'The Vampire Diaries': Candice Accola talks Caroline and Tyler, biting strangers, and Katherine

tvd-candice-accola.jpgFemale vampires don't exactly have a good track record for survival on "The Vampire Diaries," so when Candice Accola found out that her character would be vamping out in Season 2, she was uneasy.

"Reaction number one was super excited, but reaction number two was super terrified," Accola tells Zap2it. "It was luckily followed up with a wonderful phone call from [executive producer] Kevin Williamson saying not to be worried, at least for right now."

My heart broke last week when Caroline had to end her relationship with Matt ( Zach Roerig) for his safety, since as a new vampire, she still can't control her bloodlust. "Last season, Caroline would've said 'I want to be with him anyway and I know that I'm going through my own stuff, but i don't care, if I'm going down then I want to bring him down with me,'" Accola says. Along with the fangs comes a "new, evolved version of Caroline."

"It's a big step for her," Accola says. "She'd rather break her own heart than break his heart and hurt him. It's big for her as a character and as a young girl becoming a young woman, supernatural qualities or not."

Is there any chance of a reconciliation? "Their paths will definitely cross. We'll see what happens," she teases.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other boys in town. I had to ask about the possibility of Caroline and soon-to-be-werewolf Tyler ( Michael Trevino) hooking up.

"There's obviously been such an incredible tease of Tyler's pending transformation. He's becoming a werewolf, which happens to coincide with Caroline's transformation into a vampire," she says. "It opens up a very beautiful opportunity for them to have some kind of a relationship, be it a friendship or something more, just to have someone going through the same thing."

Tyler's already made out with Matt's mom, after all. What's a little ex-girlfriend action after that?

More than any new boy drama, though, Accola is most looking forward to the show's exploration of a few other areas of Caroline's life. "We're really going to get into Caroline's relationship with herself and her relationship with her mother," she says. "That'll take precedence before new boys. All of Season 1, the biggest thing consuming Caroline's life was whether she had a boy to love her, and whether her friends love her. In her breakup with Matt she realizes that she has to love herself."

One of the most intriguing things about Caroline's transformation story is the fact that her mother is the town Sheriff, and an active member of the Council -- a group of vampire hunters from the towns' founding families. When Sheriff Liz Forbes finds out that her daughter is one of the creatures she's after, her world will be rocked significantly.

"It's actually a very, very human story," Accola says. "Look at it this way -- there's a point in your life where there's something about you that your parents don't agree with. Not that this was Caroline's choice or her own doing, but now she has a lifestyle her parents don't agree with. Is there still going to be that unconditional love that a mother's supposed to have for her child? Is that going to still exist? It's not just a vampire story. It's a growing-up story."

Though she's making some progress toward putting herself first, Caroline's heightened insecurities make her even more vulnerable to Mystic Falls' newest (and oldest) villain, Katherine Pierce ( Nina Dobrev).

"It'll be interesting to see if she does crumble under Katherine's fist or if she, now that she's a vampire and is starting to make decisions for herself, if she's going to stand up to her," Accola says.

Last week's episode ended with a cliffhanger that implied that Caroline may be swayed into joining Team Katherine. But could Mystic Falls' resident control-freak cheerleader really turn evil?

"Caroline is in a very precarious situation," says Accola's co-star, Ian Somerhalder. "She's just holding on for dear life. I've been playing this vampire for 18 months, so watching Candice as Caroline is really fascinating for me. Katherine came in as a deviant powerhouse, but while Caroline has some insecurity issues, deep down, she's a good person. She's a sweet, innocent girl. Deep down, Katherine and Damon, by default, are not very good people. Whatever has happened to Damon and Katherine in their lives and whatever choices they've made, it doesn't make them very good individuals."

Somerhalder's character, Damon, spent a considerable part of Season 1 sinking his teeth into Caroline. Now that the tables are turned and she's the one doing the biting, Accola says she takes extra care.

"I'm so my mother's child when it comes to the biting and the stuntwork," she laughs. "I'm safety-obsessed. With last week's episode, when I bit Carter, I'd just met him about an hour before in the makeup trailer. It's such a bizarre conversation to have with someone. 'So, you can feel the tips of the fangs. I'll keep my mouth shut when I come up to your neck, it'll just be like a kiss, just my lips, and I'll try not to puncture you. It's nice to meet you!'"

Accola is loving Caroline's new attitude -- and she particularly enjoyed the scene where she finally told Damon off for manipulating her, abusing her, and feeding on her last year.

"Hell yeah!" she says. "That was epic. Finally she put him in his place. I'm always a fan of women who kick ass on screen so when I read the scripts and Caroline gets to be stronger now, it's just been really really fun. I've been feeling very powerful."

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Photo: The CW