When we were last on “The Vampire Diaries” set, we spoke with Sara Canning about Jenna’s arc for the end of the season and her summer plans. Little did we know, she’d just learned that her character wouldn’t actually make it to the finale.
Last night, fans watched teary-eyed as Jenna turned into a vampire and, after making one last valiant effort to save Elena’s life, was killed at Klaus’s hand. We absolutely lost our cool during the funeral that the Mystic Falls gang held for Jenna and Elena’s biological father, John.
After filming her final episode, Canning packed her car and drove from Atlanta to Vancouver. She’s already got more work lined up, and she’s working on several writing projects, including a weekly blog for Alloy. Still, when the episode aired last night, all of the emotions came back to Canning. We caught up with her on the morning after, and while she’s still raw from the goodbyes, Canning is already looking forward to future projects.
Zap2it: We’re all so sad! I’m sure you’ve seen the incredible reaction from fans on Twitter. Jenna was a trending topic.
Canning: I was so floored by it last night. I honestly wasn’t expecting as large of a response. I guess, realistically, when a regular character dies, there’s going to be a big reaction, but I hadn’t expected much of a response. I’m in Canada now, so it feels like I’ve taken a step back a little bit. But now that it’s aired and people have seen it, it brings you right back to the “Vampire Diaries” family. It was so unexpected. I’ve just been sitting here with a dumb smile on my face. I have such a large piece of my heart filled with these fan messages. It’s amazing.
You don’t find out that your character is about to die by reading a script, right? Did you have a meeting with the producers?
I found out before getting the script. It was a difficult conversation. Julie [Plec] was very kind and let me know that the character meant a lot to them, and she kind of went from there. It wasn’t really drawn out, she was just very honest with me, and that was sort of that. I think that’s how things happen with “The Vampire Diaries” because things change so quickly and there are all kinds of plot twists. We were all aware at the start that there were no guarantees.
As far as final episodes go, this was a pretty great one. You got to do so much in those 42 minutes of airtime. Were you glad to get the chance to do all the fun vampire biting stuff before you went out?
Yeah, absolutely. It was a fun last episode in a dark way, because it’s fun to do all of that, but it was a challenge for me. I was really trying to wrap up Jenna’s philosophy and Jenna’s character, and her whole bearing and point in the story. I really wanted to give that the best sort of ending that I could. We shot the moments between her and Elena that were referenced in the pilot. This is the first time we really se a conversation take place with them that we haven’t seen before.
When you’re turning into a vampire, all that stuff is intensified, and then there’s the physical part of it, too. Being in transition, to feeding, to going through what being a vampire feels like, to having these moments with Elena, to watching a woman’s heart get ripped out right in front of her, to deciding what her final act will be. Rather than to run away, it’s to make that realization that if she can only take out Greta, the sacrifice can’t happen, and Elena won’t turn. Jenna’s brain and heart and other organs are all racing at an unimaginable speed. I really wanted to piece it together for it to all make sense as a cohesive story.
I’m sure it was rough leaving Atlanta when this season ended.
Yeah. I have to go back, actually. i lived there for 2 years, and I just drove my car across the country to find an apartment in Vancouver so I need to go back and figure out everything else. I think the world of the producers and the writers and the cast and crew. It was a hard thing to do, but I look forward to whatever the next thing is.
Do you think we’ll see Jenna again in flashbacks or dream sequences or anything?
I know it’s always a possibility with this show; I mean, we’ve seen it happen before. It hasn’t been discussed all yet. At this point though, I really don’t know. I think I have to operate now from the place that we’ve seen Jenna’s funeral, and we’ve said goodbye.
So you’re all settled in Vancouver now? Not doing the Hollywood thing?
No. I hope to go to LA at some point, but this is my home. I’ve been auditioning and taping. Home for me is just kind of wherever I end up, and Vancouver is my real stomping ground. I’m working on a couple of different things – I’m doing a short film at the end of the month that I’m really exciting about because it’s a stylistic film noir kind of thing and I love that genre.
“The Vampire Diaries” finale airs on Thursday, May 12 at 8 p.m. on The CW. Make sure to bookmark Canning’s blog at Alloy to keep up with her over the summer!