Daniel Gillies on The Originals, Romantic Storylines, and Writing

Daniel Gillies Interview on The Originals
Daniel Gillies as 'Elijah' - Photo © The CW Network, LLC.
Daniel Gillies says he wasn’t at all shocked that The CW and executive producer Julie Plec decided to spin-off The Originals from The Vampire Diaries. However, Gillies did admit that he was surprised at the speed in which the series was developed. The new show, which is set to debut on October 15, 2013 at 8pm ET/PT, features Gillies as Elijah, Joseph Morgan as Klaus, and Claire Holt as Rebekah – all reprising their roles from The Vampire Diaries. And at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, Gillies provided a little insight into what fans can expect from this new series set in New Orleans.

Daniel Gillies The Originals Interview

Since this is your first Comic Con, how was the panel and how were the fans?
Daniel Gillies: “The fans were terrific. I made a pledge that I wouldn’t talk about masturbation to all of my cast mates. The problem with the mind is it’s a very anarchic little thing. If you tell somebody not to do something, I immediately want to do the thing that they tell me not to do. They said, “‘Please don’t mention ‘masturbation.” The first thing I did was I said to the audience that I was in fact not comma going to talk about masturbation. ‘That’s not what we’re going to talk about to you today.”
Can you talk about getting that phone call from executive producer Julie Plec saying there was going to be a The Originals spin-off?
Daniel Gillies: “Truthfully, the writing was on the wall for a little while. I believe in Julie more than anyone, really. She’s one of those people who when she says she’s going to do something, it comes into being, you know? It didn’t really come as a blind-siding sort of shock. When Joseph first came to be on The Vampire Diaries and we did some of our original scenes together, no pun intended, and she mentioned it. I remember seeing her in Video Village looking at the image. She just said, ‘Boys, this has to be a show.’ She’s just sitting there giddy, looking at it. She goes, ‘This has to be a show.’
I remember feeling then that the show was going to come into being. To be honest, I just didn’t think it would be so rapid. She thinks this is a long time, but for me, from inception, conception to realization, was only really a year and a half or two years, but she was always talking about it.”
Does it differ from The Vampire Diaries in tone?
Daniel Gillies: “You, it’s a little bit more like a war. It’s a little bit more strategic. Mystic Falls was all about survival in a sense. I think that New Orleans is going to be about reclaiming our former kingdom. That’s going to require a lot more, as I said before, strategy and a clever usurping of the power from Marcel who holds the keys to everything in that realm.”
What about romance? Are we going to see some?
Daniel Gillies: “For who?”
Daniel Gillies: “Wow. This is a Julie Plec question, really. I can’t say for myself. I know that we just terminated me with Katherine and I know that fans adored Caroline and Klaus together. But in truth, and perhaps I’m a little bit more brutal, cynical and old, I feel that these relationships, although they’re forged, they were made to be broken. The amount of venom that I’ve received online for being even momentarily dismissive about the Caroline thing not taking place… Put it this way: it’s doesn’t win over fans talking about that stuff.
I think they’re going to have to create all new relationships. It’s a whole new world. Who knows whether the Caroline/Klaus thing will continue or the Katherine/Elijah thing? Truthfully, I’m just excited to see who they bring into it. There will definitely be romance, but let’s put it that way. You can’t have a Julie Plec show and not have couples within them. She adores that stuff and she’ll never exclude it from her writing.”
How much do you enjoy doing this romantic stuff?
Daniel Gillies: “You know, man, that’s a really good question. In truth, it’s quite mechanical. I never dated an actress before my wife. I used to date women who would get jealous of that stuff, which was so odd because when you’re with an actor as well, they understand that it’s altogether the most unsexy thing that you could ever do. It’s really not a turn-on. It doesn’t matter who. I mean, look, Nina Dobrev is a beautiful woman and to make out with her should, in theory, be a pleasure – no matter who you’re married to or what your codes are. The problem is that when you go and do this stuff, and it sounds like I’m just saying it, but it’s so ‘by the numbers.’ Nothing could be more of an erection-killer than cameras around you. That sounded terrible.
Honestly, man, and this is going to sound so actor-y but it’s like dance steps. It’s literally like choreographing a fight. ‘You’re going to grab me here, I’m going to kiss you here, you’re going to drop there, we’re going to go to the clothes, you’re going to pull my shirt off…’ It’s like dance steps. You’ll be in the middle and they’ll be, ‘Oh, just tilt your chin up because the lights not quite you clearly.’ It’s the opposite of sexy, these romantic scenes.
I enjoy the interplay of wooing someone or things like that, because that can be a real energy that you can tap into. But as for the physical act of making out, it’s not that fun.”
Do you prefer the action story?
Daniel Gillies: “I like them both. I 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 I’ve ever done. It’s what I love about being an actor. I think that you’re always trying to do a wonderful scene, so if I do anything well, I’m just pleased. I mostly think of my career as just a series of f*ck-ups.”
Is writing a more creative outlet for you compared to acting?
Daniel Gillies: “Writing is a beautiful outlet. You end up … I’m going to be careful here… No, you know, I won’t be that careful. Why stop now? Why start now, start being careful. You end up doing a lot of writing as an actor anyway. You just do. I could deny this, but you do because after a time you get to know the character and it’s yours, and it belongs to you. There might be a certain cadence, or specificities of speech, or things that you wouldn’t say, sometimes. You’re like, ‘I don’t need to say that because in the last episode I did this.’ Nobody becomes a better master of your character than you do. I always think that…not always, often actors will have terrible ideas for lines, but often they have really good ones. Often, they’re a really good consultant on what to say.
To sort of splinter off and answer your question more specifically, when you’re writing for the purposes of just writing, I’m writing my next film, for example, right now and it’s excruciating. It’s the most difficult. Anybody can write a screenplay. Anybody. I mean, I’m going to say it. Anybody can write a TV show, but to write a good TV show, that’s a slim percent. To write a great movie, that’s almost no one. The ravine between you and a good piece of work, to span that can take years. I find writing absolutely brutal and one of the most difficult parts of the process of creation.”