In Episode 617 of The CW series The Vampire Diaries, entitled “A Bird in a Gilded Cage,” Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena (Nina Dobrev) set forth a plan, with the help of Bonnie (Kat Graham) and Kai (Chris Wood), to rescue Damon and Stefan’s long thought dead mother, Lily (Annie Wersching), who is trapped in the 1903 prison world. But like any great storyline on the show, there’s no way that reunion will turn out the way everyone hopes.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Annie Wersching talked about becoming a part of the popular show, refusing to choose whether she’s for Delena or Stelena, how the cast and crew are just the sweetest people to work with, all of the juicy stuff that’s coming up for Lily, when we’ll learn what she’s been up to all this time, what sort of relationship she’ll have with Damon and Stefan (Paul Wesley), and just how much fun it is to play a vampire. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: How did you come to be a part of The Vampire Diaries?
ANNIE WERSCHING: Obviously, I had heard of the show. I’d never been up for a role on the show before, so it was just a regular audition. It went well, and it was offered to me. Because there is travel involved to Atlanta, and I have two young kids, I wanted to make sure that the role was going to be juicy and worth the travel. So, I asked one of the producers for an explanation of Lily and their plans for her, and I got a couple of paragraphs about her. Once I read that, I wanted to sign up immediately. It’s been a really fun role to play, so far. There’s a lot of juicy stuff about her.
Were you aware of the size and dedication of this show’s fan base, before doing this role? Especially when you come onto a show, playing a character that’s so connected to the main characters that everybody loves, did you know just how crazy, in a good way, this fan base can be?
WERSCHING: I know, it’s so in a good way. I didn’t quite know. I’m friends with Sebastian Roché, who plays Mikael, and I talked to him about it to ask him about his experience. He was like, “Oh, my god, you’re gonna love it! The fans are crazy, in a totally good way!” He gave me a little hint that they were very rabid and very intense and awesome. It’s been fun. Like you said, I am connected so hardcore to the main boys. The fans are demanding, day after day, that I tell them whether I’m Delena or Stelena, but I won’t choose.
What was your first day on set like? Are you someone who gets nervous, when it comes to showing up on the set of a show that’s already a firmly established family, or is it fun to be the new one who’s there to stir things up?
WERSCHING: My first day, my stuff was with Kat Graham, but I met Ian [Somerhalder] in the hallway for the first time and was like, “Hi, I’m your mom!” That was strange because I’m like a year older than him. It’s always fun to come in and mix up a show that’s been on for awhile. I can be a little shy, at first, but then I get passed that. They’ve just been the sweetest people, the crew and everybody. I didn’t actually work with Paul [Wesley] for quite awhile, which was strange. A lot of my first stuff was with Damon, Ian’s character. But, he could not be a nicer person. Seriously, I don’t think there could be a nicer person.
What was your reaction when you found out that not only would you be playing the previously believed to be long dead mother of these boys, but you would also be trapped in a 1903 prison world?
WERSCHING: Yeah, I know. First of all, I was excited about getting to do period. When I went for the costume fittings, I was trying on amazing dresses. That’s really fun. And then, I was excited to see how they were going to get her out of there. It’s not too big of a spoiler that obviously she does make her way into present-day Mystic Falls. That’s also been a fun transformation. All of a sudden, she’s in a world where there’s computers and cell phones and clothes where you don’t have to wear a corset. All of that has been fun, having Lily enter into that world. I was really excited. I didn’t really know exactly what a prison world is.
What can you say about where things are headed for Lily, what her journey is, and how soon we might learn what her motivations are?
WERSCHING: In tomorrow night’s episode, you definitely learn a lot about her. Damon asks her, “What have you been doing? What’s going on? This is what we thought, and now you’re here.” Right off the bat, you get a lot of answers as to why she’s in that prison world, and what exactly happened to her, in terms of her human death and turning into a vampire. She reveals something to Damon and Elena in the prison world that is definitely a shock to them. This surprise that she tells them while she’s in the prison world is her main reason for living. That really becomes her M.O., once she leaves that prison world and tries to acclimate to present-day. You very quickly realize what she is willing to do, in order to protect things that she cares about.
Will we also learn about what this prison world has been like for Lily? Has she been wanting to get out of there for awhile now?
WERSCHING: There is this thing that she reveals to Damon and Elena, towards the end of the episode, that is very shocking, and they don’t quite know what to do with it. That will explain your question. There has been something in that prison world with her that she is protecting and taking care of.
What can we expect from her relationship with Damon and Stefan? She hasn’t seen her sons in awhile, so will there be some awkward moments when they’re reunited?
WERSCHING: For sure! As people who watch the show know, Damon doesn’t necessarily show his soft and fuzzy side. Of course, he’s a little resentful and a little sarcastic with her. She still is this prim and proper 1903 woman. I wouldn’t say they immediately go to a sweet, loving mother-son relationship, right off the bat. But I’m a few episodes in, and with both sons, a relationship is evolving, as they go. They’re pretty hurt by this news.
If she learned about everything that’s gone on while she’s been apart from her family, who do you think she’d be the most mad at, and who do you think she’d most want to hang out with?
WERSCHING: Wow! Obviously, she wants to have a relationship with her sons, but she’s been trapped in this world for a long time. It definitely takes her a minute to even connect and bond with anyone.
What’s it like to get to play a vampire? Do you enjoy getting to do all of the vampy things, or is some of it just really bizarre to act out?
WERSCHING: It’s totally bizarre. I’m such a goofball, anyway. I’m always taking behind-the-scenes photos and stuff. Every time I do something that’s a new vampire thing, I’m like, “Ooh, get a picture of me!” The first time I made a mold of my vampire teeth, I took pictures of that. Even just the vamping – either when you get vamped, or someone else vamps you – all the different ways that they shoot that stuff has been really fun, to see how they do it and to do it, for the first time.
How was the experience of making something as grounded as Bosch, in comparison? Do you like being able to straddle these very grounded in reality worlds with total fantasy worlds?
WERSCHING: Yeah. It’s been a pretty amazing experience, getting to go from Bosch to The Vampire Diaries, back-to-back, with a little Castle in between. I think the key is that, even though Bosch is very grounded and The Vampire Diaries is this fantasy world, my goal is to play Lily just as grounded as I play Brasher. For me, as an actor, that’s what I have to find. How do I make this woman exactly as grounded and real as I would any other character, even though she’s in an insane scenario?
The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursday nights on The CW.