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Credit: The WB © 2006 Warner Brothers    

The Vampire Diaries

Before They Were on The Vampire Diaries

Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy Gilbert)

We all cocked our heads and wondered if this kid held any relation to the legendary and iconic actor Steve McQueen. Well, we checked our facts and lo and behold: Little Steven R. is in fact the grandson of Steve McQueen and actress Neille Adams. Now, that fact alone is quite the career builder, so it comes as no surprise that Steven R. really didn’t do much acting before The Vampire Diaries. Sure, he played totally extraneous and expendable characters in programs such as Everwood, Numb3rs, Without a Trace, and CSI: Miami, which just proves our theory that in Hollywood it’s not who you know, but rather who you’re related to.

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Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images    
Candice Accola (Caroline Forbes)

Candice appears to be less of an actor and more of an activist; she spends most of her time campaigning for a cure for Lyme disease. Her crowning achievement in film was a starring role in a dull horror movie rife with social commentary called Deadgirl, which wound up on DVD only three months after its release. As far as we can tell, Candice caught a lucky break with her role on TVD as Bonnie and Elena’s loyal friend, Caroline Forbes.
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Credit: Alloy    

The road to immortality has been paved with less than desirable bit parts for many of the actors now starring in Vampire Diaries. Fortunately for the cast members with less robust acting resumes, the train to vampire fame arrived just in time! Whether as a CSI extra or the grandson of a Hollywood legend, see where the residents of Mystic Falls began their journeys.

And now from humble beginnings...

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Sara Canning (Jenna Sommers)

This Canadian cutie obviously wasn’t after an Oscar when she chose the role of Nicky Hilton in 2008’s Paparazzi Princess: The Paris Hilton Story. That same year, Sara was doing some homework on fantasy programming when she was cast in a small (like, two episodes small) role on Smallville. Following that stint, she waded through a few “Made for TV” movies with such clever and captivating titles as Come Dance at My Wedding (barf) and Taken in Broad Daylight (yawn) before finally arriving in Mystic Falls to play Aunt Jenna, Elena and Jeremy's legal guardian.

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Nina Dobrev (Elena Gilbert)

Nina was on the quintessential Canadian program Degrassi: The Next Generation for a whopping three years before migrating south to Atlanta for her roles as Elena and Katherine on The Vampire Diaries. Playing Mia (Degrassi’s resident knocked-up teen with the shady past) is a far cry from Mystic Falls’ brooding Elena — we’re just glad she got rid of those boxed perm locks!

Prior to partaking in Canadian campiness on the small screen, Nina caught a leading role in a little-known film called The American Mall, a monstrosity of a musical (and a cliched piece of doo-doo, if you ask us). Sure, she’s played other small parts, but now that she’s on The Vampire Diaries, do any of those really matter? Yeah... we don’t think so either.

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Credit: NBC © 2008 NBC Universal, Inc.    

Zach Roerig (Matt Donovan)

Zach rolled into Hollywood as “Rollerblade Messenger” on Law & Order back in 2004. (In case you don’t remember, that was way back when there was only one iteration of the crime procedural as opposed to twelve!) Just like his castmate Paul Wesley, Zach also worked the daytime television circuit: playing Casey Hughes in a whopping 274 episodes of As the World Turns. He was also in a handful of episodes of Friday Night Lights as a hunky high school teenager before finally landing his role as Matt Donovan in The Vampire Diaries. We just wonder if TVD will be around for 274 episodes as well... we can sure hope, right?

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Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore)

Ian wasn’t quite as hard up for acting work as some of his other cast mates. You might remember him as Boone from a little show called Lost? No? Okay, you should probably go ahead and remove yourself from this website and go straight back to the dark ages, where you belong.

But, we digress. Before his short-lived (literally) stint on Lost, Ian’s artistic endeavors ran the gamut from roles in off-Broadway performances to being the face of fashion label Guess? for two years. That little tidbit is just between us, though. Ian doesn't want to be know as just another pretty face.

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Katerina Graham (Bonnie Bennett)

Katerina’s big screen debut came in 1998 (she was only 10 years old) opposite Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap. After a four-year sabbatical, Katerina made her comeback with lucrative roles (we’re kidding, people) in programs such as Lizzie McGuire, Malcolm in the Middle, Joan of Arcadia, The OC, CSI, and Hannah Montana. Besides her turn as Elena’s best friend Bonnie in TVD, what’s next for the actress? Well, Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts better watch out: Katerina is making her foray back into films! She nabbed a small part in 17 Again and has a whopping five films currently in production including Honey 2 (oops, we missed the first one) and Bleachers. On second thought, Sandra and Julia are probably safe.

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Credit: CBS © 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc.    

Michael Trevino (Tyler Lockwood)

This guy’s resume reads like a list of Achievements for Most Extraneous Roles. Seriously, Michael’s hit up every craptastic show we could possibly think of. Commander-in-Chief? Cane? The Riches? We could go on, but you get the point. He finally played Ozzie in a few episodes of the CW’s 90210 reboot before landing the part of spoiled jock Tyler Lockwood in TVD. And if our spidey senses are correct, Tyler’s character is about to get a LOT more interesting.

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Paul Wesley (Stefan Salvatore)

Paul became enamoured with acting during a summer arts program in the third grade. (Aww, isn’t that adorbs?) With those charming looks, piercing eyes, and perma-furrowed brow, it would only make sense that Paul was destined to land in the soap opera circuit. At the tender age of 17, he caught his big (relatively speaking) break with the role of Sean McKinnon on Another World before moving on to other fine, quality daytime programs such as Guiding Light. Following was a rapid succession of other lackluster roles and one-offs on The OC, Smallville, Law & Order: CI, and 8 Simple Rules, to name a few.

He tested the cinematic waters in a little stinker called Killer Movie (which co-starred Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester) and dabbled with Keifer in 24 before finally nabbing his role as the mildly irritating (but extremely handsome) Stefan Salvatore.

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Kayla Ewell (Vicki Donovan)

Kayla’s worked the Hollywood circuit like the rent is always due. She’s did a Coca-Cola commercial in 2002, played an uncredited role as a bank teller on Linday Lohan’s rom-com Just My Luck, and even spent a respectable year as Caitlin Ramirez on The Bold and the Beautiful. Granted, she was only on nine episodes in the first season of The Vampire Diaries as tramp-turned-vamp Vicki Donovan, but we keep hoping she’ll come back. Seeing as how she’s already possibly moved on to CSI, we kinda doubt we’ll see her around Mystic Falls in Season 2.

09.1.2010 / 09:53 PM EDT by Heidi Suke
Related: The Vampire Diaries, Gossip, TV Stars

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