08/10/2009 at 12:00 PM EDT
Edward Cullen, Bill Compton … and Stefan Salvatore? There's a new vampire in Tinseltown and he's got the looks and chops – literally! – to give Robert Pattinson
a run for his money.
Starting this fall, the 27-year-old hottie appears as gentle bloodsucker Stefan in the new CW series Vampire Diaries
based on the bestselling teen lit novels by L.J. Smith.
"I did a lot of research," Wesley told PEOPLE of preparing for the coveted role. "I was Googling vampires."
Here are five things any fang fanatic should know about the latest vamp to rule the night:Don't Call Him an Edward Cullen WannabeVampire Diaries
follows 150-year-old vampire Stefan as he falls for a teen girl named Elena (played by Degrassi
's Nina Dobrev). Sound familiar? Wesley assured that the show is not a "Twilight
rip-off." The teen book series was actually published a decade before Stephenie Meyer's wildly-successful Twilight
saga, and features an added twis t– Stefan battles his villainous vampire brother Damon (played by Lost
hunk Ian Somerhalder) for Elena's heart.
He Never Wanted to Be an Actor
Growing up, the New Jersey native was more of a jock than a thespian. "I played ice hockey obsessively for 14 years of my life," he said. After being forced into doing school plays, Wesley hired an agent "as a fluke" and successfully began landing roles. "I got very lucky and I don't know how."
He Has Fangs … Sort Of
"You'd think it would have [helped get me the role] but they didn't notice it until I was on set," Wesley said of his naturally pointy teeth. "Then they all were like, 'Oh my god, what are the odds?!'"
He Has a Werewolf Past
No stranger to playing mythical creatures, Wesley starred as a teen wolf on the short-lived sci-fi series Wolf Lake
. "[The show] became sort of a cult thing," he said.
He's the Coolest Big Brother Ever
Wesley counts his two youngest sisters, ages 11 and 13, as his biggest fans. "They have read all of the Vampire Diaries
books," he said. "They are my only fans actually. Them and my mom."
We have a feeling that won't be true for long. Vampire Diaries
premieres Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. on the CW.