Ian Somerhalder: What Fans Should Know About The Vampire Diaries Star

Ian Somerhalder Damon Salvatore The Vampire Diaries The Originals The CW

Ian Somerhalder has become one of the most popular TV actors of the 21st century thanks to playing Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries and Boone Carlyle on Lost, and now Dr. Luther Swann on V-Wars. But there's a lot more to know about the actor, whose career actually started back in the 1980s.

Here are some of the most important facts and trivia that Ian Somerhalder fans should know.

How Old Is Ian Somerhalder?

The perpetually youthful-looking 5'9"-tall Ian Somerhalder was born on December 8, 1978 -- which finally puts him past the point of playing teenage roles. Lost premiered in September 2004 when he was 25. The Vampire Diaries started in September 2009, when Somerhalder was 30, and ended in March 2017 when he was 38. Now Somerhalder is finally old enough to play a father on screen. He said he was drawn to his Netflix's V-Wars character Dr. Luther Swann because Swann is a normal, good man -- a dad and a husband -- as opposed to a not-so-good vampire like Damon Salvatore.

Where Is Ian Somerhalder From?

Ian Somerhalder is a Southern boy from Covington, Louisiana, which is about 40 miles from New Orleans. It's a perfect area to grow up in, if your future includes the mysterious and supernatural. Interestingly enough, The Vampire Diaries taped most of its episodes in Covington, Georgia, which doubles for the show's Mystic Falls, Virginia. Somerhalder's parents -- a massage therapist and an independent building contractor-- raised Ian, his older brother Robert and younger sister Robyn in nearby Mandeville.

Ian Somerhalder has stayed close to his roots. He grew up loving the wilderness in the area and returned with the Ian Somerhalder Foundation to buy nearly 100 acres along the bayou for preservation and other projects serving the needs of animals and the community, per NOLA. He also supported his family when they opened McClains pizzeria in Mandeville, with another pizzeria in Hailey, Idaho. Ian and his brother Bob Somerhalder also opened a furniture business Built Of Barnwood.

Young Americans cast

How Did Ian Somerhalder Start His Career?

Ian Somerhalder started his career as a model at age 10. As he explained to Bend Weekly in a 2007 interview:

My parents worked their butts off to send us to Catholic schools and provide us with everything a kid could ask for. We had all the toys and advantages, ranging from motorcycles to horses. But the truth is that my parents weren't making lots of money, giving my mother the idea of making me a model at the age of 10. I think it's because all her friends said I could do it.

Ian Somerhalder said his mother used every penny to get an apartment in New York for three summers.

By the time I was 11, I was signed to a three-year contract by a big modeling agency and making more money an hour than people with Ph.D.s - it was really scary. At 16, I was broke because I had spent every dime after the agency had taken out their huge expense fees.

However, while modeling made him a lot of money (before fees), he didn't find it "intellectually satisfying." He decided to study acting with William Esper in New York. And he got pretty lucky -- after a couple of guest shots in L.A., he did four TV pilots and all four were picked up.

Ian Somerhalder's early TV career includes single episode roles on The Big Easy (1997) and Now and Again (1999) before landing a main role on Young Americans, a spinoff of Dawson's Creek that lasted one season. Somerhalder has had guest roles in several shows, from CSI to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and also played the role of Adam Knight across six episodes of Smallville. On the film side, he picked up a substantial role in the 2001 movie Life as a House and an even bigger role in the 2002 movie The Rules of Attraction.

Ian Somerhalder shot to fame with Lost as the ill-fated Boone Carlyle. He returned as a special guest star after Season 1 in episodes across Seasons 2, 3, and 6. Lost ended in 2010, but by then Ian Somerhalder was already cast in The Vampire Diaries.

Is Ian Somerhalder Single?

Nope! Ian Somerhalder is a happily married man. He's also kept things in the vampire family. Ian Somerhalder famously dated his The Vampire Diaries co-star Nina Dobrev for about three years before they broke up in 2013. Now they are friends, and Dobrev is also friends with Somerhalder's wife, Nikki Reed.

