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'TVD' Star Previews An 'Explosive' Jeremy in S5

Nobody's really having that a great time in Mystic Falls, but life was rougher than normal for Jeremy Gilbert last year. Not only did his sister become a vampire that he, temporarily, wanted to kill since he was secretly part of an ancient supernatural assassin squad, but Jeremy also died himself before being resurrected by his beloved who he then watched die for her efforts.

Season five picks up several months after Bonnie's death, which Jeremy has spent the summer keeping secret by ghostwriting text messages to everyone in her life. But, if you can believe it, that's not the biggest change in Jeremy's life this year as Steven McQueen told me when I recently visited The Vampire Diaries. Keep reading to find out how all these secrets wreak havoc on Jeremy's mental state and how the character's physical state is wreaking havoc on Steven's cookie cupboard!

ETonline: When this season picks up, where's Jeremy's head as a result of everything that happened last year?
Steven McQueen: Jeremy's lost a lot of people in his life and now he's lost, probably, the one he cared for the most. Who he even loved, I think. She sacrificed herself and at the beginning of the season, he's really feeling that burden and that weight.

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ETonline: Logistically, is a Hunter still a Hunter if he's brought back from the dead?
McQueen: Yes, The Hunter's Curse is still in effect. He's strong, but not like a vampire. He's in peak human condition ... not to toot my own horn [laughs].

ETonline: We've seen a lot of shirtless Instagram photos, so how did you approach your physical preparation this season?
McQueen: Over hiatus, it was all cake and cookies and then about one month before we started filming, nothing but meat and vegetables. I wanted to look like The Rock [laughs]. The scripts say that The Hunters are in peak human condition at all times, so I just wanted to be as strong and as in shape as I could be. But damn it, I miss my cookies.

ETonline: If Jeremy is feeling guilty for Bonnie's death, how angry is he with Katherine for triggering this series of events?
McQueen: I have some scenes coming up with Katherine. I can't say what happens, but imagine things from her perspective: she's this vampire that's hundreds of years old, insanely strong, insanely fast, who can really get away with doing these sh*tty things because there were no consequences. Now we see her, at the beginning of this season, at a place of weakness: she's human, she's vulnerable and she's pissed off.

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ETonline: It sounds like you have some sympathy for her...
McQueen: [sings] "Please allow me to introduce myself…" No, she killed me. Jeremy has no sympathy. He's kind of happy about it. Steven, in terms of observing a character, certainly does.

ETonline: Jeremy spent the summer keeping Bonnie's death a secret. He really struggled with internalizing his feelings at the start of the series, does this make him regress emotionally at all?
McQueen: That's a huge thing for him. I think any time you're keeping secrets from people on our show, you seclude. Even if you're there physically, mentally you're somewhere else, and I think people can relate to that. I know I really did.

ETonline: What's Jeremy's dynamic like with Damon this year?
McQueen: It's a much different dynamic this year. Elena goes off to college and my house was burned down, so I have to live somewhere -- and that's with Damon. We're stuck with each other. But through that, Damon kind of becomes this father-figure, which is something Jeremy is always looking for. Throughout all the seasons, he's always been searching for that kind of man in his life. But they still butt heads from time to time.

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ETonline: Is it weird for Jeremy that his "father" is having sex with his sister?
McQueen: [laughs] I mean, of course that's very awkward for them. Especially since they're living in the same house.

ETonline: Jeremy had a very public memorial service last year -- I mean, his dead face was on flyers all over town. Does the time jump erase the need to show how he deals with that?
McQueen: No, we address it in the first episode. I have to weave my way back into society, and there's a lot of awkward moments for him. It's not like he can be like, "Kidding!"

ETonline: What are you excited for the fans to see this season?
McQueen: I'm excited for everyone to see my fight scenes, they're pretty bad ass. I love preparing for those so much. And I think you're right, Jeremy imploded about his problems in the first few seasons, but this year, you'll really see him explode.

The Vampire Diaries premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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