Fangy daddy Ian Somerhalder returns to the small screen this week in Netflix’s sleek new vampire series V Wars. But Somerhalder isn’t playing a vampire this time. Nope, he’s stepped into the role of vampire hunter.
V Wars is based on the comics of the same name by Jonathan Maberry and Alan Robinson. It tells the tale of Dr Luther Swann (Somerhalder), whose entire world goes to shits when a mysterious disease transforms his best friend, Michael Fayne (Adrian Holmes), into a murderous predator who feeds on other humans. And he’s not the only one, either – thousands of humans have caught the disease and as it spreads, society fractures into opposing camps. Swann must race against time to find a cure, while best mate Fayne rises to become the powerful underground leader of the vampires.
The series also stars Jacky Lai, Peter Outerbridge, Kyle Breitkopf, Laura Vandervoort, and Kimberly-Sue Murray.
Now I’ll be honest, the only reason I was interested in watching V Wars was because of one Mr Ian Somerhalder. But after chatting to the actor, I’ve officially added it to my ‘to binge’ list.
Somerhalder, in case you didn’t know / live in a hole, starred as vampire Damon Salvatore in 171 episodes of The Vampire Diaries. That’s eight seasons of being a vamp, so you can’t blame him for having “some trepidation” before he signed on for yet another vampire-related role.
“My wife [Nikki Reed AKA Rosalie from Twilight] was the one that really hit it home and reminded me that these are apples and oranges. You can’t compare the two shows because they’re just very different.”
Why, you ask? Because this is, to Somerhalder’s knowledge, the “first vampire show where there’s nothing supernatural about these vampires”. It’s all science and medical-based.
No disrespect to Damon, Somerhalder reckons he’s one of the best-written characters on television ever, but he was really excited to “try the other side, to play a character who’s a superhero”.
“Swann is very different to Damon – Damon’s sexy, snarky, dangerous, and fun – he was kind of an asshole. But Swann is normal, he’s just a good dude. He goes for runs in the morning with his best friend Michael, he drinks organic single origin coffee, and he drives his kids to school before going to work.
“But he’s about to have his whole fucking world flipped upside down.”
V Wars is so much more than just another vampire show, Somerhalder continues, because it deals with what’s happening in our world right now.
“Climate change, borders, racism, fear, politics – politics of fear,” he lists. “What I love about the show is that we have the ability to explore these areas through entertainment. We’re not bludgeoning people over the head with what I think because at the end of day, who fucking cares what I think? I’m not a world-renowned scientist, I’m not a policy maker, I’m an actor. But the stuff that’s in the show is actually happening right now, and that’s what I love about it.”
Somerhalder founded the Ian Somerhalder Foundation almost nine years ago. The non-profit is dedicated to amplifying voices, especially in youth education, about environmentalism. And Somerhalder uses his clout to do just that… unlike some people in Australia’s media landscape.
“At the end of the day, The Vampire Diaries is a young adult show and so a very large majority of the viewership was young.
“The greatest untapped natural resource we have on this planet is kids. Our youth hold the key to our future so why would we double, triple, quadruple down on them and their ability to step into those vital, vital shoes, those roles of taking care of this planet?”
Like many of us, Somerhalder is fucking terrified of the climate crisis.
“This isn’t something we only hear about in our own echo chambers. This is something you can read about when you’re flipping through Facebook or Instagram. You don’t need to read a scientific journal to know this is happening. Climate change is happening everywhere.”
As for V Wars, Somerhalder is excited for his fans to see a new take on vampires. And keep a look out for episode nine because he directed it, along with starring in and producing the series.
“So check it out and if you don’t like it, just let it run,” Somerhalder laughs. “Because I want to get into a season 2.”
V Wars premieres December 5 only on Netflix. Add it to the list.Image: Getty Images / Jun Sato