(CBS SF) – Paul Wesley admits to experiencing jitters on his first day of directing Thursday’s episode of the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” particularly when it came to saying the word “action.”

“I had been hearing the word `action’ for 15 years, but it was always from behind-the-camera,” explained the 31-year-old actor in a recent interview. “To say it was really a weird feeling.”

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On “The Vampire Diaries,” Wesley plays Stefan Salvatore, a 165-year-old vampire with a conscience, who happens to look eternally youthful because he was “turned” at a young age.

Wesley has long been fascinated by directing, admiring the likes of Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman, and says that after developing a good relationship with the brass at the network and on the show, he got the OK to get behind the camera this fifth season.

He was convinced they’d give him a lighter episode to start with but instead was thrown a “cool” challenge.

“I did blue screens, I had stunts, I had all sorts of visual effects, I had flashbacks,” he said. “I mean it was really an action-packed episode. I was surprised at how much they gave me. I thought they were really gonna go easy on me, it was gonna be incredibly generic but it wasn’t.”

Now that he’s experienced it once, Wesley is itching to direct more.

“This is not something that is sort of a one-time thing for me … I’m gonna do more episodes next year, but I think it’s about doing other things that aren’t `Vampire Diaries.’ There’s some cable shows that film during my hiatus which I’d love to direct, so I’d love to take a swing at that.”

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He said it’s just a matter of time before he directs a feature film.

Wesley is also interested in other aspects of filmmaking. He produced and co-starred in “Before I Disappear” with Emmy Rossum and Richard Schiff, where he helped make creative decisions.

“I loved it. For me it was an incredibly gratifying experience.”

The movie won the Audience Award at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival.

Wesley, who keeps an apartment in New York, was in town to serve on the jury of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in the short film category.

“I’m really inspired by short films. It’s a fascinating medium.”

Watch “The Vampire Diaries” Thursdays @ 8:00pm on KBCW 44 Cable 12

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