10/21/2010 at 01:35 PM EDT
Is there a new bad guy in Mystic Falls?
On the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries
, fans learned that seemingly good guy Mason actually returned to his hometown at the request of evil Katherine – his girlfriend! – to track down the Lockwood family's secret. But Mason's no bad villain, says actor Taylor Kinney, just a man in love.
"I don't think he's a bad person," Kinney, 29, tells PEOPLE. "[Mason] is motivated by a love for a girl, and it makes you do bad things, [but] I don't think that Mason thinks he's a bad person."
Mason's arrival in Mystic Falls also marked a new chapter on the show – the introduction of werewolves.
"I just jump at the chance to play a werewolf," Kinney said, even though the role required shooting a nearly-nude scene that marked Mason's shape-shifting reveal
"I'm naked half the time anyway, I don't mind," he joked. "It was cool . . . to do something new and to do something fresh with whatever is going on with werewolves. That's been exciting."
Does he feel like the furry oddball on a show about vampires?
"Some of my buddies were giving me crap. When I first got the job, everyone thought I was going to be a vampire," he says.
But Kinney wouldn't feel comfortable in his own skin if he had to play a night-loving bloodsucker. "I get really dark. I'm in the sun a bunch," he says. "I don't think I can pull off the pale thing."
Maybe not, but the required stunts shouldn't be a problem.
"I grew up wanting to do stunts anyway, before I got into acting. On any job that I've had over the years, that's always been huge for me," he says. "Anything I can be a part of in terms of stunt work or fight scenes, choreography that the producers allow me, I want to do it."
The Vampire Diaries
returns tonight at 8 p.m. on The CW.