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An Interview with Daniel Gillies (Elijah, 'The Vampire Diaries')


An Interview with Daniel Gillies (Elijah, 'The Vampire Diaries')
Photo: Quantrell Colbert/The CW © The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
For more than a century, people have been fascinated with vampires. From books to movies to television series, each and every single vampire story is uniquely different and has a different set of rules for these creatures of the night (i.e. being out in sunlight, how they can be killed, etc.) -- however, no matter how you slice it, there is always something dark, mysterious and sexy about vampires.

The CW's hit drama series The Vampire Diaries spins yet another irresistible tale, but they took it a giant step deeper with the introduction of the "original vampires" -- the very first vampires in existence. Having lived more than 1,000 years, you can imagine how complex these characters are and therefore, the actor playing the role must be of the highest caliber.

Daniel Gillies plays Elijah, one of the originals, on The Vampire Diaries and I think the producers could not have chosen a better actor for this intense role. Gillies began his career on stage before taking a leap to the big screen in the blockbuster hit Spider-Man 2. Over the next few years, Gillies appeared in several movies and television dramas before landing his role in The Vampire Diaries.

Gillies currently stars in the NBC medical drama series Saving Hope as hotshot surgeon Dr. Joel Goran alongside Erica Durance. I had the pleasure of speaking with this incredibly talented actor about his roles in both series, how he got started in the biz and stepping behind the camera.

Q: Growing up in New Zealand, how did you wind up in the business?

"Thanks to a series of wonderful accidents, I ended up always being involved in musicals, dramas and theatrical productions. It was just a natural progression and became more than just a fantasy for me."

Q: I understand you've done quite a bit of theater, do you hope to return to the stage?

"Yes, but to be honest with you, I'm a little intimidated because I haven't done it in years. I haven't done it since 2000 and as time goes by, it frightens me. While all the fundamental elements remain the same, it is a whole different animal."

Q: Can we expect to see Elijah next season?

"I'd like to and I'd say there is a strong likelihood that I'm returning."

Q: What has been your favorite episode or scene involving your character from TVD?

"I liked the beginning, where there was more mystery to my character. He was more humorous and ruthless all at once and I feel like the show desperately needed that when I came in. He was an antagonist that was a deep threat to them and I feel like I filled that role and responsibility. I loved working with Nina, Paul, Ian and Joseph Morgan -- I have such good friendships with them and can't think of one particular scene I enjoyed over another."

Q: If you were a vampire, which ability would you most like to have?

"There's something exciting to me about the idea of time. I like the idea that over several lifetimes, you can master so many things. I think the depressing part about being a human or a living creature is that you're going to die and the thing we love about vampires is their perpetual youth. It is a stunning and beautiful idea that you can achieve mastery of several hundred disciplines over the course of centuries."

Q: Tell us about Saving Hope...

"Charlie Harris, who is played by Michael Shanks, is an orthopedic surgeon who is about to marry Alex Reid, and in the pilot they are in a car accident on their way to getting married. Charlie is thrust into a coma and from there he can see people who are passing between life and death."

Q: And your character...

"My character is Dr. Joel Goren, who arrives the day of the accident. He is also an ex-lover of Alex Reid and is trying to provide support for his friend, but at the same time, he is trying to create roots for himself. He's very worldly and experienced and probably technically brilliant. He's a bit of a cowboy and I think his ego gets more involved in his surgeries than it ought to at times. I think one of the big lessons he's learning is how to sacrifice his own needs in order to serve another. He's a bit of a rolling stone and hasn't stayed in one place for too long, I don't think he has ever found a place he can describe as home both personally and professionally. We don't know much about him yet other than his history with Alex."

Q: Did you do anything special to prepare for the role?

"Not really, but it's the first time I have been able to use my own voice. You'll laugh at this -- people are criticizing my accent, saying it sounds fake! This is my real voice."

Q: You've also appeared in a number of other television series and movies, which role do you think challenged you most as an actor?

"I made a movie called Broken Kingdom and took three years off acting to do that and found it to be my most challenging role."

Q: You also wrote and directed your own movie, do you plan to get behind the camera again?

"100% for the rest of my life -- as often as I can. It's one of the greatest feelings. I'm writing my next movie right now. I love, love actors and their aren't nearly enough directors out there who know how to talk to an actor. I don't say that lightly; there aren't many directors who can talk to an actor. I feel so spoiled on the show right now because it has been director after director who know how to create scenes with actors. It's stunning."

Q: Do you watch any TV shows on a regular basis?

"I don't, but I've got to make more of an effort to do so. I've got a good friend here from out of town and he's always telling me to watch The Killing, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. All of those shows sound amazing, but for some reason I'm just resistant."

Q: Do you use Twitter to keep in touch with your fans?

"Yes, I use Twitter and my handle is @danieljgillies. I think Twitter is one of the most amazing social developments in the last 100 years. I love the fact that communities can immediately find one another and that it has power to do really wonderful things."

Q: What would you like to say to the fans?

"Thank you. Thank you for coming along with me on the ride. It's amazing that anybody would support my work or give me the kind of celebration that I've received, especially in the last two years. It's incredibly humbling and I'm glad that for some reason that what I do pleases people."
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