If anyone expected a sophomore slump from “The Vampire Diaries,” they’re eating their words as the CW show nears the end of its second season. Season 2 has more than lived up to the promise of the highly successful first season, and one of the primary reasons for the creative success of year 2 is Candice Accola.
When writers decided that Caroline would turn vampire in this year’s shocking premiere, “The Return,” we weren’t sure what to expect. After all, the last time a series regular “turned,” she was killed off shortly thereafter (rest in peace, Vicki Donovan!).
Executive producer Julie Plec recently tweeted, “Caroline having chemistry with everybody has been the best surprise to us as writers. [It] makes it easy to find story.”
Thus, Caroline has managed to survive her difficult transformation and Accola has easily become one of the surprise breakouts of the show — and one of the fan favorites. We witnessed some of the adoration first-hand while we were visiting “The Vampire Diaries” cast in Atlanta. Accola stopped by a concert at a fan event to support Jessarae (co-star Steven R. McQueen‘s little brother, who totally blew us away) and fans were eager just to catch a glimpse of her.
“It’s not weird,” Accola tells us of her interactions with fans while she’s out and about in Atlanta. She laughs. “Not that it’s ever normal, but I’ve never felt that anyone’s been pushy or anything like that. It might be easier, being a girl, as opposed to the boys — I’m sure they get a lot more attention from the ladies.”
She says that feedback from fans who enjoy the show is always appreciated. “I’d rather have people be excited than get hit in the head with a kumquat,” she jokes. “I can deal with a tomato, but a kumquat, that’s the last straw!”
The show has been on hiatus for about a month, but it returns with a brand-new episode on April 7 at 8 p.m. on The CW. A few weeks later, we’ll see the highly anticipated return of Tyler (Michael Trevino), Mystic Falls’ resident werewolf, who skipped town to try to deal with his new condition away from his vampires.
His exit wasn’t an easy one, though. Tyler’s werewolf friends (though we use the term “friends” lightly) kidnapped Caroline and tortured her in a cage all night. Tyler’s hesitation when it came to letting her out of the cage was the last straw for Caroline — though she’d lied to him, she’d also put her life on the line for him in his time of need, and she expected more in return.
When Tyler returns, will Caroline be able to forgive him? Accola tells us that while Caroline isn’t going to be anyone’s doormat, she’d be hypocritical not to cut Tyler a break.
“What I love about Caroline’s arc this season is that she’s just gained so much perspective, which in turn has made her grow up so much,” Accola says. “Whereas before, throughout Season 1, I feel like Caroline would hold a grudge, [now she knows] she’s not perfect either. On her first night as a vampire she took advantage of a nurse and killed an innocent man. She’s killed and she’s asked to be forgiven, so she has it in her.”
Before that happens, though, we’ve got to explore Tyler’s motivations. He’s not coming back to town because he really misses the fries at The Mystic Grill — he’s got a more important reason for being back.
“That’s going to define and determine what kind of conversations they’re going to start off with,” Accola says. “Obviously things need to be addressed, but it really depends on why he comes back into town.”
When we last saw Caroline, she’d serenaded Matt (Zach Roerig) before coming clean to him about her bloodthirsty condition. Accola tells us not to expect Caroline to jump on stage again anytime soon, though. “Even though it worked out so well and it was so sweet and so fun, I know that the writers have no intentions of making this into a musical show.”
Accola’s first foray into the entertainment industry was a musical one. She toured with Miley Cyrus and released her own record, which you can find on iTunes under her first name, Candice — she was giving the one-name Rihanna/Madonna/Tiffany thing a go. Though music supervisor Chris Mollere confirms that Caroline’s cover of The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” will be on an upcoming “Vampire Diaries” soundtrack, Accola doesn’t have immediate plans to revive her own music career.
“I never want to get to a place again where music isn’t fun, and for a while it wasn’t fun anymore,” she admits. “It felt like a job. What I’ve found interesting about working in this medium of the entertainment industry, as an actor, is that even though it is my job, and I wake up and I get tired, it’s still fun. Even on days that are really long, I go home and I’m like, ‘That was still fun.’ I don’t feel like I’m compromising my artistic self by any means. If it happens, it happens, and it’ll come from that fun organic place.”
That’s not to say that Accola doesn’t have some non-vampire projects in the works. She’s a steadfast supporter of Turn The Corner, a foundation that supports “research, education, awareness and innovative treatments for Lyme disease.” She turns 24 on May 13, and she’s got a special project in the works to use her birthday to support her favorite cause.
“I’ve got some things up my sleeve,” she tells us. “My friend’s got a clothing line, and May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, so we might be releasing a special article of clothing, with all the profit [going] straight to Turn the Corner.”
She’s referring to her friends at Show Me Your MuMu – which we’re already totally in love with. “I love their stuff, and it’s perfect for summer. We’ve found a print and we’re just finalizing the details.”
She’ll also go overseas this summer to meet some fans at conventions with her castmates, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that she’ll be at Comic-Con in San Diego, since her top-secret storyline kept her from appearing at the event last year. “It felt like it was the school trip, and everyone’s going to Williamsburg except for me because my parents wouldn’t sign the release form, and everyone came back with all these fun inside jokes,” she laments.
If she is able to make the event this year, leave your kumquats at home, kids. Tune in tonight (March 31) for a re-run of Caroline’s big singing debut (and one of the best grand romantic gestures ever), and don’t miss the return of new episodes on April 7 at 8 p.m. EST.
In the meantime, stay tuned to Zap2it – we’ve got even more from Candice Accola — plus interviews with the rest of the cast — coming your way as we count down to the next episode.