Star Trek’s Paul Wesley became one of the biggest names on TV thanks to his leading role in the hit teen drama series The Vampire Diaries. Like his co-stars Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder (who is also one of his best friends and business partner, thanks to their Brother’s Bond Bourbon brand) he now commands legions of fans, who adore his character Stefan Salvatore for balancing out his brother Damon’s more mischievous tendencies.
The Vampire Diaries can rightly be pointed to as the launching point for Paul Wesley’s mainstream career, and the actor has always been clear that he’s eternally grateful for being a part of one of the best TV series of its era, not least because of how much support he receives from the Vampire Diaries fans themselves. But, nothing’s ever simple and Wesley had some significant concerns about his role in the show before he took on his recent role in Star Trek.
“It’s such a grind doing a show for so long,” said Wesley, speaking on the Inside of You podcast, reflecting on the worries he had about being tied to the series for such an extensive period of time.”By season 3 or so you’re going ‘Oh shit, I need to do other stuff.'”
He continued, “You don’t want to be typecast. And also you’re like, ‘OK, I have this pop culture fame. But am I respected?’ I want to be respected by fellow actors, and so you’re striving to do different kinds of things.”
Wesley was committed to The Vampire Diaries, undoubtedly one of the best drama series in its genre, from 2009 up until 2017. It was an intense and long period of time for the actor, and despite his love for the show, concern about how it might limit or restrict this career afterward was more than justified. His next lead role in a series was in the anthology Tell Me a Story, however, the Grimm/American Horror Story hybrid only survived for two seasons before cancelation following on from middling reviews.
But, Wesley’s worries were all put to bed when he secured a role in Star Trek as, in his own words, “one of the most iconic characters in the history of television, if not the most iconic”. That role, of course, is as James T. Kirk in the Star Trek series Strange New Worlds. “To be able to step into those shoes is beyond, for me, an honor.”
Proving that he could extend beyond the fandom he’d secured with The Vampire Diaries, Wesley now plays Kirk in a recurring role in Star Trek Strange New Worlds, which is one of the best-reviewed shows on TV right now. Not only does it demonstrate his range (Kirk is very different from Stefan) but it places Wesley in yet another beloved role, while the fact that he’s a guest star leaves him free to dip in and out of other series too without too much commitment to Star Trek, unlike his experience with The Vampire Diaries.
Of course, Star Trek actors have also struggled with typecasting, but with a long and experienced career now behind him, Wesley can simply enjoy playing an iconic role his own way, and savor every second.
For more on Wesley, check out our guide to the Strange New Worlds season 3 release date, or see our picks for the best vampire movies. If you like Wesley in Star Trek, find out what else is new on Paramount plus this month, and read our ranking of the Star Trek captains.