After finding their leading lady, TVD needed the two male components of the essential love triangle. No easy task.
"We looked high and low to cast Stefan and Damon. So she did chemistry read after chemistry read with multiple actors," Julie explained.
Some of the actors who read for either and/or both roles? Zach Roerig (who would go on to play Matt Donovan), Michael Trevino (who would land the role of Tyler Lockwood), Nathanial Buzolic (later cast as Kol), and 7th Heaven star David Gallagher, with Julie admitting of the latter, "He impressed us so much originally...but the whole 7th Heaven thing, I wonder if he'll ever be able to get past that." (She would later cast him as a werewolf after seeing Super 8.)
And then finally, they found their guys.
"Paul and Ian kind of came in late in the process. Paul auditioned like 15 times, and Ian kind of appeared out of the blue," Julie said. As for Nina, she recalled what made Paul (who first read for Damon) stand out from the rest of the guys reading opposite her in the chemistry reads: "The only one who wasn't trying too hard, that didn't speak to me at any point unless we were filming, was Paul Wesley—so it's funny to think that he did the right thing," she told EW.