‘Vampire Diaries’ Q&A: Michael Malarkey On Enzo’s Pain

Michael Malarkey’s Enzo has been through a lot on The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries.”

He found out that the woman he had been pining for, for decades – Maggie – was actually killed (in 1960) by his only friend, Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder). Rather than deal with the pain of those revelations, Enzo took a page out of Damon’s book and shut off his humanity. And later, after an epic battle with Stefan (Paul Wesley), Enzo tried – with his last act in the world of the living – to cause a rift between the Salvatore brothers, by leaving Stefan holding his heart (quite literally).

The trouble with the Other Side, however, created a loophole that allowed Enzo to stick around in Mystic Falls as a ghost, and avenge Maggie’s death, by targeting the Salvatores.

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Chatting with AccessHollywood.com on the phone on Wednesday from a sunny London, Michael Malarkey addressed how Enzo is feeling on the Other Side, as we head into Thursday’s “The Vampire Diaries.” He also hinted at what “ghost Enzo” might be able to do, and dished on what it has been like working with Ian and Paul.

AccessHollywood.com: Where are you in the world?
Michael Malarkey:
I’m in London town, which is actually brimming with sunshine at the moment so everyone’s happy.

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Access: So everyone’s taking their shirt off, which is what everyone in England seems to do when the littlest bit of sunshine comes out.
Oh, it’s a nudist colony.

Access: What was it like when Paul Wesley directed you [in a recent ‘TVD’ episode]? That must have been interesting to have this guy that you’d been working with for a while, step behind the camera and give you instructions on what to do.
Paul, he’s a downright natural with it. I actually got a lot of joy seeing him step into those shoes and just figuring it all out as he went along. He has the right positive mental attitude about it and [he’s] creative as well, so that was cool. It’s really lovely to work with directors who are also actors because they have that understanding of that hell we put ourselves through and have a good way of dealing with us to get results.

Access: You mentioned the hell you put yourselves through as actors, and you and Ian have certainly had to do a lot of that season. How have you stepped away from some of the more intense stuff, especially thinking back to the scene where he let your character burn? Are you able to turn it off quite quickly and go get a cup of tea with each other?
Yes, I don’t come from the school of method acting, as it were, so I really firmly believe in everything I’m doing at any given time, as if I am that character. So for me, sometimes you just have to shake it out a bit if it’s been quite emotional, but I don’t carry around Enzo’s baggage. I mean, it’d be quite heavy.

Access: Right. I was thinking, when you do an intense scene, sometimes you would have to shake it off.
Yeah. You know, Ian’s fantastic to work with. We have a great rapport and we get on really well and we run the scene loads beforehand and we get to a comfortable place where we’re kind of gelling and so afterwards, when we’ve had a take that is high intensity or emotional, we normally just go, ‘Dude! Nice one man, I liked that.’ We kind of give each other a pat on the back or whatever.

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Access: That was very ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High,’ Michael.
(Laughs) It’s kind of like that on set.

Access: I love it. So… last week’s episode your character flipped the switch. Why do you think he couldn’t handle any more betrayals or pain, or reveals? He’d really reached his limit.
It’s pretty complicated. This character has been imprisoned and tortured for the better part of 70 years and he had certain things that he fixated upon while he was in there and one of them was Damon and his friendship with him and that betrayal he felt, and then finding that friendship again, working through it only to have it taken from him with another betrayal, was part of what was too much to bear, but also that sense of hope that he had about Maggie, which was somebody who he loved, or at least convinced himself that he loved. She was another fixation that he focused upon, and I think when people spend their time in isolation like that, not that I know too much, but they tend to fixate and obsess about certain things and so these obsessions all came to a head in last week’s episode and completely fell apart and so his entire world and what he viewed as what he had, his own sense of self, seemed to be falling away and it just became too much for him to deal with, if that makes sense.

Access: It does. You said that very beautifully. What state do you think he is in on the other side? Rage? Anger? Grief? He’s buzzing on the other side, but what emotion is he full of?
I think he’s trying to figure it out himself. I think he’s at this place where he’s like, ‘How do I feel with all this? How am I going to engage with all these people? What can I do?’ And some more stuff will kind of come to light in the next episode, where you’ll kind of get to see some of that.

Access: Executive Producer Caroline Dries was saying the rift on the Other Side will give Enzo liberties as a ghost that maybe other people haven’t had before. What sort of things are you going to be able to do?
(Laughs) If only I could tell you. It would ruin the surprises in the episode. But he kind of makes [a] ghostly presence and uses forms of violence and fire to make a few points and that’s all I’ll hint at.

Access: Stefan didn’t tell Damon that your character’s dead. Is that something that’s going to affect Enzo? Is that another stick to poke at him?
Yeah, well, I think naturally, the entire reason why he offed himself as it were, was in order to stick that rift in between them and the fact that Stefan isn’t going to tell Damon, then, obviously that’s going to piss him off (laughs), because that was his big plan and if that doesn’t happen then he’s going to be pissed off.

Access: Is there any chance for Enzo to find some sort of redemption here?
I think there’s a chance for every bad boy to find some form of redemption, and it may be a bit of a longer road than some others may have, but I think there is something there. I think what we’ve touched upon in sort of the past few episodes is Enzo’s humanity. And we know it’s there, despite the fact that he’s just switched it off, we know that there is decent thing there is – we would say human, but he’s a vampire – but there is a decent thing there, gem, moral code or whatever. So, yeah, we’ll see where it goes as we go along.

“The Vampire Diaries” airs Thursday at 8/7c on The CW.

-- Jolie Lash

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