How did you react to hearing the show was killing Jake and you would be playing Stefan again? Did that take you by surprise? “It did and it didn’t, because I felt like Jake kind of lost his way. His storyline just kind of stopped. I took that as they either didn’t know what to do with him anymore or they were going to get rid of me or get rid of the character. So when [Co-Executive Producer] Albert Alarr called me, he said, ‘Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit down for this phone call, but we’re killing Jake off.’ I knew exactly where they were going. I was like, ‘Great. Bring it. I love it.’ And
they like writing those very strong, volatile leading men. So that excited me tremendously.”

So no more Pittsburgh accent? “Of course I had fun doing it, but it was nice getting back into playing Stefan. I wouldn’t say the dialect becomes a crutch after a while, but every time you act, you’re speaking with a dialect. So it took a moment to realize that not even the slightest hint of Jake could be in Stefan’s speech pattern. That’s when it was really fun. It was tangible, the difference I could feel between the two characters. To really feel, like,
the difference in RPMs between the two guys. Stefan is very slow and methodical. Jake bounces around from scene to scene, person to person, and just rolls with the punches. Stefan definitely does not. He’s very deliberate.”

What did you miss about playing Stefan? “Exactly what I just explained. Jake could never sit still. He always had to be doing something, touching something or messing with something. Stefan is a very still being. He doesn’t waste energy anywhere. That was really fun to rediscover.”

Was it easy switching back? “It’s been easier than I thought, yet it’s been a lot more deliberate than I had initially imagined. Playing Jake made me learn a lot more about Stefan than I knew when I was there in the first place. It’s almost like seeing an old friend after a long time and really sitting down with that person and listening to them. It’s been a joy to play him again. It really has been.”

Discuss the shift with Camila Banus (Gabi) afterward. Did you call her? “No. I think we were just on set one day and I said, ‘So you’ve heard?’ She was like, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Well, that will be interesting.’ We’ll see what happens. We’re playing that out now.”

What were your first scenes back as Stefan and Gabi like? “It was like seeing an old friend that had been overseas for three or four years stepping back into Stefan’s shoes. It’s like, ‘Oh, man. Good to see you. Cool…. Now we’re going to go see this person…. Oh, wow. I’m seeing this person through different eyes.’ Almost like a family reunion of sorts.”

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