The CW’s TV take-over begins in earnest with their eagerly anticipated Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals – airing now on Syfy in the UK – which follows the original clan of bloodsuckers in their New Orleans bastion. We catch up with actor Daniel Gillies – who plays the dutiful Elijah, older brother of Klaus and eldest of the clan – to find out more…
When did you first find out about the supernatural spin-off to The Vampire Diaries?
The writing was on the wall for a while. I believe in [The Vampire Diaries and The Originals executive producer] Julie Plec more than anyone. When she says she’s going to do something, it comes into being – and that’s why the news of this show didn’t come as a blindsiding shock to me. It was something that she always talked about.
When Joseph Morgan first came to The Vampire Diaries and we did some of our original scenes together – no pun intended – I remember seeing Julie watching it and saying, “This has to be a show.” She was sitting there looking very giddy, so even back then I knew this show was going to happen. To be honest, I didn’t think it would be so rapid, though. Julie thinks this has taken a long time, but it took less than two years to move from inception to conception and realization. That’s very quick in my eyes.
What can fans expect from the first season of The Originals?
The first season is a little like a war. In a sense, this mystical show is all about survival and we’re heading to New Orleans to reclaim our former kingdom. That’s going to require a lot of strategy, as well as a clever usurping of the power from Marcel.
What about romance? Will we see much romance in The Originals?
That’s a question for Julie Plec. I can’t say for myself. I know that Elijah said goodbye to Katherine, and I know that the fans adored Caroline and Klaus together. Perhaps I’m a little bit more brutal and cynical, but I feel that these relationships are made to be broken. However, from the amount of venom that I’ve received online for being even momentarily dismissive about the Caroline relationship, I’ve learned that talking about this stuff doesn’t win over fans.
When it comes to romantic relationships in the new show, what would you like to see happen?
Personally, I think they are going to have to create four new relationships for these characters. It’s a whole new world, so who knows whether or not the Caroline and Klaus relationship will continue? Or even the Katherine and Elijah relationship. Truthfully, I’m just excited to see who they bring into the show. There will definitely be romantic moments. You can’t have a Julie Plec show and not have couples within it. She adores that stuff. She’ll never exclude it from her writing.
Which of the women of The Originals will be attracted to Elijah?
That’s a really interesting question. Perhaps Sophie Deveraux [played by Daniella Pineda]? Or Leah Pipes’ character, Camille? I don’t know. It’s hard to say at this point. That’s for Julie to master and design. It’s difficult for me to say because I’m a married guy, so I don’t ever think, ‘Oh, I’d like to see my character get with this person or that person.’ I don’t look at it objectively. They will definitely hook Elijah up with somebody at some point, that’s for damn sure. There’s talk of him getting with Phoebe’s character [Hayley] as well, but who knows what will happen? We’ll just have to wait and see.
How much do you enjoy working on romantic scenes?
That’s another really good question. In truth, it’s quite mechanical. I never dated an actress before my wife [Rachael Leigh Cook]. I used to date women who would get jealous of that stuff, which was very odd because when you’re with an actor, they understand that it’s the most unsexy thing you could ever do. It doesn’t matter who you’re working with; it’s really not a turn-on. Nina Dobrev is a beautiful woman and, in theory, to make out with her should be a pleasure no matter whom you’re married to or what your codes are. The problem is that when you go and do this stuff in front of the cameras, it’s a complete passion killer.
How do you approach the saucier scenes on a show like The Originals?
Honestly, and this is going to sound very ‘actor-y’, but it’s just like approaching dance steps. It’s literally like choreographing a fight. You talk it through, “You’re going to grab me here, I’m going to kiss you here and you’re going to drop there, and then we’re going to go to the pillows… After that, you’re going to pull off my shirt.” It’s a dance routine. You’ll be in the middle of a scene and you’ll hear someone shout, “Just tilt your chin up because the light is not hitting it properly.” Romantic scenes are the opposite of sexy. I enjoy the interplay and the wooing of someone because that can be a real energy that you can tap into as a character. As for the physical act of making out in front of the cameras, it’s incredibly choreographed and unsexy.
Do you prefer working on action sequences?
I like them both. To be honest, I just like to be able to successfully do a scene. In my entire body of work, I think I’m pleased with about two scenes. That’s what I love about being an actor; you’re always trying to do a wonderful scene. If I do anything well, I’m pleased because I mostly think of my career as a series of mess-ups!
As a character, Elijah is often straight-laced and serious. Would you like to see a more humorous side emerge in The Originals?
Personally, I think Elijah’s always got a twinkle of humour in his eye. Everything he does has humour. He’s more controlled than me and more economical with his movement, his voice, his poise, and everything – but he always has a joke in his eyes. I love that about him. I hope that’s what he continues to do.
What has surprised you the most about the baby storyline in the show?
Interestingly, Julie Plec was talking about werewolf and vampire hormones during one of our interviews recently. She said that when you’re a werewolf, you don’t turn during a full moon when you’re pregnant, which is a very interesting fact. I did not know that. That’s a little tidbit right there! That was very surprising to me, but it’s also a great fact I never knew about before.
The Originals is airing now on Syfy, Tuesdays at 10pm. The Vampire Diaries Season 4 is available on DVD from 26 August 2013, pre-order it now for £17.51 from Amazon.co.uk.