It's hard to imagine anyone else playing Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries, but Ian Somerhalder nearly lost the part after blowing his first audition.
"The process of booking a television show is an extensively nerve-wracking, nail-biting, awful experience," the actor, 33, said during the CW show's panel at Paleyfest in Beverly Hills Saturday. "You can believe in yourself so much but when you realize you want something in life, the stakes are raised."
"I knew this was my role. I wanted this role -- I knew I could do it," Somerhalder said. "You go through a series of testing, you meet the directors and producers and writers, and then go through a testing phase, and then you get an offer. Then you go and test for the studio -- in this case Warner Brothers -- and then you test for the network."
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson, 46, took Somerhalder aside and said, "'That wasn't good, was it?'" Somerhalder recalled. "I said, 'No.' And he said, 'Just go back and do what you know you need to do.' And I did. I did what I thought I needed to do, and I left feeling awful. Guess what? It wasn't good enough."
"I had to go back and re-test because all our big boss, [CBS president] Les Moonves, did not buy it, the fact that I was Damon. And I wanted to jump off of a building," Somerhalder said. After seeing another actor waiting to read for the part, he thought to himself: "You know what? Screw this. This is mine. This is not his."
"I went in and did it and oddly enough, ended up getting the call," said Somerhalder, who's currently dating costar Nina Dobrev. "But it was after 10 days of virtual hell. And you don't always win. But every time you lose, you get better."