he's not going to be, and in some weird way Damon respects that. He's been there, too, not very long ago," he says.

Despite everything, though, Somerhalder says that Damon isn't aggressively pursuing Elena in his brother's absence. "He wants Elena to be happy and he wants her to be safe," he explains, "and she'll try anything crazy to find Stefan, so he's looking out for her."

Judging by the trailer below, Damon and Stefan aren't exactly giving each other man-hugs when they do finally reunite. "Oh, make no mistake about it, Damon's pissed off at Stefan," Somerhalder laughs. "For two seasons he tried to get Stefan to do exactly what he's doing now, to drink blood, with Damon. And now he's running off doing exactly that thing, but with some a**hole that Damon can't stand. A guy that tried to kill Damon and everyone they care about."

Is Damon feeling a little jealous of Klaus, perhaps? "Stefan's left Damon here in Mystic Falls. Now he's got to protect this girl that he loves, but that he can't have, because it's his brother's girl -- and even though it's Damon, he can't do that to his brother," Somerhalder says. "And even if he could, she doesn't love him anyway. She wants his brother. So when he finally sees Stefan, it's like, 'I tried for two seasons to get you to do this and now you're off running around with this idiot.' That's all Damon wanted in Season 1, was his brother to run around with him and munch on sorority girls and bring down the house wherever they went, and Stefan said no. Now he's left Damon here all by himself, to fend for himself, and protect this girl who is 150 years his junior. He's not happy about it."

On some level, Stefan is enjoying the ripping -- he had to work so hard to be noble and good for so long that giving in to his weaknesses now takes a bit of a weight off his shoulders. As you'll see in the first few episodes of the season, Stefan doesn't plan on coming back for Elena. He thinks she's better off without him... and when he's in this state, he's probably right.

There's been a definite role reversal -- though we will say that Stefan's "ripper" rampage is much bloodier than the spree of killings we saw from Damon in Season 1 -- and we couldn't help but wonder if Somerhalder misses the days when Damon was bloodthirsty, reckless, and a little unhinged.

"I do, a lot, but I realize that there are ebbs and flows," he says. "This is a hundred-episode arc of a character, and he can't just be one dimensional. I was worried that Damon was becoming this hero, and Kevin [Williamson] said 'No, he's not the hero. He needs to be, but he's the anti-hero, because he's supposed to be not hurting people, but that's not his nature.' So he slips, and his response is 'Screw this.' Now, I think that struggle, that push and pull for Damon is what's going to make this season interesting for me as an actor and interesting for Damon as a character. I don't want to lose that quote-unquote 'bad' side of Damon."

He pauses, then adds, "You're not going to see Damon crying this season. Trust me."


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