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The Vampire Diaries' Paul Wesley Isn't Interested In Playing Stefan Salvatore (Or Any Vamp) Again

Actors often get permanently associated with popular characters that they play early in their careers. To many fans, Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker, and no string of serious roles will blur the association between Rainn Wilson and beet-farming weirdo Dwight Schrute from "The Office." Paul Wesley certainly owes much of his early-career success to the popularity of the teen drama series "The Vampire Diaries," which aired on The CW from 2009 to 2017.  

Episodes in the first season averaged a whopping 3.6 million viewers, and the series won several People's Choice and Teen Choice Awards during its eight-season run. But despite the success of the show, Wesley says he not only has no wish to reboot his complex and tragic character Stefan Salvatore, he also has no interest at all in ever returning to the vampire genre. Wesley told InStyle he is without a doubt unwilling to revisit Mystic Falls, Virginia, or the world of the blood-sucking undead ever again. "I would never do another vampire anything, period, let alone 'Vampire Diaries," he said. 

Wesley did admit that the show still holds fans' interest more than a decade after he first appeared on screen as Stefan. "When I get recognized, it's because of Stefan," Wesley said. "It's the biggest thing I've ever done, as far as popularity. I think you have to get that next thing that puts you into a conversation that involves you and not the character that you're known for playing."

Paul Wesley now stars on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Paul Wesley seems to have found his next thing, but in this case, he is surely benefitting from the popularity of a decades-old franchise. He currently stars on "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" as Captain James T. Kirk, a role that was famously brought to life by William Shatner on the original "Star Trek" series. Wesley said he was drawn to the project both for its storied history and the chance to distance himself from "The Vampire Diaries."

"One of the things that excited me about the role of Captain Kirk was the fact that it's such a popular, arguably one of the most, influential characters in the history of television," Wesley told InStyle. "I jumped at this role because it allows me to be something other than Stefan in a big way."

Wesley also appreciates the opportunity to distinguish his version of Kirk from Shatner's. Wesley's Captain Kirk is written in a much goofier and lighthearted fashion than Shatner's, and he pointed out just how much he appreciates the differences between how the two characters and shows are written. 

"We have to remember it's sort of an escapism, space-adventure show, and it can't take itself too seriously," he said. "Obviously, there are moments where we have to commit and be serious, but I think a part of the allure of 'Star Trek' is how fun and entertaining it is."