'The Vampire Diaries': Taylor Kinney shows his teeth

taylor-kinney-trauma.jpg"The Vampire Diaries" is going to introduce a new species of monster this season, and these guys aren't exactly the diary-writing types. If you haven't yet heard about the werewolves about to chew up trouble in Mystic Falls, I'm very sorry about that rock you've been living under. That can't be comfortable. You should seek more traditional forms of shelter.

Now that his father is dead, Tyler ( Michael Trevino) will need some guidance through the Lockwood family curse. Cue the arrival of his Uncle Mason, the unbearably attractive Taylor Kinney.

By some miraculous twist of fate, Zap2it happened to be on the show's set in Atlanta for Kinney's first day. (I know, I know... I have a tough job.) I got a sneak peek at Uncle Mason's first encounter with Tyler in many years.

Zap2it: So I liked your big entrance.
Kinney: Wasn't that the sweatiest, swampiest day of your life? It was my birthday actually, so it was kind of a baptism by fire with the humidity and meeting everyone and jumping right into Mason. I just got thrown right into the mix.

Uncle Mason seems to be pretty mellow initially, especially compared to Tyler, but anger is kind of a Lockwood family tradition. Are we going to see Mason show his temper any time soon?
Of course. Mason grew up in Mystic Falls, but he left probably before college, before adulthood, and he's come of age now. He's learned to harness his rage and to deal with problems in a more amicable way than lashing out the way that Tyler is right now. He's comes back to Mystic Falls because of the death of his brother, but he stays because he empathizes with where Tyler is right now. He recognizes himself in Tyler and he knows the curse that's in their bloodline. He's going to try to help Tyler keep from being so on edge all the time.

What was Mason's relationship like with Mayor Lockwood, his brother?
We haven't explored it too much, but it wasn't great. I think they were at odds for a large part of their life growing up. They weren't the closest of kin, but it's still family, so I'm going to look after my brother's family the best I can.

The Mayor wasn't exactly a loving dad. Trevino told me that Tyler is still very angry with his father, even after his death. Is Mason going to be a father figure?
Nope. It's definitely more of a big brother thing than a father thing. I'm not trying to replace Tyler's dad by any measure -- I don't want to stand in those shoes. It's not easy for anyone to grow up without a father. Having a mentor in the family is a blessing, you know, and Tyler never had that. I now look at Tyler and say, "I know what you're going through. I know what could happen."

He's like Tyler's werewolf guru.
Yes! He knows that there are certain things that can trigger the curse and certain things Tyler can do to keep it under control. I'm looking out for him so that he doesn't lose it.

When you took this role, what kind of conversations did you have about the whole werewolf transformation thing? Did you worry at all about it looking cheesy?
There's always a bit of trepidation in taking on a new role, and especially for something supernatural like "The Vampire Diaries," because I haven't really gone there before. You have this long list of questions: how are you going to do this, how are you going to do that. So I talked with the executive producers and the showrunners and was definitely reassured that there wasn't going to be some ridiculous transformation where I have to wear hair extensions. 58774.jpg

Definitely draw the line at hair extensions.
Right? I should put that in my contract. But after those conversations, I was completely confident that it's not going to be something silly that we can't pull off. I haven't seen the end result of the transformation yet, but I know it's going to be high quality stuff. You know the attention to detail that Julie [Plec] and Kevin [Williamson] put into this show. Any worry I may have had is out the window.

Julie and Kevin said that they were literally casting actual wolves to find ones that look like you and Trevino. Have you seen your wolf yet?
There are two different companies that come to set with this team of wolves. It's pretty amazing. They're incredible creatures. They're like twice the size of Rottweilers and they have these roaming eyes that are just kind of luminescent. I'm not sure which two they picked for Mason and Tyler, but you'll be able to distinguish between the two. You'll know by looking at them which one is which. I don't know how much it'll really look like me. I don't have a mane of hair going down my back that they could match up or anything, but I know it's going to look badass.

When you were deciding what to do after "Trauma," what was it about "The Vampire Diaries" that caught your eye?
The genre, for one. "Trauma" was a great show, but it ended early. I learned an awful lot and I got to work with a lot of great people, but I really wanted to do something different this time. I was up for a couple of projects that fell through, but when this came up I was really excited. The genre is hot. Who doesn't want to play a supernatural character? Who doesn't want to explore that? This kid comes out in me, because there's a real magic in it. It's been a blast and a real challenge.

What's been the most exciting part of it?
They do the transformation stuff with CGI and green screen, so I haven't really seen much of that, but the coolest thing for me has been doing a lot of the stunts. We have a great stunt coordinator on set and just getting in there and getting to work with him to choreograph fight scenes and the moments that lead up to the transformation - it's been so much fun. It's really exhilarating.

