Actor Ian Somerhalder passionate about environment

Thu Sep 9, 2010 5:16pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - He was best known for his breakout role as Boone Carlyle in "Lost", but these days, Ian Somerhalder is winning accolades for his turn as vampire Damon Salvatore in the TV show "The Vampire Diaries."

Somerhalder, 31, has been busy in Atlanta, Georgia, filming season 2 of the series after spending a difficult summer being pulled in two different directions: promoting the CW network show ahead of its return on Thursday, and helping raise environmental awareness in his home state of Louisiana following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

He is passionate about the environment and animal welfare but says he doesn't want to be another celebrity with a pet cause, pushing an agenda.

"I think it's a fine line. I don't ever want anything to come in the way of me truthfully telling a story," Somerhalder told Reuters in an interview.

"I appreciate the response and the support of fans, of people who actually don't mind watching me on screen ... I just don't ever want to jeopardize that."

His character on "The Vampire Diaries" -- alternately described by fans as a "sociopath" and "misunderstood" -- is slowly rediscovering his humanity through a renewed, but still dysfunctional, relationship with his younger vampire brother (played by Paul Wesley) and a complicated and deepening friendship with his brother's human girlfriend (played by Nina Dobrev).

Critics laud Somerhalder for his portrayal of a vampire who comes to the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia, to wreak havoc, only to find himself protecting it instead. The highly-anticipated second season promises plenty of plot twists, drama and an unfolding love triangle.

The show -- noted for its fast-paced storytelling and weekly cliffhangers -- has received critical praise despite initial skepticism. It is CW's top-rated show, scoring the youth-oriented network its largest audience ever when it premiered a year ago.   Continued...

<p>Actor Ian Somerhalder poses during the opening ceremony of the 50th Monte Carlo television festival in Monaco June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>