Paul Wesley Takes a Bite Out of Gotham to Direct 'Batwoman'

Damian Holbrook
Paul Wesley Batwoman Season 1 A Narrow Escape
Q&A Katie Yu/The CW

After eight seasons of Mystic Falls' vampires, Paul Wesley should know a few things about bats, but who knew he was so good at directing them?! The Vampire Diaries alum stepped behind the camera to helm this week's Batwoman, "A Narrow Escape" and, much like Stefan Salvatore did to Enzo (twice), he killed it.

Of course, this isn't his first time playing Spielberg. Wesley — last seen impressively shaking off the teen idol thing on CBS All Access's Tell Me a Story — handled five episodes of TVD during his run, then moved on to outings of Shadowhunters, Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico. So he's definitely got the chops.

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'We wanted to make it all about family,' creator Kevin Williamson said of the CBS All Access series.

And if you have any doubt, his work on Batwoman is proof enough. What we needed to know is A) what he brought to the CW show and B) whether he's thinking of taking his career behind-the-scenes full-time. Because, no. That would not be OK.

Shadowhunters, Legacies, Roswell, now this... all effects-heavy shows. Did your time on The Vampire Diaries help train your eye for what directing a stylized genre series entails?

Paul Wesley: Yes, most definitely. I think my time in front of the camera on such a long-running series allowed me the opportunity to understand both direction as well as story beats. There’s a lot of time in-between setups to observe and take mental notes. I was also afforded the opportunity to attend pre-production and post-production meetings, which proved to be invaluable. I am grateful I was in the position to be able to do that.

Katie Yu/The CW

Actors directing actors would seem to be heaven for both sides. How would you describe your approach?

My general approach is that I try to stay out of the actor’s way. That doesn’t mean I don’t give notes, but I prefer the notes be seldom and only when they can allow the actor’s instinct to shine through. A lot of directors make the mistake of trying to micromanage their vision and it all ends up coming across a bit forced and silly. In reality, as long as an actor is being genuinely authentic and staying true to the story, they will be far more interesting than some preconceived notion of how anyone thinks they should be. So my direction is to strive for authenticity, even if it is a heightened supernatural series.

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The Wayne Enterprise guy's got some family business to settle, and it starts tonight!

What did you instinctively think after you read this Batwoman script? Can you tease a moment that you are most proud of?

Visually, I immediately started thinking of ways I could  make it as filmic and big as possible. As far as story, one of the plots involves Arkham Asylum. I really gravitated towards it because it's very contained and nuanced, but still really fun. I kept thinking of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as a reference.

Robert Falconer/The CW

You have a ton of executive-producing projects in the works (which is so awesome). Do you promise not to let that keep you from taking more roles in front of the camera?

Ha! Yes, I promise. I have to say, I love television development and I signed a development deal with Kapital Entertainment, Aaron Kaplan’s company. Aaron has become a good friend of mine and I genuinely love the process of developing with him and his team. Creatively speaking, it’s very gratifying to develop content from the ground up. I spend a lot of my days reading books, articles, and various IP looking for exciting stories or ideas. With that said, my first love is acting and we are actually working on a new project that I am attached to star in as well as produce, so if all goes well, hopefully one day you will be able to see that.

Batwoman, Sundays, 8/7c, The CW