Torrey DeVitto joins 'The Vampire Diaries': 'For the sake of Alaric, I hope this lasts!'

tvd-torrey-mer-fell-alaric.jpg Torrey DeVitto isn't exactly a new face on television -- she's a recurring guest star on "Pretty Little Liars," and she had a major role on the short-lived "Beautiful People." In fact, she's already such a part of the current zeitgeist that after her first brief appearance on "The Vampire Diaries" last week, "Nanny Carrie" -- her psychotic "One Tree Hill" character -- was a trending topic on Twitter.

Despite already having plenty of TV experience under her belt, the "Vampire Diaries" role gave DeVitto considerable pause. "To be honest with you, I did have a huge bout of anxiety when I found out," she admits to Zap2it, calling us from Atlanta, where she's still shooting the show. "They called me and they were like 'You booked this part!' and instead of being excited I was like, 'I think I'm going to throw up.'"

As many know, DeVitto's real-life husband is Paul Wesley, AKA Stefan Salvatore. DeVitto has long been a part of "The Vampire Diaries" off-screen family, which raised the stakes for her when it came to accepting the role of Meredith Fell. "I've always been this way, that when I know someone so personally, or in this case, a group of people so personally, I always like to detach my work from personal stuff," she says. "To go into a show that's been going on for three seasons now, where they've already got their groove, and to know everybody so well and then to come in, I was like 'Oh, man, I'm going to be judged so hard; I'm so nervous. What if I suck? What if they think I suck?' And I was just like 'Stop. You got hired for a reason.'"

(The reason, executive producer Julie Plec tells us, has absolutely nothing to do with Wesley, and everything to do with her acting chops.)

In the end, DeVitto's concern was unfounded. "Honestly it was absolutely the opposite of what I thought it was going to be. I felt so comfortable, and it was a really smooth transition," she tells us, adding, "Thank God!" with a laugh.

Of course, for longtime fans of LJ Smith's "Vampire Diaries" novels, the books from which the show was adapted, DeVitto's character -- a doctor who has a history in Mystic Falls, given the fact that she's a member of a founding family -- holds special significance. Meredith was an important character in the novels, though she has undergone some major revisions from page to screen.

Good news, Meredith fans -- your favorite is in good hands, as DeVitto is, herself, a fan of the novels. "Well, when the pilot came around, I picked up the series and actually read the entire series without stopping," she tells us. "I had just finished the 'Twilight' books and was so smitten with Edward, so I saw that this was vampires and I was like, 'Great! I'll read all of them!'"

That said, of course, she's intentionally creating some distance between the book character and the TV writers' reinterpretation. "I remember Meredith, but I don't remember her completely and perfectly," she says. "She's very different on the show, so I didn't really go back into the books and re-read, because I didn't want to get too many conflicting ideas. I thought that was so cool to come on and not only be a part of the show, but also, I'm honored to be a part of something that the book's fans are going to recognize and hopefully appreciate."

torrey-devitto-oth-large.jpgOne of our favorite things about "The Vampire Diaries" is that even the recurring characters feel dimensional and nuanced, and Meredith will be no exception. We're glad to say that her arc on the show won't be particularly brief, especially in comparison to the typical guest star lifespan. "People have been saying, 'I can't believe you've been around so long!' and it hasn't felt very long to me, but I guess in this world of vampires and werewolves, everyone gets killed off. I'm just thankful that it's lasted this long already, I've been having such a good time," DeVitto says.

We're hoping she sticks around a while -- not just because she's compelling on screen, but because it's about time that Alaric have a love interest that doesn't vamp out and die on him.  DeVitto says, "I have obviously seen a lot of 'Vampire Diaries' episodes, but I wasn't a hundred percent up to speed on Alaric's past romances, so when I dug into that, I realized that it's pretty tragic. I always say that for the sake of Alaric, I hope this lasts, because the poor guy really needs a break."

We'll see the potential new couple take their chemistry out of the emergency room in Thursday's episode, "Our Town." We've got a feeling that Dr. Fell has some suspicions about our favorite boozy history teacher.

"She's obviously first intrigued when they meet, as to how quickly he recovered from such a near-death experience," DeVitto says. "When they first saw each other there was definitely an attraction, but when you're in a hospital it's hard to act on that. So when they meet outside the hospital, their attraction goes to the next step."

As for those inevitable romantic scenes with her husband's co-worker, Matt Davis, DeVitto says it wasn't as uncomfortable as those of us who aren't actors might imagine."It wasn't awkward! He's so nice and he's really just such a great, professional actor, that I felt really comfortable right away. Obviously, it's part of the job. You get used to it."

Fans of the books will remember that Meredith and Damon had a particularly contentious relationship, a thread that may carry over into the show. As a member of a founding family, Meredith brings yet another perspective on Mystic Falls' vampire problem -- which Damon doesn't necessarily take to easily.

"Damon kind of fancies himself as, I guess, the town mayor when it comes to the vampires -- he feels like he's the boss and he's sort of running the show, DeVitto says. "When Meredith comes in, she knows a few things about vampires and she has some ideas about how things should go in town, and I think it unnerves Damon a little bit, because she's a variable that he hadn't planned on."

Plus, there's that whole bromance thing he and Alaric have going on. Damon doesn't take kindly to the idea of girls mucking it up. "Damon and Alaric are really close, so her coming in as a love interest for his friend makes him a little bit wary, for sure, because that's his guy, that's his buddy," DeVitto tells us. "It's funny, because she's got a very strong personality, she's not a back-down kind of girl, so that's a really fun dynamic to watch."

Off set, DeVitto is currently working on some projects close to her heart. She and Wesley have teamed up with Global Roots (an organization we'll tell you much more about in a future article, so stay tuned -- but in the meantime, read up here). Additionally, DeVitto remains passionate about her work as a hospice care ambassador.

"When I first started in hospice, I was just a volunteer," she explains. "Not until last year, after doing hospice volunteering for four years, did I start thinking about how I could bring more awareness to it. Someone at Give Back Hollywood told me that the National Palliative Care Organization had never had a spokesperson. So I reached out to them, and from there, I really became a kind of ambassador for hospice. I still volunteer, myself, but I also do a lot of awareness work to encourage other people to look into it."

If you're looking for a cause to join or for a place to volunteer, DeVitto couldn't speak more highly of hospice care. She encourages fans not to be swayed by misconceptions about hospice before getting involved. "I just found it by chance on an internet search, and when I started working, most of my friends didn't know what it was, or if they did, they felt that it had such a morbid connotation to it. I really want to show people that it's not scary and it's something that is so accessible to volunteer with in your area, anywhere. Hospice is the most amazing thing that's ever entered my life and it's something that I will do until I have to go into care myself," she says.

For more information about palliative care, click here. Of course, don't forget to tune in to "The Vampire Diaries" on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. EST for a more in-depth look at Dr. Meredith Fell -- we think you're going to love her!
Photo/Video credit: The CW