'The Vampire Diaries': Meet Dr. Meredith Fell! Torrey DeVitto brings a book character off the page

tvd-torrey-mer-fell-alaric.jpgTonight's (Jan. 5) episode of "The Vampire Diaries" introduced a new character to the series: Dr. Fell ( Torrey DeVitto). Her appearance was brief, but readers of L.J. Smith's "Vampire Diaries" novels got a big surprise when she coyly told Alaric ( Matt Davis), "The patients who follow my advice get to call me Meredith."

"It's something we've wanted to do for a while, for the book fans, to bring Meredith into this world," executive producer Julie Plec tells Zap2it. Of course, Meredith a key character in the novels , and some fans were dismayed when the TV series premiered to see that the character had been cut.

Plec and Kevin Williamson kept the idea of the character in mind. "The book fans have, for two and a half years, been screaming at the top of their lungs, 'Where's Meredith? Where's Meredith?'" Plec says. "Meredith was in our original pilot draft, but you have to do some editing and some streamlining when you take a project from book to TV, and Meredith was one of the victims of that streamlining."

Certainly, the Meredith who is introduced in the show is very different from the Meredith we know from the books. Some differences are obvious -- her name has been changed from Sulez to Fell, for one, but fans of Bonnie McCullough and Matt Honeycutt know that's sometimes a necessary evil. She's also a doctor, not a high school student. Despite the discrepancies, Plec assures us that book Meredith and show Meredith will share some key qualities. They share much more than a first name.

"In the books, Meredith is Elena's best friend from the beginning, and she has a very interesting, intriguing relationship with Alaric," Plec says. In fact, Meredith and Alaric do have a romantic relationship in the books. "It's fun to be able to take that character and expand her into a new possible love interest for Alaric, who of course has had his hard knocks. He deserves a little love in his life again."

paul-wesley-torrey-devitto.jpgBook Meredith is unique in that she's one character who is completely unaffected by Damon's charms -- in fact, she makes him a little bit nervous. Most of Meredith's scenes are with Alaric and Damon, so viewers can look forward to seeing just how Damon reacts to a little romance getting in the way of his bromance. "She's a Fell, so she's got a point of view about how to handle the vampire business in this town," Plec teases. We're sure Damon will be thrilled.

DeVitto herself has long been part of the "Vampire Diaries" family behind the scenes, as she's married to series star Paul Wesley. Plec tells us that Meredith won't be sharing scenes with Stefan right away, but Wesley is beyond thrilled just to have her around set in an official capacity.

"It makes Paul Wesley so happy," Plec laughs -- but she makes it very clear that casting DeVitto was by no means a favor to Wesley. "There is no nepotism here. In fact, he was so grateful that we wanted to give her the part, so he called to thank us. We were like 'Dude, we are not doing this for you. She's really good. We're doing this because Kevin and I love Torrey.' We didn't want him to think we were just trying to make our lead actor happy. Torrey read for Courtney Ford's role back in Season 3, so we've had our eye on her for a very long time. We're very excited to have her."
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