Daniel Gilles: Elijah Is Ready To Snap!

by Jarett Wieselman 2:14 PM PDT, October 04, 2013
Photo: CW

Julie Plec has become well-known, and incredibly beloved, for placing story above everything else. Under the watch of a less-confident storyteller, Vicky, Jenna, Alaric and countless other fan favorites (also Plec pals) would likely still be alive on The Vampire Diaries. And on last night's premiere of The Originals, the showrunner extraordinaire proved she will be equally bold on the spin-off by taking one of the show's lead characters out of the equation!

Yes, in the hour's closing moments Klaus daggered his brother Elijah and freaked out fans in a big way! What does this mean for the future of Elijah? To find out, I chatted with star Daniel Gillies about the personal reasons for this deadly development, how Elijah factors in to future episodes and what he's excited for fans to see with The Originals!

ETonline: What was your reaction to finding out Klaus would be daggering Elijah in the closing moment of last night's premiere?
Daniel Gillies: It's funny, I remember thinking there was no way they'd ever be able to stake me again without there being a slightly comical effect, but when I read it, I thought it set a really great tone for the show. There's a sense of ruthlessness in that moment. It reveals what a mercenary Klaus is going to be, politically-speaking. Certainly Klaus' quest was going to be for power, and I think Julie wanted that to be at the forefront thematically. Essentially, no one is to be trusted. At any time there could be a clandestine plot, a deep betrayal and anyone could be traitorous at that moment.

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ETonline: Was taking you out of the equation necessitated by previous obligations to your other show, Canadian medical drama Saving Hope?
Gillies: 100 percent. It was built to accommodate the maelstrom that was my life for the last few months.

ETonline: How does Elijah play into upcoming episodes?
Gillies: I can't tell you that. Naughty boy. I always hear Julie Plec's voice in my head; the omnipotent chastising [laughs]. I will say that Julie is clever and finds a way to maintain Elijah's presence in the subsequent episodes. There's no way to revisit a millennium of history without Elijah there and there are methods which I can't go into, but they're very exciting new developments. Because of the New Orleans backdrop, and the supernatural fabric this show is woven from, there's more opportunities to bring Elijah's presence back into the show. I don't think fans should be too worried -- I've had 4 resurrections on The Vampire Diaries already, so people can be confident I will be back.

ETonline: Good because I'm already obsessed with Elijah's relationship with Hayley and need to see what's next.
Gillies: Yeah, that's an amazing relationship. There are so many wonderfully complicated seeds spread there. We couldn't be venturing into more awkward territory and as an actor, that's the most thrilling because that's the place where we have the most potential for trouble. That girl is a minefield.

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ETonline: When/if he comes "out of the box," might the daggering make Elijah feel less wary to take his brother's sloppy seconds?
Gillies: The strange thing about Elijah is that he always seems poised to retaliate for all the centuries of brutality inflicted on him by Klaus, and you never know what moment he might snap. I think that's the fun thing about playing Elijah: he's a coiled spring.

ETonline: What are you excited for the fans to see in upcoming episodes?
Gillies: I want them to see the potency of his commitment to his family. There's an oversimplified idea of Elijah: that he's the "good one." But when you're dealing with vampires, you have to adjust the prism of morality through which you look at this world. It's important for the audience to do away with the idea of "good guy" and "bad guy." It's not as black and white as "Klaus bad, Elijah good." To me, that would be the end of the show because it immediately denotes a character as dull and boring and a waste. I wouldn’t want to play that character. By human standards, Elijah is an awful guy: he hurts people, he feeds and he does terribly malevolent things, but this is a guy who survived for 1,000 years with a very specific code of honor. Elijah is every bit as depraved as Klaus and every bit as diseased psychologically as Klaus. Klaus' desire for power is just as bad as Elijah thinking his family will ever sacrifice for him the way he's sacrificed for them. He's just as capable of horrific acts of brutality to achieve his goals, and while you'll see a lot of good from Elijah, you're also going to see a lot of horror. And that's really exciting to me.

ETonline: Lastly, you've spent the last few months flying back and forth from Canada to Atlanta and your wife is pregnant. How would you describe life right now?
Gillies: Let me paint a picture for you, I'm driving right now with my very pregnant wife next to me [ed note: this interview was conducted on September 27, Rachael Leigh Cook has since given birth] and I just missed the exit. So, this moment perfectly encapsulates the last five months: sort of confused, I don't really know what the next exit is and Rachael and I are trying to do the best we can.

The Originals airs Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.