"You need something light when you've just been talking about and living death all day," says Wood of his latest gig

By Chancellor Agard
Updated April 19, 2016 04:25 AM
Credit: Justin Stephens/The CW

Working on The CW’s outbreak drama Containment has definitely turned Chris Wood into a bit of a germaphobe.

“I definitely think of germs often when I touch something, and I think about how hundreds of people touched it,” Wood, who played big bad Kai in the sixth season of The Vampire Diaries, tells PEOPLE. “When I fly, I think I’m more conscious of people sneezing and coughing next to me than I was before.”

He adds, “I think I probably should do more Purelling.”

Containment, which premieres Tuesday, is about an large area of Atlanta being quarantined after a mysterious and deadly epidemic breaks out. Wood plays Jake Riley, a police officer that gets trapped in the cordoned area with a single mom with a group of school children, his best friend’s girlfriend who is also his ex and thousands of other potentially infected people.

As Jake, the 28-year-old actor has a front-row seat to the carnage caused by the “disgusting” virus (there’s a lot of bleeding) that’s plaguing downtown Atlanta.

“I think he [Jake] sees more death and is around more death than anyone else,” says Wood. “It’s hard to look at that death and not go home and think about it and feel sad when I’m reading the New York Times and I see articles about the Zika virus. It resonates with you because it is a real thing.”

The role took Wood to some dark places on a regular basis because being stuck in the infected area forced his character to also work through some of his own personal demons. Thankfully, the Carrie Diaries alum could turn to comedy (and exercise) to help him unwind at the end of the day.

“You need something light when you’ve just been talking about and living death all day,” says Wood, who admits he wasn’t into Netflix one-hour comedy specials until he started working on this show.

He’s currently obsessed with Saturday Night Live alum John Mulaney. “I think he is just out of this world, and his special New in Town is, to me, the quintessential comedy right now, especially in a younger generation of comics,” he says, adding that Amy Schumer, Louis C.K. and Iliza Shlesinger are also favorites.

Containment premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.