On The CW series The Vampire Diaries, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) continues to spiral down a dangerous path of self-destruction, as his latest actions prove he may be beyond the point of return, forcing Stefan (Paul Wesley) to make a gut-wrenching decision. And as Bonnie (Kat Graham) gets advice from Caroline (Candice King) on how to break through to Enzo (Michael Malarkey), nanny Seline (Kristen Gutoskie) keeps things business as usual with Alaric’s (Matt Davis) twins, while everyone else remains unaware of recent revelations.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Kristen Gutoskie talked about her work on The CW’s Containment leading to this role, knowing her initial story arc when she signed on, how she approaches the character, what’s to come for Seline and her bigger plan, and what it was like to join the series in its final season. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: How did this particular role come about? Did Julie Plec immediately think of you for this character, or did you still have to audition?
KRISTEN GUTOSKIE: They were kind enough to call me and offer the part. We’d worked together on Containment, and it was just exciting to work together again. I was very honored that they came forward with that, and it was quite a change from Katie, which is really cool. It’s really, really wonderful when you get to work with the same people. Being easy to work with and being professional is currency in this business, so when you find like-minded individuals, you want to continue working with them. Julie is the coolest boss you could ever ask for, and she’s really collaborative. I tried to do my best, so it was very nice to get to work with them again.
We know that Sybil has been the Queen of Evil while Seline has been the sleeper this whole time. How much did you know about who she really was, when you signed on? Did you know this was the direction it was going, or were you as surprised as everyone else who now knows that?
GUTOSKIE: I actually did know. When they called me with the offer, they told me that she was going to do some evil things. At the risk of sounding too evil myself, I was really drawn to that. I was like, “Okay, I can have some fun with this.” So, I knew the beginning arc, but I didn’t know how the arc and story would progress. I just knew she would start off innocent, and then you’d find out that she’s not who she says she is.
When you know that, from the beginning, is that something you just have to put out of your head, or is it something that you’re always thinking about, to some extent?
GUTOSKIE: I tried to see the character as two separate people. When I was playing the first few episodes as Seline, I just wanted to see her as a really, really wholesome nanny, but I’m sure eventually they’ll bleed together. I was really excited to see the Siren stuff because I did a lot of that prep before I started, and then I put that aside and went to the nice, sweet nanny for awhile.
When you play a character like this and you hear fans talking about how they wish that Sybil and Seline were both dead, however they might want to see that happen, does that make you nervous or do you feel like that means you’re doing your job right?
GUTOSKIE: If the fans react negatively, I think I’m doing my job right. Nathalie [Kelley] and I were talking about that. She was like, “I’ve been getting all these mean tweets!” If you’re doing bad things and people are liking you, maybe you’re not committing enough. I try not to take those things too personally.
Without giving anything away, what can you say about what’s to come for Seline, especially now that the audience knows who she is, but the characters still don’t?
GUTOSKIE: I love that the audience is in on it and no one else is. That makes everyone feel like they can be in the know. It’s interesting for the audience, for sure. One thing to know about Seline is that, as much as she is this evil Siren who forced her sister to eat humans, being cast out when she’s really in her prime teenage years, she does whatever she can to survive, and doing that to her sister was her survival mode and not necessarily a vindictive thing. You’ll see her do a lot of evil, scary, dark things, but underneath all of that, I don’t think it’s her intention to be that bad. She doesn’t know any better. I think she’s trying to figure out how to be a good human, but her whole life, she’s traded on her immense Siren powers to get what she wants and to serve the Devil. She’s definitely going to make some interesting choices. She’s starting to take the twins under her wing, and she brings them to a carnival. Alaric, at this point, thinks Seline is the best nanny ever, but she has a sinister plan for the twins. Because they’re so powerful, she sees some potential in them. I think it will be very interesting to see how that pans out.
Aside from the writers, the actor playing a character knows them better than anyone. How do you feel about Seline? Is she somebody that you can root for or feel sympathy for, or is this one of those characters that you just have to have fun with and relish the evilness of it all?
GUTOSKIE: I think some people will find some sympathy for Seline because underneath all of her evil doing, she’s a lost, lonely girl who’s just trying to find her way. Hopefully, they’ll find some sympathy for her, in that way. But then, she does some things that are just so extreme that you have a hard time sympathizing with her. I think people are going to have very mixed emotions.
From the beginning, Sybil hasn’t been able to keep her evil in check, but Seline seems to be able to keep her evil hidden a bit better, even if she is just pretending. Why do you think Seline is so good at hiding her true nature from people?
GUTOSKIE: Maybe there’s some shame around it. Being Sirens, they’re queen manipulators. There’s part of Seline that actually wants to be human and have a real life. She’s a chameleon, in that way, and a lot of people can be that way. We can have days when we’re just really lovely, and we can have days when we’re miserable. She’s hiding her evil because maybe she doesn’t want to be evil, all the time. Sybil is different because she’s similar to Damon, where she got forced into this life, but then decided to relish in it and got addicted to it. I think Seline is a little bit more calculated.
Did Seline know who and what Alaric’s twins were and was she specifically interested in them when she became their nanny?
GUTOSKIE: I’m pretty sure she would have knowledge of that. Seline knows everything that’s happening, being a psychic and reading minds. I don’t think there’s anything she goes into uninformed. She’s very calculated, so I think there’s always a motivation behind her. She definitely knew what she was getting into, with the twins.
We’ve seen some of the past history between these two woman who bonded like sisters, but how do they feel about each other now? Is their bond broken, or will they always have each other to rely on?
GUTOSKIE: I think it’s a mix of both. You can compare them to Damon and Stefan, in a lot of ways. They have a very passionate love/hate relationship. I think when you spend three thousand years with anybody, you’re going to butt heads a few times. They’re very different. Sybil went from being innocent to being an obnoxious version of evil, and Seline is a little more quiet. They definitely butt heads, but at the end of the day, they’re each other’s family. When push comes to shove, they’re hopefully going to have each other’s backs. I don’t really know.
What’s it like to join a show like this, where it’s the eighth and final season? Were you nervous about walking onto the set, the first day?
GUTOSKIE: I got the chance to meet everybody last year, while working on Containment. Julie keeps a loving family, so I felt really warm and welcomed when I came in. So, I wasn’t too nervous. I was excited to be a part of this beautiful family that has eight years together. Luckily, everybody was really wonderful and welcomed me with open arms.
The Vampire Diaries airs on Friday nights on The CW.