It’s been 12 years since "The Vampire Diaries" premiered and became known as “Twilight" for television.
Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley played the seductive Salvatore brothers for eight seasons before saying goodbye in 2017. The duo opened up to TODAY about their favorite memories from filming and gave a look at their newest passion project: a bourbon brand, appropriately named Brother’s Bond.
“It was a decade in the making” said Somerhalder, who stressed that the actors were involved in every step of the bourbon-making process.
“This isn't just an endorsement, you know? This is something that we really put our hearts and our souls into,” said Wesley.
Before their new venture was the show that captured a love triangle between two vampire brothers and a high school girl named Elena Gilbert, played by Nina Dobrev. Fans watched in anticipation as Elena fell in love with both brothers and eventually transformed into a vampire in season four.
“I do think, like, that journey, that metamorphosis was so fascinating to people,” Wesley said of Elena’s character arc, but insisted there was another key relationship on the show aside from the romantic ones. “I think the relationship between the brothers was the most important one.”
Wesley played many forms of his character, Stefan, over the years as he teetered back and forth between “the good guy” and a dangerous, blood-thirsty version of himself called “the ripper.” “I was always the good guy. And so I was a little bit envious, frankly. So when my character took a turn and became the bad guy, the ripper, that for me was you know, I was super excited to do something different.”
Ian reflected on his role as Damon Salvatore as being “the job of a lifetime” and recalled the moment he knew the show was a hit. “We were trying to leave the hotel. And there was, like, 1,000 people on either side of this little hotel where we used to stay at all the time. And we had to go through secret entrances and we had multiple cars. Two dummy cars, one we were in, one we weren't. One for full security and the guy at the time who's the head of Warner Brothers International just said, 'The only time I've seen this, like, this was the launch of 'Beverly Hills, 90210,' believe it or not.”
Ian and Paul agree their most memorable scene to film was the last one of the series when the brothers meet again in the afterlife. “That to me was a really powerful moment, because it was the last thing we ever shot” said Wesley.
Somerhalder said he and Wesley formed an immediate bond. “We spent a lot of beautiful, perfect summer Georgia evenings. You know, just sort of, like, sitting there together just running lines. I remember we moved in next to each other in season one. We had apartments next to each other.”
Creating their own bourbon was an idea birthed out of those Georgia nights, when Ian and Paul say they spent a lot of time drinking bourbon both on and off camera.
“The amount of times and the amount of screen grabs I have of Stefan and Damon bonding over a bourbon…and, you know, it's so cool to be able to, like, re-create that in a sense, you know? This is our reunion,” said Wesley.
The actors say the intent behind the bourbon is to build communities and give back. A portion of Brother’s Bond bourbon sales will go towards regenerative farming practices, a cause both Ian and Paul are passionate about. Brothers Bond bourbon is available in stores and online May 1.
"The Vampire Diaries" is streaming on Netflix.