If you\'re looking for a guy who\'s the total package, we found him: 26-year-old Chris Wood, whose most recent role as the villainous Kai Parker in
The Vampire Diaries has turned him into Hollywood\'s hottest new bad boy. But don\'t let his character fool you: In real life he\'s a marathon-running, theater-loving, baseball-playing heartthrob who has a whole lot more to him than you\'ll ever see on screen.
The Ohio-native isn\'t new to the acting scene. Before his roles on The Carrie Diaries and Girls, you\'d have to buy tickets to the theater to see him put on his best performance. "My first role was a rat in Pied Piper of Hamelin when I was six years old," he tells us. "My older sister was really into theater and dance, so there\'s always the sibling rivalry element of growing up. I fell into it that way. It\'s something I\'ve done my whole life."
That first role was just the beginning. After growing up making stop-motion home movies with friends featuring G.I. Joe and an occasional appearance by his sister\'s Barbies, not to mention a short-lived series in high school called Chris Wood: Action Man, it was pretty clear being an actor was in his genes and he figured out a way to make his dream a reality. "I grew up in Ohio and my family members weren\'t artists or anything, so you have to find some sort of path to get to where you want to be," Chris says. "I didn\'t know anyone who had gone from Ohio and worked in Hollywood, so at a very early age I sort of had to figure it out."
Chris decided to go to Elon University in North Carolina to get his foot in the door, and it didn\'t take long for him to catch his big break. "I knew you needed training to become a skilled theater actor, and to get training you had to go to school," he says. "To get noticed in the film and television world, the thing I saw that was consistent was if you made it in New York you could transition opposed to going straight to LA and getting swallowed up in the industry."
After several roles during college, Chris scored the part of Melchoir in the national tour of Spring Awakening where he performed in eight shows a week in over 60 cities. Then a couple years later, it was on to film. We loved him as Adam in The Carrie Diaries, but his new role as the lead antagonist in Vampire Diaries is his most fun one yet. "Kai is totally different from my other roles—being the bad guy is always great. The bad guys have all the fun. They really do. We get all the best lines," he says. "Especially getting to play a psychotic character—he\'s so different from me."
With Kai being kind of a crazy person and all, it turns out fans of the show who meet Chris in real life are surprised by the down-to-earth sweetheart they find. "I was in Florida at this convention and the thing I heard most often was \'You\'re not at all what I was expecting you to be like.\' I\'m always thinking, \'Well I hope not. I hope you didn\'t think I was going to be a nut-job,\'" Chris says. "He just ticks in a totally different way than I do. The material is very dark, but I really get to play the whole package: A comical character who\'s also intensely villainous and terrifying. It\'s a blast."
When he gets a break from filming, the entire cast has a handful of things they like to do off set in Atlanta, Georgia. And knowing this guy, of course they\'re a little artsy. "They have this thing called the BeltLine in Atlanta. It\'s a bike path that goes around the entire city," Chris says. "It\'s very scenic—they have all these cool local art projects along the side of the path: big scultpures, windmills, and pendulums that move. So we bike that some weekends when it\'s nice. There are also always great concerts, food, and music. We also love game nights—we play a lot of charades. And Cards Against Humanity."
Being a baseball fan for basically his entire life, Chris also made time to keep playing one of his favorite sports. "I play rec softball sort of religiously. I\'m a huge baseball fan," he tells us. "When I lived in New York City, I\'d go to a Yankees game every week. I played until college, so I joined a couple leagues when I moved to Atlanta. That\'s been fun when I\'m not working."
If you haven\'t noticed, this guy\'s pretty cool: From acting to singing and being an athlete, there\'s not much he doesn\'t do. So if you just became even more of a fan—which, let\'s be honest, how could you not?—don\'t worry: This is just the beginning for the adorable Pied Piper rat who\'s quickly becoming one of Hollywood\'s most covetable stars.