This just in: Damon Salvatore has a few other passions besides blood and Elena Gilbert.
As more Vampire Diaries fans know well, Ian Somerhalder cares more than most about the environment!
Via the Ian Somerhalder Foundation the actor is a laeding conservation activist - and he appears on tonight’s installment of the Showtime's Years f Living Dangerously to discuss those efforts and a lot more.
On “Ice and Brimstone,” Somerhalder examines two people at opposing sides of the climate change debate – a father, who doesn’t believe in climate change at all; and his daughter, who has made it her life’s work to not only educate others ,but actually do something about fixing our world and its crisis in terms of the environment.
During a recent Vampire Diaries screening, the star shared his reaction when he was first asked to be a part of the Showtime series.
"When your manager calls and tells you that James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger are producing a show for Showtime, and they want you in it with like Don Cheadle and Matt Damon and Harrison Ford and all these people, you freak out, first of all,” he said.
“But then you realize the weight that it actually holds.”
In explaining his half of the episode (the other half focuses on journalist’s Lesley Stahl and how climate change has impacted Greenland), the actor spoke of Rick Joyner, an Evangelical Minister (pictured above with Somerhalder).
“I don’t judge him. And I actually love the guy, but he has this massive voice and platform and he doesn’t believe in climate change. He thinks it’s all a bunch of bullshit.
"So it causes you to stop and think for a second and say, ‘Okay. Well, all right, sir, let’s talk about this. So 99 out of 100 scientists say climate change is real and it’s happening and it’s man-made.’"
On the other side of the debate is his daughter, Anna Jane, who Somerhalder talks with extensively in the segment.
“She works for the Sierra Club for the Beyond Coal campaign,” the actor shared. “And she works with this amazing woman named Mary Anne Hitt, who, literally, has shut down 158 coal-fired power plants, which it the equivalent of taking 45 million cars off the road. That’s insane. So these people are amazing. [Joyner’s] daughter works for that organization.”
While much of the story is about their differences, it also shows just how committed to the cause some people are despite the opposition which still very much exists.
However, despite all the evidence presented during the show, Joyner still didn’t believe in global warming and Somerhalder was determined to get through to him.
“So we go and visit this guy, Bob Inglis, who is like a six-time Congressman representing the most conservative district in the whole country. And even [he] realized climate change is happening. So we sit them down together. We sit [Joyner] down with all these people, and we still can’t convince him. But he’s just an amazing guy. He’s so smart and he’s so loving and he’s so good.”
That said, Somerhalder was able to explain why he thinks Joyner feels the way he does.
“Evangelicals, which are a very giant part of this country, believe that it’s really just in God’s hands. If God wanted to fix it, he would. It is what it is. So if I dump this 20 thousand gallons of toxic waste into this river, and it goes down, and it destroys two towns, and goes in the ocean, and kills an entire coral reef, well, it’s God’s will.
"He’ll fix it. People literally believe this. And they run their companies in their districts and they raise their families this way. I’m not judging anyone, but that’s not okay.”
Somerhalder was so sure he’d get Joyner to come around, he admitted to perhaps making an error in his commitment to the show.
“I made the huge mistake of promising David Nevins (President of Showtime) and Matt Blank (CEO of Showtime) and Jerry Weintraub (Exec Producer) that I would get him to turn on camera.” Even though he may not have gotten that to happen, the actor is still committed to changing Joyner’s mind. “When the show revs up another season, we’re going to make this happen.”
That determination is paired with the same drive of the younger generation, who Somerhalder marveled at what they’re capable of and how a television series such as The Vampire Diaries.
“Because of this show…and it is the most bizarre thing. I’m humbled by it. It makes me jump up out of bed every morning. There are 100 million people in China that see every episode of The Vampire Diaries. There’s like an additional 100 million people globally that see this show. That is an absurd amount of people.
"These young people are so engaged. They are so determined…but this has been the connective tissue between bringing massive social and climate issues together to create quantifiable change and action...
"I’ve been able to go out on this world stage with the biggest leaders, whether heads of state or businesses in the world and actually help them understand how to leverage entertainment value by using social media to create quantifiable global change. It’s happening. And it’s unbelievable.”
Years of Living Dangerously airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.
The Vampire Diaries Season 5 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.