The Vampire Diaries’ Leslie-Anne Huff Previews Rayna at Rock Bottom: ‘She’s Lost Her Entire Life’s Work’

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Rayna Cruz may be the world’s most feared vampire hunter, but as we’re about to see, even bloodthirsty killers have their limit.

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Picking up where last week’s episode left off — on the floor, specifically — Friday’sVampire Diaries (The CW, 8/7c) finds Rayna staring down what could be the final hours of her last life. (You know, assuming she doesn’t back out of her plan to save Bonnie.)

“She just Beautiful Mind-ed all the names of the vampires in her head, so if you think about it, she’s lost her entire life’s work,” Leslie-Anne Huff explains to TVLine. “So not only is she being driven crazy by all the illusions and voices in her head, but she’s also dealing emotionally with hundreds of years of work having gone to waste. You’ll see how someone like Rayna, who’s such a tough and secretive character so far, deal with that. She’s been so strong and such a badass, so it’s fun to see what happens when she’s broken down.”

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Below, Huff looks back on her experience with the show, sharing some of her favorite moments and scene partners. (Plus, we finally address the Elena-phant in the room.)

TVLINE | Much has been made of your resemblance to Nina Dobrev. Were you aware of the similarity when you auditioned for Rayna?
It wasn’t in my head at all. One of my best friends, this is her favorite show of all-time, so she may have mentioned it to me once or twice. But that was the last thing on my mind going into the audition. It’s obviously a huge compliment to say that I look anything like her, so I’ll take it.

TVLINE | At first, I thought it was just the fans noticing it. I was surprised when they mentioned the resemblance on the actual show.
I think it was fun to mention that and to toy with it. It gets the fans thinking, ‘Wait, is she a doppelganger?’ That’s one of the things this show does so well, dropping little hints for us to chew on.

TVLINE | Did you play catch-up before you started filming, or did you go in blind?
I had just started binging the first season when I got called into audition, and once I was cast, I tried to watch as much as I could. I especially watched Season 4 with the Brotherhood of the Five storyline.

TVLINE | What about the physicality of the role? Did you need any special training?
I’d like to say I’m very physically fit, but I certainly didn’t have any swordfighting training under my belt until I started doing The Vampire Diaries, so that’s one of the biggest gifts from playing Rayna — learning all of that stuff. As soon as I got to work, they put me into training with the stunt coordinator. It was fairly rigorous at first as they got me up to speed on the basics of stunts and swordplay. You’d be surprised how hard that is, and how hard it is to make it look real and effortless. That’s one of the things I really wanted to convey with her; this is just her, this is what she does and has been doing for 100 years.

TVLINE | Rayna has become a much more sympathetic character since she was first introduced. Did you know we’d be exploring her so deeply?
That’s how these things work, you just have to take it as it comes along. As the actress portraying Rayna, I always had the bigger picture of her story in mind. To me, she’s always been sympathetic. Whether or not everybody caught up to that, I don’t know. I’m such a family person, so close with my dad, so I kept that in mind when I thought about Rayna’s motivation. One of my favorite scenes to shoot was that series of flashbacks with her father.

TVLINE | They keep pairing you up with different people, which must be fun. Does any one scene partner stick out as particularly fun to work with?
Oh, Ian, of course. He’s so much fun to be around, and such a great actor. One of my biggest fight scenes was with him. But everybody was great. Coming into a show that’s been on for seven season, it’s a family over there, and they welcomed me with open arms. Ian’s just so fun and funny, which you can see in his portrayal of Damon. He takes his role and the show seriously, but he’s a funny guy.

Interview courtesy of TVLINE.