Ian Somerhalder’s ‘V Wars’ Goes Way Beyond Vampires: EXCLUSIVE

Ian Somerhalder’s charming but villainous Damon Salvatore will go down in history as one of the most beloved vampires on television. After all, Somerhalder played the bad-boy vamp for eight seasons of The CW’s hit series, The Vampire Diaries. However, once TVD ended in 2017, the Lost actor was adamant that the next project he sunk his teeth into needed to be extra special.

Somerhalder found that project with Netflix’s V Wars. Based on Jonathan Maberry and Alan Robinson’s comics of the same name — the TVD alum stars in and executive produces the series. It follows a post-apocalyptic-type event and virus that has turned 25-percent of humanity into vampire-like bloodthirsty predators.

V Wars centers Dr. Luther Swann (Somerhalder) — a scientist working tirelessly to find a cure. The show also follows Luther’s best friend — Michael Fayne (Adrian Holmes), who gets infected with the virus. Ahead of V Wars’ debut on Netflix — Showbiz Cheat Sheet chatted with Somerhalder about the show, its compelling subject manner, and leaving Damon in the past. 

Ian Somerhalder was drawn to ‘V Wars’ because it speaks to our current climate

“This is the first role that I am producing from the ground up,” Somerhalder reflected. “There were thousands of components that needed to be put together. This is such a cool and diverse story, and I’m all about community and building conversations because people don’t talk anymore. I knew that Jonathan Maberry’s story would spark all of that. Not only is he a prolific writer, but he tells stories with perspective. In the show, we have a young Mexican girl who is alone and pregnant on the border. You’ve got these vigilante Hell’s Angel bikers who are standing up for humanity and saying, ‘We’ve got to kill all of these infected people.’ One of the things that really drove me to do this show its emphasis on climate change and social issues.”

The virus that spreads in V Wars comes as a result of massive climate change — an issue that is near and dear to Somerhalder’s heart. “Luther Swann is the guy who has been studying this rapid climate change his entire life,” Somerhalder explained, “We’re dealing with these big tentpole issues — borders, racism, diseases, fear, the politics of fear, government…So there is something very cool about being able to tell a socially relevant story as it’s happening in the real world.”

‘V Wars’ isn’t your typical vampire show

We’re used to seeing TVD‘s sultry version of vampires. However, Somerhalder revealed that V Wars is about to bring something much more terrifying to our television screens. “This disease that spreads on the show has a one in four infection rate,” he explained. “There are over seven billion of us on the planet, so that’s a shit ton of people. What happens when millions of people turn into murderous beasts, and they’re out destroying society, or they’re already dead? What happens when society begins to collapse under the weight of that? V Wars is about rebuilding a society and how do that with fairness, diversity, and social standards.”

Since V Wars has such an important message — Somerhalder was adamant about bringing it to a wide-reaching platform. “Netflix is global,” he explained. “We get to bring in characters from every walk of life. We get to crossreference cultures. That’s what gets me so excited about the show. Season 1 is just setting this up world. I’ve only previously worked on the network side of things. With Netflix, you don’t have to find fluidity and through-line; it all gets delivered at once. Netflix allowed us to go through every fame to make sure it was as good as we could get it.”

Dr. Luther Swann is a major departure from Damon Salvatore

Swann is also unlike any character Somerhalder has played before in his career. “In all humility, Damon Salvatore was one of the best-written characters on television,” he explained. “But after playing that character for eight years, I so wanted to play a character that was just a good man. Swann is a superhero because his superpower is just being a good dad, a great scientist, and a devoted husband. I just wanted to play that guy. But, what we found was that people don’t want an ordinary hero — they want an extraordinary hero. So Swann goes through a major metamorphosis, and he’s forced to change. You definitely want to see what happens next.”

 V Wars premieres Thursday, Dec. 5 on Netflix.