At once pixie-ish and masculine with a pair of piercing blue eyes that seem to glow even while under the bright spotlights of Hollywood, former top-list model-turned-actor Ian Somerhalder has the unique looks to make it in both worlds. Add to that an introspective philosophy toward acting, which he claims is a unique opportunity to explore his true inner motivations and feelings, and you have all the ingredients necessary to create one of the most sought-after young actors of the new millennium. A native of Covington, LA, who spent much of his childhood enjoying such outdoor activities as training horses, Somerhalder would soon join up with the school's drama club and make many stage appearances with the local theater group. Encouraged by his mother to pursue a career in modeling, Somerhalder's career was soon ablaze with many summers spent in New York City. Though he would shy away from modeling in junior high school to focus more on academics and athletics, an opportunity to travel Europe while modeling was too much to resist and the worldly youngster was soon posing for the likes of Guess?, Versace, Calvin Klein, and Dolce and Gabanna. Settling in New York at age 17 to devote himself to acting under the tutelage of William Esper proved a fateful move that found the developing thespian eschewing his modeling career entirely. Though his feature debut as an extra in Black and White (1998) would eventually end up on the cutting-room floor, his presence caught the attention of a visiting talent agent who immediately signed Somerhalder for representation. After gaining exposure on the television series The Young Americans (2000), the up-and-comer would appear in the made-for-MTV drama Anatomy of a Hate Crime (also 2000) before returning to features, role fully intact, in 2001's Life as a House. Reluctant to discuss his modeling career lest he be considered just another pretty face, Somerhalder turned up in Changing Hearts (2002) before accepting a prominent role in director Roger Avery's edgy teen drama The Rules of Attraction. But it wasn't until he got Lost on an island in 2004 that Somerhalder found stardom, as he played a plane-crash survivor secretly in love with his spoiled brat of a step-sister. Although his character was killed off in the first season, the time-bending nature of the show didn't rule out appearances in future seasons. Film work followed, as well as a racy (and undressed) role on HBO's Tell Me You Love Me. In 2009, Somerhalder once again landed steady series work, playing a not-so-nice vampire on the CW's hit Vampire Diaries. Off-screen, he is an animal lover and has even filmed PSAs for Louisiana's Humane Society.
Biography by Jason Buchanan
- Trained horses as a kid.
- Began modeling at age 10 and had a successful international career that included work with Versace, Gucci and Calvin Klein.
- Made his television debut in CBS's Now and Again in 1999.
- Produced and starred in the 2004 short Recess.
- Appeared in the 2005 off-Broadway comedy Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.
- Active in animal-rights issues, and also helped efforts to clean up the 2010 oil spill in his native state of Louisiana.
- Launched The Ian Somerhalder Foundation in 2010, which focuses on environmental concerns.