Speaking of fight scenes, there are some moments between Mason and Tyler that get pretty physical.
Tyler's on edge. He's kind of a d***. He didn't get along with his old man, and his mom just steered clear of everything. She threw in her two cents on occasion but it wasn't necessarily anything Tyler wanted or needed to hear. I'm the first person in Tyler's life that levels with him, no bulls***. This is what it is. He gets himself into situations and I see him drowning in it, and I'm there to get him to chill out and try to turn the other cheek. I'll say "Walk away, it's not worth it," and he'll nod and move on, but then suddenly it's a week later and we're at a carnival and he's starting another fight in the parking lot.

Mason has an ability to be at the right place at the right time for the wrong reasons. I see Tyler get into these scrapes and then I jump in there. I'm just trying to show him that I care. Like, "Here's somebody that gives a s***." Tyler likes to start fights.

How is working with Trevino? I hear he's a troublemaker. (Kidding, folks.)
He's terrible. Can't stand the dude. No, it's great. I hadn't been to Atlanta before so he helped me get acclimated and get my feet into the city. We'd go out and he'd show me around. We went to a Braves game the other week. He gets some pretty sick tickets, that kid. He's been really gracious. Having that rapport helps on set.

How are you liking Atlanta?
Love it. I just got back, and I went to a Salvador Dali exhibit nearby. There's a lot of culture here. I have such an appreciation for art - you know, when you're a kid and you go to these museums on field trips, you don't recognize what's in front of you. You're more interested in pinching the girl from your math class. Now I can appreciate it. There's a lot of culture in Atlanta.

You're so sophisticated!
[Laughs] What if I was lying? What if I was really in a bar on my sixth Budweiser?  

58778.jpgDon't break my heart.
No, no. I was really stoked on the Dali, seriously.

Is Mason going to tangle with the Salvatore brothers?

Yes. Historically, the Lockwoods and the Salvatores haven't gotten along. For his own peace of mind, Mason tries to be the mediator. He's a relaxed kind of guy, but he knows that he can snap at any minute, so he tries to keep things level. The Salvatores are trying to figure out why I'm here, aside from Tyler, you know, Mason's got his own thing going on. They're putting it all together. There are little things that we find out - Mason isn't just in town to take care of Tyler. Everybody has an agenda. When the Salvatores push, at some point, Mason is going to push back. Getting bombarded by Damon or Stefan is never a good thing. I'm thinking there will definitely be fisticuffs.

Historically, throughout the genre, werewolves and vampires don't get along very well. No town is big enough for the both of them.
Exactly. The vampires and the citizens of Mystic Falls who are in alliance with the vampires don't really know who is a werewolf, but they know that something is going on with the Lockwoods because of the circumstances of the Mayor's death. They don't know if it's just me, or if Tyler has something to do with it, and they don't know if Tyler's mom knows what's going on.

It sounds like everyone is confused.
There's a lot of brow raising right now.

There's always a lot of brow raising with Damon and Stefan. They have busy brows.
Yes, yes they do. Right now, everyone's trying to figure things out until there's a full on fight, werewolves on one side, vampires on another. There's not yet a clear line divided where everyone knows which side they're on. We're keeping everyone on their toes.

Are they threatened by Mason from the get-go?
Mason is the new kid in school. The Salvatores are very rooted in Mystic Falls. Right now, Damon has a hand in the politics and an in with the authorities. They've taken over the town, undercover. Everyone's looking at Mason like "Who is this guy, and what does he want?" When they find out he's a threat and he actually possesses something that could steal their thunder, it doesn't go down well with them.

He makes a splashy entrance, rolling his big loud truck up to the mansion.
That is the dopest truck in the world. That thing is mean.

Are you going to have any love interests on the show?
It's early to say yes for sure, but I can tell you, Mason is a lover. He grew up there, so there are bound to be people from his past in town. Maybe there's a relationship rekindled in the future. Right now, it's not high on his priority list, though.

"The Vampire Diaries" has a tendency to kill people off left and right. Do you know anything about Uncle Mason's longevity?
Ha! You think you've got this deep character with some life to him, but you never know with Kevin Williamson. He did those "Scream" movies. I remember going to watch the first "Scream," and there's Drew Barrymore, and she's this big star and a great character... and she gets killed off in the first scene. Kevin likes to keep it fresh. I may get into the wrong side of a fight with a vampire, you never know. I hope not; I want to be howling at the moon for a while. Hey, Kevin, please don't make me Drew Barrymore.

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Photo credit: CW







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