‘Vampire Diaries’: Nina Dobrev’s Audition Was So Bad Producers Forgot Her

The CW network has produced a number of cult classic television shows, many of which have an other-worldly twist. One of these beloved programs is The Vampire Diarieswhich ran on the channel from 2009 to 2017. The mix of teenage drama and the mystery of the supernatural helped to make the show a massive success. Another reason for the show’s success is due to the strong performance of actor Nina Dobrev, who played multiple characters in the show’s eight season-long run. Dobrev’s impressive work on the show made the actress a fan favorite, but her first audition was so bad that producers completely forgot about her. Dobrev was obviously granted a second chance, which was much more memorable, and resulted in Dobrev receiving the coveted role.

Nina Dobrev smiling
Nina Dobrev | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Who is Nina Dobrev and who did she play on ‘The Vampire Diaries?’ 

Born Nikolina Kamenova Dobreva in Sofia, Bulgaria, the actor’s family moved to Canada when she was a young child. Dobrev got her start in the world of entertainment in another teenage classic show, Degrassi: The Next Generation, in which she played Mia Jones. Dobrev’s main character on The Vampire Diaries is Elena Gilbert, a normal American girl living in Mystic Falls, Virginia where everything is less than normal. Elena loses both of her parents in a tragic car accident and is eventually drawn into the strange and mystic world that lurks in the shadows of her town. In the show, the talented Dobrev plays more characters than just Elena including Katherine Pierce and others. Besides her work on the supernatural teen drama, Dobrev is known for her roles in such films as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Let’s Be Cops, and XXX: Return of Xander Cage.  

What is ‘The Vampire Diaries’ about? 

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The Vampire Diaries is centered on the fierce love triangle between Elena and the brothers Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), with the added twist that the siblings are also vampires. Initially, Damon’s goal is to use Elena to bring his former love, Katherine, back to life, but he eventually falls for Elena. The brothers’ love for Elena creates a dramatic love triangle, and Elena dates both brothers off and on during the show. Besides vampires, the show features characters that are witches, werewolves, and vampire hunters. The Vampire Diaries also features segments focused on the mythology and history of the town, as well as the Salvatore brother’s history. The show is based on a series of novels of the same name by L.J. Smith, and the popular program was spun-off into a continuation series titled The Originals, which Dobrev appeared in as Tatia instead of her more well-known Elena. The show also has a spinoff, The Legacies, which will be returning for a third season from the CW.

Dobrev’s forgettable audition

Although Dobrev’s portrayal of Elena and other doppelgänger characters became a vital part of The Vampire Diaries, the actor’s audition went so poorly that the show’s producers initially forgot all about her. In a farewell interview for the show with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Julie Plec said about the actress’ audition, “The funniest story about the first impression of Nina is that she didn’t make an impression. None of us remembered seeing her for the first time.” The Bulgarian-Canadian actress eventually told the producers “Hey, listen—I was sick that day, I didn’t do my best work, I really really want this part,” which Dobrev received. Plec also said that “[Dobrev] put herself on tape, which then got sent to us and it was so magical and so perfect that she basically had the job from that minute forward.” Dobrev achieved great acclaim for her roles in The Vampire Diaries, proving that Plec and the show’s producers made a wise decision in granting her a second opportunity to audition for the role.