DANIEL GILLIES: A TRUE ORIGINAL
That’s the one word Daniel Gillies uses to describe his past year.
“It’s been crazy. I don’t know how I’m still around, honestly,” Gillies tells me over the phone while shooting on location for The CW’s The Originals. With a charming New Zealand accent, the actor says he has nothing to complain about, though. Indeed, the past year has been rewarding for the humble actor. The Originals has been a big payoff for all involved.
For the unfamiliar, Gillies played the mysterious vamp Elijah Mikaelson on The CW runaway hit The Vampire Diaries. Gillies, who was introduced in season two of Diaries along with his television siblings, Klaus and Rebekah (deliciously by Joseph Morgan and Claire Holt), as the reigning supreme vamps known as “The Originals,” or the first vampires ever created on earth.
The Originals, now having earned the cult status of its predecessor, was picked up last fall for a full season.
“I got the sense pretty immediately that I thought he was somebody that could be pretty interesting, especially in a contemporary tale of vampires, sort of an old world vampire enter into the TV atmosphere,” Gillies says of his alter ego. Knowing that something clicked with his character – as well as with his costars and the overall dynamic of the series – it didn’t come much as a surprise to him that Diaries producer/writer Julie Plec had gotten the ball rolling for The Originals spin-off, which follows Elijah, Klaus, and Rebekah’s adventures in New Orleans with a coven of witches and the vampire culture of the Big Easy.
Without a sense of ego behind the words, Gillies says, “I even said to my manager, who all but laughed at me, that I think this is a different role for me. I think this is going to have some longevity. I don’t know why, but I feel like this is a character we’re going to be doing for a while.” Gillies has also been involved with another series, a Canadian medical drama called Saving Hope, where he still continues to be a regular cast member and divides his time globetrotting from location to location.
With his hectic work schedule, Gillies tries to decompress as much as possible (when he has the time), and this includes his love for Muay Thai kickboxing.
There’s also a new edition to the Gillies family; he and wife Rachael Leigh Cook just had their first daughter back in September. Gillies calls his girls “the engines of support in my life.” Reflecting on the arrival of his daughter has given him a new outlook on life and work: “It does give me a new perspective. It makes me realize how unimportant I am, and I mean that positively. It makes you want to double down your efforts. My daughter’s arrival into the world steered me back into what makes you happiest.” Some of this double downing includes working on more personal projects; he’s currently writing his second feature film. And the first movie he directed, Broken Kingdom (which starred his wife), enjoyed a run on Showtime last year.
Before we wrap up our conversation, I modestly gush over one of his older films, 2005’s Bollywood-meets-Hollywood musical Bride and Prejudice (if you haven’t heard of it, Netflix it immediately), and he couldn’t be happier while telling me about his experience making the Jane Austen-inspired romp. “I had a wonderful time,” he reflects. “It’s a charming little movie that introduced me India, which I must return to.”
And as The Originals wraps up a memorable last act for its inaugural season, Gillies says he is just as in the dark as the viewers, but his sense tells him that there’s a whole regime of villains that are about to be revealed; the dynamics are always changing.
PHOTOGRAPHY AMANDA ELKINS (WWW.AMANDAELKINS.COM)
STYLIST KIMMY ERIN KERTES (WWW.KIMMYERIN.COM)
GROOMING MELISSA DEZARATE USING ORIBE HAIRCARE AND CLÉ DE PEAU BEAUTÉ
SPECIAL THANKS TO HEATHER CATANIA AND CHRIS GALYA
Production Bello Media Group | WORDS BY SCOTT YOUNGBAUER