McQueen Of The Damned

8 June 2012 | 5:53 pm | Guy Davis

His grandad was Steve McQueen, his dad was in The Karate Kid, now The Vampire Diaries' star Steven R. McQueen plays a role originally written as a four-year-old girl.

The supernatural TV soapie The Vampire Diaries has become something of a worldwide phenomenon, as stories about attractive young women involved in love triangles that happen to contain vampires tend to do.

And among the ridiculously photogenic young cast of the series is 23-year-old Steven R. McQueen, who plays Jeremy Gilbert, the dark and troubled brother (well, actually cousin – it's complicated) of the show's heroine Elena.

McQueen's name sounds familiar, of course. And yes, he is the grandson and namesake of the legendarily badass The Great Escape star (and the son of Chad McQueen, fondly remembered by '80s kids for giving Ralph Macchio grief in The Karate Kid).

But even though acting in his blood, it took him a little while to take to the family business.

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“When I was younger, I never thought I would act,” he says. “But growing up, I watched a lot of movies and became more and more interested in giving it a try. And once I did, I found that I loved it.”

Aside from a lead in the gleefully disreputable blood-and-boobs extravaganza Piranha 3D (“That was a lot of fun to make,” he laughs), The Vampire Diaries is McQueen's main acting credit, and the role of Jeremy was one that was devised especially for the show. In the books by L.J. Smith, Elena's sibling is a little...different.

“A four-year-old girl named Margaret, actually,” he smiles. “The books were really used as a bit of a guideline but the show really wanted to go in its own direction with its storylines. And Jeremy was a character they had no guidelines for because he wasn't in the books. So it's been interesting to see where they've taken him each season.”

In McQueen's words, Jeremy has “been through the wringer”, especially early on in the series.

Initially a drug addict, he sought to become a vampire himself after the death of his girlfriend. In more recent episodes, though, he's become a vampire hunter with the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead.

“He started from this place of extreme weakness,” says McQueen. “He's become callused over time, though, and now he just wants to be strong and protect the people he loves. He's only human and can only do so much...and there are times when he fails to do so.”

McQueen calls acting “therapeutic in a strange way”.

“It's fun as an actor playing all different aspects and personalities. You get to dive into your own psyche; you get to learn about yourself by exploring the emotions of other people. Jeremy's pretty dark because he's been through so much, and it's sometimes hard to connect with him. But that's kind of the fun of it.”

And as for the appeal of The Vampire Diaries, he feels it's a combination of escapism and understanding.

“A lot of times in life we feel powerless,” he says. “Life throws curveballs at us and there are many things that are beyond our control. Jeremy's dealing with that, and he can only do so much. I think it's something a lot of people can relate to. As actors, we're storytellers. And it's terrific that people enjoy the stories you're telling.”

Steven R. McQueen, David Anders, Malese Jow and Nathaniel Buzolic are in Sydney and Melbourne for The Vampire Diaires 2: A Return To Mystic Falls convention. Tickets are available to purchase on the door on both days.  For full details, visit

WHAT: Vampire Diaires 2: A Return To Mystic Falls 


Saturday 9 June - The Science Theatre, UNSW, Sydney (8.30am - 6.30pm)

Sunday 10 June - Carrillo Gantner Basement Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Theatre, Melbourne (9am - 7pm)