'The Vampire Diaries' Taylor Kinney: Mason's possible return, plus tattoo talk and trust issues
We chatted about everything from Mason's trust issues with Katherine to Kinney's tattoos... and he filled me in on one of his favorite childhood games. Let's just say that Kinney has always had the wild imagination that makes him so fun to watch on screen.
Zap2it: Even though Mason was on Katherine's (Nina Dobrev) side, he maintained a bit of sympathy right down to the bitter end. Would you classify him as a good guy or a bad guy?
Taylor Kinney: Especially on this show, the lines are so blurry. There's no definitive line between who's good and who's bad; everyone's capable of some pretty wild stuff, across the board. Every character is in the gray. You look at Jeremy last season, his desire to become a vampire, I mean, there was some shady stuff there. And then Damon is this evil character, this antagonist, but deep down, he doesn't think he's a bad guy. He does things to benefit himself, to benefit his brother, and to survive. He justifies things that way.
It's the same thing with Mason. He loved Katherine. He still had walls up, he didn't trust her. He threw the moonstone down that well full of vervain, so there were walls up, and then he was doing shady stuff on the side. At the end of the day, he wasn't being bad, but I don't think he was a good guy, either.
It was obvious that he really loved Katherine, but how much do you think he really knew about her past and her capabilities?
I don't think it really matters! It's a "love is blind" thing. Whenever you fall in love with somebody, and you have that connection, everything goes out the window. You forgive them all their faults. That's what it is. To take it a step further would be to open up and let her in completely, which he hasn't done. That's the only thing that gets in the way, the trust issue. It doesn't stop him from loving her, but he got burned by it. He dropped his guard for a minute, threw all his chips down, and then he had to eat it. He had to pay the piper.
I know that you originally signed on for six episodes, so you knew how long Mason would be around. Were you bummed to find out that he dies, because it makes a return unlikely, or were you glad that you got to do the big death scene?
The way they create and the way they write is so new, and so fresh. They have an outline for the season, where they want to take it, but they also leave in the opportunity to see what happens with the characters, see what storylines are working, and to look at the chemistry. They're not necessarily married to one idea.
Are you saying that you could be back?
Yes, yeah. You never know. Stranger things have happened. It's a supernatural show, and you still don't know the full weight and the power of this moonstone. The experience was so positive. It wasn't like hearing the news of the death scene upset me. Just to be a part of it was humbling and was a great experience. If they find a way to bring back the character and have him plot his revenge, then great. If not... great.
I saw Ian Somerhalder this weekend and he said you guys are actually good friends off-screen. Was it fun shooting those torture scenes together?
I have a man crush on Ian.
I don't think you're alone in that.
We got to be pretty good buddies. We got to work with each other enough to where we learned each other's ticks. As actors it's always nice to meet somebody that you have that rapport with. You're one step ahead of the other person. He's a competitive guy, I'm a competitive guy. If you throw something in the air, we're both going to try and shoot it. It's just that whole game. I have a great time working with Ian, always.
You had some really challenging scenes on this show, with the transformation and the torture scenes, that you probably wouldn't ever have on a show about supernatural characters. Was that challenging?
That was what made it so much fun, actually. It's what makes it loose. In previous roles, they've been dramatic roles. You get in there and the actory sh** starts to come out, and with this, it's a bit more simple. It's entertainment, and you're playing a supernatural character, so you can just let it rip. You can't really get it wrong, you know? You throw any idea against the wall, and if it sticks, cool, but if not -- whatever. It's a dream job.
Being on "The Vampire Diaries" feels almost like a game you play when you're a kid. When I was a kid, I used to have to take the garbage out at night on Wednesdays. I lived out in the country. I'd take the garbage out, and I used to pretend that I was the only person in the whole world, except for one other person, and he was looking for me. So I'd take the trash can out, and headlights would come down the road, and I'd be like, "Oh, sh**! How did this person find me in the whole world? What am I going to do?" So I'd run and hide under a car or a truck or a board.
You're laughing, but really! For like ten minutes, I'd do this. Am I nuts? That's what you do now, as an actor, as an adult, playing a supernatural character. Anything goes, you just let your imagination go crazy.
Man, I forgot I used to do that. That used to take up a lot of my time.
You've done so many interviews recently. Was it hard to keep the secret, that you were leaving?
No, I got pretty good at it. The only time I let anything slip was because I did have to come back to L.A. afterward, and I was speaking in past tense because I was back here. "Atlanta was great, working there was fun." I forgot that everyone still thought I was in Mystic Falls. I've been seen in California! I need to go down into a bomb shelter for a month.
When I asked fans on Twitter if they have any questions for you, a ton of people asked about your tattoos. Are they real, or are they Mason's?
No, they're real. I have three. The whole back thing is one piece, one session. I'm not going to divulge that story! I think I was nineteen or twenty. And then I have two really stupid tattoos. One I got because I lost a bet, and the other was an even more stupid story.
More stupid than losing a bet?
Yeah, trust me, I'm keeping those cards close to the vest! I don't mind it so much because it's on my back. It's not something I have to look at every day.
So what's on deck for you now that Mason is gone, at least for the time being?
Just reading scripts! The experience has been great. From "Vampire Diaries" alone the exposure has been phenomenal, with the fans and the industry, so I'm a pretty busy guy right now, which is what you want in any line of work -- or play, as may be the case for me. We'll see what happens. I'm so thankful for the fans, for the support. The show's just going to get better and better. They have a ton more surprises in store.
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Photo Credit: The CW