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Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley on Hero Fatigue, Stelena’s Future, and Stefan’s Hot New Love

The Vampire Diaries’s Paul Wesley. Photo: Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty Images

For five seasons now, fans of The Vampire Diaries have battled it out over whether Elena Gilbert — she of the tousled coffee waves and impish grin — belongs with bad-boy Damon or good-guy Stefan. And now we may have the definite answer from Stefan’s alter ego himself, Paul Wesley. We caught up with Wesley — who is currently on the set of The Vampire Diaries in Atlanta, shooting season six — to discuss the season-six premiere, and he has some bad news for Stelena fans.

When we left Mystic Falls in the season-five finale, things had really imploded. Like, literally.
Yes, everyone had to scatter or die, basically. Stefan can’t go back to Mystic Falls, or he’ll die because of the stuff that happened last season — anybody with supernatural powers will immediately go back to their human form, and then they die how they actually would have died. So for Stefan, those bullet wounds from 1854 would just open and he’d die. Wouldn’t want that.

And the word is that Stefan is not traipsing across existential planes trying to locate Damon.
No. I’m a mechanic. I’m a car mechanic. I don’t know — I think Stefan is just trying to assimilate, and it’s a pretty arbitrary career choice. But he really needs a break.

Okay, this is making me nervous, because it feels like Dexter and the whole lumberjack thing.
Oh, I’ve never seen Dexter. Is it bad?

It’s a bit anticlimactic, actually.
Well, you know, he just needs a break. For five seasons, every time things with Damon end up imploding, it’s Stefan to the rescue. And that’s getting old. So this time, when Julie Plec and I talked about how Stefan spent his summer, she was like, “Looking for Damon, of course.” And I was like, “No!” I said, “Can we try a different approach? Can he bail, for once? Let Damon deal with it.” And Julie really liked that idea. It’s not forever, but it’s his reaction to things. It changes the game.

And so, with Damon stuck in the other realm and Stefan off fixing cars, Elena is without a Salvatore by her side. Whatever will she do?
Um, she’s losing her mind. She can’t handle it. At all.

Elena and the brothers Salvatore have been one of the juiciest love triangles on TV for six seasons. Does it ever get old for you guys?
Yeah. I mean, there are only so many ways you can do it after a certain point. I almost don’t feel like it’s a love triangle anymore. I know it’s advertised as that — and I know that’s how it started. But Elena and Stefan are so platonic at this point that I just don’t really see that ever happening again.

Paul, you’re breaking a lot of Stelena shippers’ hearts right now. Truly.
I mean, never say never. But I just can’t really see it happening, unfortunately. And I hate to say it for those Stelena fans. But it’s just become so platonic.

So what becomes of the lovelorn Stefan?
Well, him and Caroline seem to have a connection. I’d like to see that go down. I’m all for that. So they’re ready to explore that. We’ve just got to get them over that friendship hump, let them get down and dirty, and then deal with the consequences.

Hmmm … would that make things really awkward?
You mean between me and Candice Accola and her fiancé [Fray guitarist Joe King], who’s a good friend of mine?

Are you going to the wedding?
I am! It’s fun. We all hang out. They’re a great couple, I adore them both. But on the show, things won’t be awkward. Yeah, Caroline is Elena’s best friend forever. But I mean, Damon is Stefan’s brother. That wasn’t awkward, right? And I mean, I really feel like Elena and Stefan are really platonic. The only awkward thing is getting Caroline and Stefan through that friend barrier.

I can see people rooting for that. Staroline? Cefan?
I don’t know, but I hope so. I think there’s some chemistry there. And I think Stefan’s ready for a new love. But it will be a while. Right now, the gang’s dispersed, Stefan’s disconnected, and there’s a new guy who’s totally sociopathic in town. Stefan really doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. He’s kind of thrown his hands in the air and doesn’t care.

So we’re back to apathetic Stefan.
Not exactly. But season six is a bit of a reset for him. He’s been through a lot. Damon causes a lot of drama. They’re not in high school anymore, thank God! He’s going into his own head, working with his hands, tuning it all out.

And of course, eventually, he’ll have to go help Damon.
But not for a long time. I kind of wanted to do the antithesis of that this year. I don’t like it when he’s too noble — it’s boring. I like really flawed Stefan. I like when he’s doing something, and he knows it’s wrong, but he has to do it anyway. I like when he’s not particularly heroic. He’s been the hero for so long. I find the flaws to be very interesting. It’s what makes him human.

You’ve got two indies coming up, too, Before I Disappear and Sam and Amira.
IFC will be doing Before I Disappear in November — and it’s a very low-budget New York City dark comedy. It’s about a junkie stuck watching his 12-year-old niece. And I produced it, it went to SXSW and a few other festivals. The character is the opposite of Stefan, a real antihero, an antagonist, and it’s so nice to do something different. I can’t wait for everyone to see it. And I shot Amira and Sam in two weeks — and it’s another real New York indie. It’s about an Iraqi immigrant girl who’s facing deportation and she falls in love with a soldier who’s just returned. My character Charlie is a Wall Street head honcho, a bit of a shark. But he’s funny. And again, so not Stefan. Both of these roles are not the hero, and that was a really nice thing for me to experience, because I’ve been playing the hero for the past five seasons on the show.

Okay, so one last time, just to be clear: Stelena? No more? Not the endgame?
Okay, so maybe it’s still the endgame. But maybe not. I just don’t see how that will happen. She and Damon are such a thing right now — even I’m rooting for them. But it’s unpredictable. Damon’s sort of dead. Elena’s a mess. Caroline’s around, and cute. Things change. We have to let them change! But I don’t know what Julie has up her sleeve. You never know on this show.

Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley on Stelena’s Future