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The Vampire Diaries was based on the series of books by L.J. Smith. Like any adaptation, creators Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec made some changes to make it work for television. One of those changes was in the lead character, Elena, played by Nina Dobrev. 

'Vampire Diaries' star Nina Dobrev puts her hands on her hips
Nina Dobrev | Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage The CW Network/Getty Images

Dobrev was on a Television Critics Association panel with Williamson and Plec in 2009. She addressed how the series adapted Elena from the books and the producers added their take on other adaptations. The Vampire Diaries is now streaming on Peacock or HBO Max.

Nina Dobrev related to Elena on ‘The Vampire Diaries’

In the town of Mystic Falls, Elena meets two vampire brothers. Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) both become love interests, although rumors abound that Dobrev and Wesley did not get along behind the scenes. They’ve put those rumors to rest, but Dobrev said her Elena was not entirely like Smith’s.

“I think that Elena has a lot of myself,” Dobrev said. “I feel like I’m a lot like my character in that sense. But she has to be innocent. I know that’s one thing that’s different in the books. In the book she’s a very different character, but we really wanted somebody that had a vulnerability and had a relatability and looks for the good in everyone.”

Elena was fraught at the beginning of ‘The Vampire Diaries’

Considering all that happened to Elena over her six seasons on The Vampire Diaries, it’s important to remember where she began. Elena came pretty far by her final cameo in season 8.

“She is in a tough place,” Dobrev said. “She lost her parents. Her brother is going on a downward spiral. She’s still trying to find the good in everyone and fix things and be optimistic. And she’s trying to cope. So, the fact that I’m Canadian, I don’t know, maybe that had something to do with it.”

Kevin Williamson brought Damon in earlier

Smith introduced Damon in the second book. Williamson wanted Damon in the whole show. 

“He is in every single episode,” Williamson said. “For instance, in the book, he doesn’t even show up in the first book. And so in the pilot he shows up later in the pilot for the big reveal. Once he is there, he is there. He has no intention of leaving Mystic Falls.  He’s has an agenda and it’s huge and big and it goes actually beyond Elena and it is a lot of fun. So he is the devil. He comes into town and he just makes everyone’s life hell.”

Williamson did want to retain the diary format of The Vampire Diaries. That’s why Elena narrates the episodes. 

“It is really a nice way to sort of open up a story, begin a story and close a story,” Williamson said. “It is a really great bookend. We are going to use it. We will do the dueling dairies, we will do the separate ones. We’ll try to be careful with it and not  overdo it.”