Known to his legions of fans as Stefan Salvatore on CW’s The Vampire Diaries, actor Paul Wesley is expanding his range well beyond playing the undead. We sat down with him to chat about moving behind the camera, his love of animals, and his favorite restaurant in LA.
The Vampire Diaries' star Paul Wesley supports The Humane Society of the United States at a recent event.
You just directed your first episode, how did it go?
PAUL WESLEY: It’s something I’ve aspired to do ever since I wanted to become an actor. I’ve always been a fan of directors like Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman. It was an amazing experience. I have a whole new respect for the way a production is coordinated and the little intricacies that go into it. Also, the actors were really supportive and they didn’t make fun of me too much [laughs].
You have production companies as well?
PW: Yes, one is film-based and the other TV. The film-based one is about making movies that we love and that we believe in that don’t fit the generic prototype of films that need to come out these days. We’ve reached this odd time in film where the only sort of viable films are genre films, like horror or some sort of a thriller. Our goal is to make movies that we love that can still be commercially viable.
As for the TV front, I’ve been working in the TV business for 15 years on all sides. I have a pretty good gauge on what it takes to make a decent TV series. So far, we are cooking up some good stuff.
Tell us more about your film Before I Disappear, which was at South by Southwest.
PW: It was a bit of a passion project. Shawn Christensen—the director, writer, editor, producer, and soundtrack, he’s just a Renaissance man—he’s one of my good buddies. We met in NYC in an acting class when I was 16 years old. He won an Oscar for a short film, Curfew, and we decided to expand that short because we thought there was more story to be told. The movie is something we are really proud of. We won the audience award at SXSW and we are going to do a bunch more festivals.
You’re very involved in The Humane Society as well.
PW: I have a sort of specific thing that really infuriates me, which is factory farming. So I am trying to educate the youth about how they can do their best to not support that industry. I think it’s really repulsive. So that’s been my goal working with the Humane Society.
Do you have animals?
PW: I have a cat. It’s funny because I’ve been doing so much work with The Humane Society and everyone [kept] asking me if I had a pet, and I would [say] no. But I was walking home one day at like 2 a.m., and it was freezing—it must have been 20 degrees outside. It was right before this big storm in Atlanta. This little baby, eight-month-old kitten, was nearly frozen under a car. So I took her home. Her name is Cat.
You’re a busy guy, where do you like to go when you’re not working?
PW: There’s a little restaurant that I love—probably more for the ambiance but also the food is wonderful—called Pace (2100 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-654-8583). It’s in the hills in Laurel Canyon. If you’re in LA, I promise you’ll love it.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON MERRITT/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE HUMANE SOCIETY