The New Zealand native plays Elijah, the oldest living vampire in the world and a member of the Original family.
JJJ caught up with Daniel to get the scoop on Elijah’s relationship with Hayley, his misplaced title of nobility, the origin of his accent, and more!
The Originals airs TONIGHT @ 8PM on The CW!
Click inside to read our interview with Daniel Gillies…
JustJaredJr.com Interview – Daniel Gillies
JustJaredJr: For right now, Klaus and Elijah seem to be getting along, if you will. Could you ever see them actually killing one another (for good)?
Daniel Gillies: That poses another question regarding Klaus’ immortality because the bigger question is “How does one kill Klaus?” I think he could probably take out Elijah. I don’t know. I think they are worth more to each other live than dead. I think they pose inconveniences to one another on a much grander scale. Forever is a long time and I think they have a good deal of amnesia. Like, “It wasn’t that bad when he was around” and then they suddenly they resurrect them. And then they deal with the family drama all over again.
JJJ: Elijah and Hayley are getting close. Will Klaus become jealous of that relationship?
DG: He seems like he would be. He seems like someone who is jealous. I don’t know, but I think….yeah. For someone who’s lived so long, he’s not very wise. He’s the least wise, thousand-year-old soul that you can imagine. It’s an interesting character. He’s intelligent, but has no wisdom.
JJJ: Meanwhile, everyone thinks of Elijah as this sort of noble vampire…
DG: No, it’s just that he has a code and he serves his family according to that code. But if you get in the way of that, he’ll destroy you – whether you’re human, animal, or anything. He’s merciless. He handed a stake to another vampire and said, “You’re going to stake yourself in front of me” and chopped off the head of another vampire. He’s an assassin. He threw coins into a cafe when there were people of innocence sitting all around. People do forget about that. People are like, “He’s noble.” But then remember, he’s like a murderous, raging, terrible, awesome vampire. It’s wonderful for me because I get to play all these different colors and varieties. I’ve never seen as noble. I’ve seen him as devoted to a cause with a degree of commitment that’s honorable. It’s honor that he has, but he’s a noble, giving, sweet, compassionate guy.
JJJ: We’ve always been curious about his rather brief tryst with Katherine. Do you think that was a real thing for him? It seemed to happen so fast!
DG: In the beginning, I was so scared. I was scared that people were going to start to say that he’s asexual because he was kind of this mercenary guy. But the response, thank God, from girls, was like, “Well, who’s he going to be with?” Which was exciting. I was so concerned. It was exciting to me that they wanted him to be with anybody. Hell, there was a cry from the homosexual community saying, “Who is he going to be with? He could be our first gay vampire.” At that point, I was like, “As long as I continue having a job” (laughs). If he’s interesting, he’s interesting. I think everything woman he ever encountered was a very real thing. I think he adores women and has a right to do so. I can’t imagine exhausting that joy even over a thousand years.
JJJ: And finally, we have to ask about Elijah’s accent (which we love). Obviously, it’s different from that of his siblings. It’s not English, but it’s very proper, you might say. How did it come about?
DG: [The writers] gave me this information: he’s the oldest living vampire in the world. He’s lived all over the world. I was like, “OK, should I do something Slavic or Eastern European? Do we go British?” And then thinking where he would have lived, I said a vampire would live in New York. I’ve traveled a lot and there’s no way I’d live anywhere but New York. Or Paris. Or Rome. Why wouldn’t you live in the coolest places ever? So I said, I can imagine someone with an American accent, who has to have an amazing command of language, so let’s give him a British cadence. And then I started looking up actors who had that. Do you remember Magnum P.I.? Remember Higgins?. He had an American accent, but he spoke with a British cadence. I was like, “That’s what he’ll sound like.” And it’s Kelsey Grammer from Cheers. I wanted him to sound like he came from a wealthy family and studied in England. A semantics change would take place over the course of time. Like, I go back home to New Zealand now after having lived in the States for 10 years and people hear me, and they’re like, “You sound like an American. Everything you say sounds American.” But to you guys, I sound like I’m from somewhere else. It really only takes about 20 years for an accent to be completely uprooted.