We would tell fans of The Vampire Diaries to prepare for some intense, bloody action in the next few episodes, but you guys already know that. That'd be like us telling you, hey, the sky's blue. Obvious statement is obvious.

While watching the first two episodes of season three, we couldn't help but notice that the show felt a little different. In a good way. It seemed like everything was slowed down a bit and—gasp!the characters were attempting to have a little fun after last season's nonstop drama and deathfest. Still, nothin' gold can stay...and no one can stay happy in Mystic Falls for long.

We recently chatted with the lovely Nina Dobrev about the show's new tone for season three, Elena coming to terms with Stefan's (Paul Wesley) dark side and why she has such a strong connection with Damon (Ian Somerhalder)...

A lot of people have said the season-three premiere almost felt like a different show. Not in a bad way, but it felt very different from season two.
I think season two was extremely intense, fast-paced and a lot happened—almost a little too much. We wanted to shift gears a little bit and remind everyone of what we originally started with. This is a character-driven show, and if we don't care about the character then we won't care about what happens to them, no matter how tragic it is. We kind of reset our relationships, but it's not going to last very long.(Showrunners)  Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec get too excited about action and death and blood. There's going to be a lot of that coming and everyone better get ready to start paying attention again and not get too comfortable.

I think the phone call between Stefan and Elena at the end of that episode was one of the show's best moments.
Everyone loved that! I was surprised. I wasn't sure if everyone would understand it. I didn't know how she knew Stefan was on the other line, but I guess it's just instinctual. I'm really happy it really read that way and that everyone responded to that.

Do you think Elena is being naive when it comes to Stefan's dark side?
Yeah, I do. I think every single person can say that they've been in one of those relationships that they're so blissfully unaware and in love that they don't  see the big picture—that the relationships is destructive or not good for them until they separate from it. Elena is so hopeful and so passionate and driven to help and find Stefan and save him, that she's ignoring all the red flags. She's going to find out a lot about Stefan that she had never known or imagined. It gets pretty intense.

The Vampire Diaries, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder

Frank Ockenfels/ The CW

Obviously I have to ask about Damon and Elena. Why do you think she's trying so hard to suppress her feelings for him?
She's in denial and she doesn't want to say anything out loud. If she says it or thinks it, then it makes it real. I think that she's deflecting and avoiding her problems. It's the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it and she's just avoiding it.

From the beginning of the series, the two have always had an understanding of each other, which Elena even said in a season one episode. Why do you think Elena feels so connected to Damon, despite of all the horrible things he's done?
Like anyone, she's human. She has an attraction to two different types of personalities, two different types of people. Each of them feeds different parts of her soul. We all think Stefan is loving and caring, but then we find out that he has a darker side.  Damon was this crazy, maniac killer for so long, but now he's stepping up to this plate and becoming this nicer hero person who has feelings and takes care of Elena. Everyone has good and bad in them, but it's just seeing who's more compatible.

Would you like to see Elena step away from both brothers and all the drama and just be single?
I would love to see her single for awhile. I think every girl needs to take a break in between relationships to reevaluate their priorities and their goals. Before you can be good for yourself or anyone else, you have to take care of yourself and make sure that you're in a good place. She's in a really conflicted crazy place.

Something that a lot of fans would like to see, us included, would be flashbacks to Elena's life before her parents died. Is that something you'd like to play?
Oh, I like that. Yeah! I think that's a really good idea. I should tell Kevin and Julie that! It would be amazing to see that, but then again, I think I look very different.

With all the death and drama, Elena is understandably a pretty dark character. Will we be seeing the lighter side of her soon?
We do explore the lighter side of Elena this season, more so than we did before. She's trying. She's really trying to make time for her girlfriends or life. Obviously, things get [in the way], but at least she's trying.

One of our favorite relationships on the show is Elena and Jeremy's. Even though we don't see to see a lot of their interactions, their scenes always have an impact. They're basically back to where they were at the beginning of the series, coping with the loss of a loved one. What's the dynamic between them like this year?
In the premiere episode there was a really great scene between Elena and Jeremy that was cut because of timing. It was a bummer—it was a really great scene. Through their loss, they're growing closer. With Jenna's death, their coping mechanisms are very different, but at least they're trying. Elena's having to step up to be this parental figure in some ways, but she's not belittling Jeremy either. They're on a more level playing field. They're growing and their relationship is growing.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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