'Vampire Diaries' star Paul Wesley tells us why it's so good to be bad -- and spills on Stefan's response to Damon/Elena

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tvd-paul-nina-stelena.jpgThis season on "The Vampire Diaries," we finally got to meet The Ripper, Stefan's bloodthirsty, ruthless alter-ego who had previously only been legend. We're not sure what it says about us that we found this sociopath version of our hero far more compelling than his usual compassionate martyr self, but we definitely did.

When it was revealed that Stefan had quietly quit drinking human blood (and was slowly reverting back to being the kind of guy who finds himself near tears on the regular) we couldn't help but be a little disappointed. We miss his swagger -- and we aren't alone in that.

"Yeah, yeah, it bums me out," Paul Wesley told us, calling from the car on his way to the airport for one of his usual flights between the set in Atlanta and his home in LA. "It does. You know it does. I really just enjoy [Ripper Stefan] a lot more. You play a vampire on screen, and when you have to play a good vampire, you have to fight your nature. Good Stefan doesn't feel as natural in terms of what I want to be doing on screen, and what I want to be saying. I feel a little stifled, myself, whenever he's resisting the urge to do vampiresque things."

In this week's episode we'll definitely see Stefan resisting the urge to drink blood. His withdrawal symptoms are surprisingly human for most of the episode -- he's twitchy and restless, and he fills the void with booze.

In the past, Paul has equated Stefan's blood issues to a drug addiction, but in this episode, we'll learn that Stefan trying to quit blood is less like a human trying to quit heroin... and more like a human trying to quit water. Blood is essential to a vampire's existence, so Stefan's detox isn't going to be anything resembling easy -- for himself, for his brother, or for Elena.

On Thursday, fans will get a little bit more insight into where Elena stands in regard to both Stefan and Damon when she confides in Matt about her relationships with the Salvatores. It's a rare moment where her guard is down and she's not trying to deny any feelings either way. Elena comes off as more self-aware than she has in quite a while.

As Damon and Elena have grown closer this season, the Stefan/Elena fans have become increasingly worried (and increasingly vocal). While we definitely have not seen the end of the "Delena" attraction, Paul tells us that fans waiting for Stefan and Elena to reconcile shouldn't give up hope.

"I think they have something to look forward to, to a degree," he says. "I don't think it's going to be like a walk in the park, but I think that at this point, they're open to a whole boatload of possibilities. You know how when a relationship ends, you might think 'Oh, these people will never get back together! They've been through so much!' But after a year, after two years, you meet again, and all of a sudden, you can forget all that. I don't know if they're going to get back together, but it's more of a possibility now than it was seven episodes ago, absolutely."

tvd-stefan-damon-freaking-out.jpgOddly enough, the relationship that's most important in Stefan's life at the moment is his relationship with his brother. Despite the fact that Elena is more available than ever, Stefan and Damon are closer, now, than they've been since 1864.

Of course their relationship will continue to have its mercurial moments, but fans can expect Stefan and Damon to make an effort to remain allies for a while. This week, we'll see Damon go to drastic measures to help his brother out, and we'll see them discuss Elena honestly and without much animosity.

"I think they've come to this silent understanding of the fact that they both are in love with the same girl," Paul laughs. "They just allow it. To be honest, it's almost like Stefan allowed Damon to step in. I mean, that was Stefan's girl, and now Damon is suddenly a real factor, he's really in the picture. I think Stefan feels like he deserves this, in a way. He kind of abandoned her, in his mind."

As the season continues, we'll see Damon and Elena on a collision course for each other. The inevitability of their relationship isn't lost on Stefan, either. What you won't see, though, is Stefan giving anyone an ultimatum.

"This is the case for any relationship: you can't force anything," Paul says. "You have to let things happen naturally. Stefan, for his part, thinks that if Elena needs to explore the Damon side of things, she should be allowed to do that, and if she decides that Damon is indeed the guy she wants to be with, then I think Stefan would at that point be okay with losing her, because it means she wasn't the right girl for him anyway." He laughs. "I mean, otherwise, it'd be pretty pathetic. I don't want him to be pathetic. He's cooler than that, right?"

It certainly appears that way.

Tune in on Thursday at 8 p.m. EST to see how Stefan's addiction changes the way the people he cares about see him. And hey, if, like us, you kinda miss Stefan's psycho side, you'll definitely dig the flashbacks.

"The Stefan from 1912 is not the Stefan from 1920," Paul teases. "It's kind of cool. You get to see the creation of The Ripper."
Photo/Video credit: The CW