Nikki Reed, who was born 10 years after Ian Somerhalder in 1988, played vampire Rosalie Hale in The Twilight Saga. Somerhalder and Reed were married April 26, 2015 in Malibu, California, and they welcomed their first child, daughter Bodhi Soleil, on July 25, 2017. It's clear that after several years together, they are still very much in love; check out how Somerhalder celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary:

A photo posted by on

Nikki Reed was married to American Idol alum Paul McDonald before marrying Ian Somerhalder. Just a few months after her split with McDonald, Reed began dating Somerhalder. Somerhalder and Reed got married less than four months after they got engaged. Somerhalder and Reed were friends for years before they started dating, but the pair and Nina Dobrev were quick to dispel any rumors that there was any bad blood or betrayal between them.

Where Does Ian Somerhalder Live?

Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed are based in Los Angeles, but they love to travel -- even when they don't have to travel for things like his Netflix show V-Wars, which filmed in Ontario, Canada. In December 2018, Nikki Reed told People they are a "big camping family" and "probably spend 100 days out of 365 in our Airstream camping." She said they live to travel down to Joshua Tree and New Mexico and all over the place.

In 2015, Variety reported that Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed had paid more than $2.85 million for a contemporary home in Venice, CA -- and it was sold by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. Apparently the 3-bedroom, 3.5 bath, 2,800-square-foot home is "Just off the trendy, spendy and hipster-swarmed Abbot Kinney shopping and dining district."

The Vampire Diaries Elena and Damon Nina Dobrev Ian Somerhalder

How Much Money Did Ian Somerhalder Make From The Vampire Diaries?

Ian Somerhalder has made a pretty penny from his lengthy career thus far. According to a 2010 TV Guide report on the top TV earners, Somerhalder made $40,000 per episode of The Vampire Diaries. There were 22 episodes for the first seven seasons of Vampire Diaries, and 16 in the final Season 8. He's been given an estimate net worth of $8 million, but it's not clear if that also includes his pay for producing and directing episodes. It was also posted before he joined Netflix's V-Wars. Either way, he should have enough money to support his family and causes.

What Does Ian Somerhalder Do When He's Not Acting?

In addition to acting, Ian Somerhalder also directs. He directed three episodes of The Vampire Diaries and he directed an episode of his upcoming Netflix series V-Wars. He was also a producer in his final season on The Vampire Diaries.

Ian Somerhalder is also deeply involved in environmental causes, and causes that support animal welfare. He's a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and was part of the Emmy-winning 2014 documentary on global warming, Years of Living Dangerously. In 2013, he told Us Weekly if he wasn't an actor, he'd be a marine biologist.

He launched the Ian Somerhalder Foundation in 2010 "to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures." The Louisiana native was inspired to launch the foundation after witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the horrible aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill. Somerhalder's wife Nikki Reed is equally passionate in environmentalism and animal rights, and she's the Vice President of ISF.

Ian Somerhalder Wants A Nobel Prize - For Someone Else

In 2011, Ian Somerhalder explained to E! that he had flown to Zimbabwe for a documentary after wrapping that year's season of The Vampire Diaries.

I met a scientist named Allan Savory. He's figured out a way to reverse climate change, literally through agriculture. So I'm directing this documentary about him with Geoff Shotz, our camera director on Vampire Diaries...The goal of the movie is to win Allan Savory a Nobel Prize for agriculture, which has never been done.

Ian Somerhalder noted that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth didn't mention how agriculture contributes to climate change, so he wanted to change that. However, he emphasized that he has no political ambitions himself:

I'm never running for office. I just love this part of it. I love being able to speak to members of Congress or members of the Senate and floating on either side, because it takes all of us. It's going to take both of them.

Ian Somerhalder should have plenty of other adventures ahead, and fans can follow his progress on big, small, and streaming screens -- as well as social media. In the meantime, keep up with CinemaBlend for more on all things TV, film, and pop culture.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.