It must be difficult to be the envy of thousands of “The Vampire Diaries” fans, but Dawn Olivieri seems to be handling it beautifully.

Ian [Somerhalder] is a nice person and really cares about how you feel and makes sure that you’re comfortable,” Olivieri said. “And he’s not such a bad looker, so it’s not the worst situation that I’ve ever had to be in.”

Olivieri is talking about the episode “Daddy Issues,” in which Somerhalder’s rakish vampire Damon Salvatore gets Olivieri’s reporter Andie Star out of her clothes and into a bubble bath—without compelling her.

He does use the vampire hypnosis to keep her there, after confessing how much he likes to kill people, and then taking a healthy bite of her neck. The scene had fans squealing, but for Olivieri, who has been friends with Somerhalder for a long time, it was just in a day’s work.

“If you have to be in a bath for six hours with anyone, you’re pretty much ready to get out,” she said, laughing. “We were so pruned. And he would try to touch me with his toes on the leg! You get that weird, creepy feeling when his ‘pruney’ hands are touching you. So we were having a prune battle in the tub.

“We had a good time; it was a lot of fun.”

Olivieri is having a lot of fun with the men in her screen life lately.

The actress recently finished work on “House of Lies,” a darkly comic pilot for Showtime. (UPDATE APRIL 7: Showtime has ordered a 12-episode Season 1 of the series to begin production this summer.) Olivieri plays Monica, the ex-wife of Don Cheadle’s character, Marty. Monica runs the top management consultant firm in their city, while Marty works for the No. 2 agency.

Unlike Andie, Monica holds most of the power in the relationship with Marty. But despite her professional success, Monica pops pills, feels guilty that her son lives with her ex, and, according to Olivieri, does a lot of crazy things.

“She’s funny. She’s definitely going to be extremely watchable,” Olivieri said, adding that the character is a lot like other anti-heroes on Showtime series such as “Nurse Jackie” who do incorrigible things. “But you still love her. You still care about her.”

It’s a plum part for Olivieri, a former model from Florida who has been acting for only about five years. She’s done guest roles on “How I Met Your Mother,” “Entourage,” “Stargate Atlantis” and “Cold Case,” among many others, before landing the part of the tattooed carnie Lydia on “Heroes.” Since then, she’s appeared on one episode of “True Blood” as werewolf Alcide’s sister, and as a recurring guest on “The Vampire Diaries.”

“House of Lies,” if Showtime decides to pursue it as a series, would be her first leading role on TV. She credits Cheadle, with whom she screen tested for the role, with helping her land it. “That and the fact that I’m perfect for it,” she joked.

“Don is a really great person, and it was really fun to have that test with him,” she said. “I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of it at such an early time in my career. It’s like a dream come true for an actress like me.”

And as for “Vampire Diaries,” Andie Star will be back in the last part of the season (it returns April 7), but Olivieri isn’t sure what lies in store for the bevamped beauty. At the time of our interview, she was headed back to Atlanta to film, but hadn’t seen any script.

Damon’s former lover, the vindictive vamp Katherine, is back on the scene. I suggested the women might spar over Damon.

“I don’t imagine a clash between those two,” Olivieri said. “Oh, wouldn’t that be a good episode? Maybe my time is coming. Or her time, I don’t know.”

Olivieri talked more about vampires, her excitement about "House of Lies," and the joy of guest-starring as the sister of your ex-boyfriend's character.

Dawn Olivieri is hopeful her Showtime pilot, "House of Lies," will get picked up. (Chad Blockley photo)


I have to ask you if you kept any tattoos from “Heroes?”
Only on my memory. No, I did not keep any. Although, I definitely seriously considered it, but ... after sitting in a chair and watching Milo [Ventimiglia] every morning come in and cover his tattoo that he was having removed—he has a star on the inside of his left arm that he was having removed—and him telling me, “It’s not worth it.” Gosh, [Milo] coming in early every single day to have this thing covered; it’s the worst. So that’s what sticks in your mind when you consider getting tattoos.

I’ll tell you what, my favorite one is one of the sparrows, the birds that I had on my forearm. Those would’ve been the ones I would’ve considered, but alas.

But you weren’t going to do it. Nothing’s permanent on you?
No. I think it’s better to be a blank canvas when this is your job.

That’s probably a good idea. On Twitter, I said I was going to talk to you and the first three responses were, “How is it to take a bath with Ian?”
Wow, everyone loves that question.

Which is probably the most asked question you’ve had, huh?
Yeah, well, I’m sure there are a lot of girls that would’ve loved to have been on my side of the tub, right? Is that the consensus? Well, you know what? We had a great time. It was a six-hour long bath. I don’t know how, it’s only a matter of how much you like someone, if you have to be in a bath for six hours with anyone, you’re pretty much ready to get out. But we had a really fun time. We’d joke a lot. He has a really great sense of humor, so we were having a really good time.