Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley has delighted his Polish fans after revealing his deep connection to Poland.
Opening up about his Polish roots on a new episode of his podcast series for Mindset, a daily self-care app, he explained how connecting with his heritage inspired him to become a performer.
The 40-year-old actor, who is a first generation American, told listeners about his early childhood visits to Warsaw were his parents and grandparents used to live.
Repeatedly travelling for four months each year until he was 16, he said he got to grow up between the two countries, revealing he used to feel “more Polish than American” which made it hard for him to fit in back in New Jersey.
Visiting Poland during the 1980s, while it was still part of the Soviet Union, he recalled his recurring visits to his grandparents’ home in Old Mokotow, and remembered their warmth.
He said: “My grandparents lived in this post-war communist building, but I got this warm, cozy, beautiful feeling of love because my grandparents were so special and so unbelievable.”
He added: “I used to go to pick mushrooms in the forest near Warsaw with my grandfather and then my grandma would make a scramble using them.
“The same with blueberries, with cream and sugar in a mason jar.”
“I have vivid memories of exploring the forest, it was wonderful. I had such a great time there.”
He also recounted how his late grandfather was blinded by a German soldier at a young age and lived through the Second World War.
He said: “When he was a kid he was walking along the side of the road and one of the German soldiers stopped and asked him for his papers.
“Something didn’t happen quick enough so he took the butt of his gun and hit him in his eye.
“He was blinded in one of his eyes as a result of that.”
He added: “My grandfather was the single greatest person I’ve met in my life.
“He had gone through war and been with the Polish resistance in a kind of guerrilla army when he was just 16 or 17 years old; with guns and bathing in the river without food.
“He is a great figure for the type of person that I wish I could strive to be”.
Born Paweł Tomasz Wasilewski, in New Jersey, United Sates, Wesley became widely known for his role as bloodsucking heartthrob Stefan Salvatore on CW’s hit The Vampire Diaries.
He then went to star on several projects such as Amira and Sam, Before I Disappear, The Late Bloomer and most recently as James T. Kirk in the Paramount+ reboot of Star Trek.
But he said that his desire and inspiration for pursuing a career in entertainment were influenced by his heritage.
He said: “I remember I would speak Polish to my friends accidentally and I didn’t feel like I fit in New Jersey.
“I kinda got the sense I needed to find something else.
“I think the reason I fell into acting in many ways is because I kind of had a deep sense of different cultures and I had an objective view of people in Eastern Europe versus America.
That made me view characters objectively in a good way”.
Simultaneously, the actor has turned to producing and directing as well as creating his own straight bourbon whiskey with his Vampire Diaries’ costar Ian Somerhalder.
Ending with a message to his millions of followers he said: “Elders exist to teach us things, and we are just less interest in learning the hard way, which is causing us to become disconnected from our roots.”