Taylor Kinney tells PEOPLE why he's right for the role of Mason – and couldn't play a vampire
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

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.