The Whim­si­cal Al­tru­ist

Daniel Gillies from “The Vam­pire Diaries” and “The Orig­i­nals” turns on the charm, self-dep­re­cat­ing hu­mor and com­pas­sion for his in­ter­view with DAMAN

DA MAN - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy Mitchell Nguyen McCor­mack

Daniel Gillies from “The Vam­pire Diaries” and “The Orig­i­nals” turns on the charm, hu­mor and com­pas­sion for his in­ter­view with DAMAN


Born in canada and de­but­ing in New Zealand, Daniel Gillies then moved to the united States where he soon found him­self play­ing in movies like “Bride and Prej­u­dice” and “Spi­der-Man 2.” his best­known role, how­ever, is as the suave and level-headed vam­pire eli­jah Mikael­son in hit TV se­ries “The Vam­pire Diaries.” While the show ended in 2014, he then reprised the role in the equally-pop­u­lar (if not more) spin-off ti­tled “The Orig­i­nals.” Be­yond act­ing, how­ever, Gillies is also known as a phi­lan­thropist and gen­uine fam­ily-man. and, as you’ll see below, he has a solid sense of hu­mor and a sharp wit.

DAMAN: Hi, Daniel. Awe­some to have you with us. How are you do­ing right now? Daniel Gillies: De­li­cious. Thanks.

DA: So, right around now, the fi­nal episode of the fi­nal sea­son of “The Orig­i­nals” has just started air­ing. How do you feel about the show reach­ing its fi­nale? DG: lib­er­ated. heart­bro­ken. a lit­tle hun­gry.

DA: Do you still re­mem­ber how you re­acted when it was an­nounced that this, sea­son five of “The Orig­i­nals,” would be the show’s last?

DG: i thought the fourth sea­son was def­i­nitely the last. So, i was de­lighted i was still em­ployed.

DA: Count­ing “The Vam­pire Diaries” from which “The Orig­i­nals” is spun off, you’ve been with the se­ries since 2010. What will you miss the most from be­ing part of these shows? DG: a. The cater­ing. Splen­did work from all con­cerned. B. Sab­o­tag­ing the scenes of my co­horts whilst they nobly tried to do their job. c. [co-star] Joseph Mor­gan’s silky lady-palms.

DA: “The Vam­pire Diaries” was widely ac­claimed, and “The Orig­i­nals” is also highly re­garded. What would you say is the key to the se­ries’ con­tin­ued suc­cess? Es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the glut of fan­tasy and vam­pire se­ries we have on TV nowa­days... DG: yusuf Gate­wood, Phoebe Tonkin, Steven krueger, charles Michael Davis, ri­ley Voelkel, Danielle rose rus­sell, leah Pipes, claire holt, Nathaniel Bu­zolic, Danielle camp­bell and Justin Mor­gan.

DA: You’ve also di­rected two episodes of “The Orig­i­nals.” Is this some­thing that you’ll be do­ing more of in the fu­ture? DG: Fin­gers crossed.

DA: What was it like see­ing an episode come to­gether but from the per­spec­tive of both an ac­tor and di­rec­tor?

DG: ex­haust­ing. Ter­ri­fy­ing. chal­leng­ing. Beau­ti­ful. Di­rect­ing my­self was the worst. i can be so defiant. i found re­verse psy­chol­ogy help­ful. When giv­ing my­self a note in par­tic­u­lar. also treats. i was rarely on set with­out a large Tup­per­ware con­tainer of reese’s Pieces. Gillies, the ac­tor, would re­li­ably ac­qui­esce af­ter ad­min­is­tra­tion of said-snack.

DA: Do you have any other se­ries or movies lined up for the rest of the year? DG: No. al­though i’m writ­ing my own TV show.

DA: What is it that usu­ally look for when you’re con­sid­er­ing a po­ten­tial role? DG: i’ll get back to you on that. My po­si­tion has changed some­what.

DA: How about your ab­so­lute dream project? What would that be?

DG: The se­ries i am writ­ing now. Who knows? it might not get bought. But, yes: My ma­te­rial.

DA: Your jour­ney as an ac­tor in­volved mov­ing half across the globe. Where did this pas­sion and de­ter­mi­na­tion come from?

DG: i’m a New Zealan­der. We’re tough. We’re taught that the goal is to be good. Nowhere on the globe can you make money as an ac­tor like you do in the States. Nor do you re­ceive the same kind of recog­ni­tion. Where i come from, fail­ure is taught and em­braced; cel­e­brated even. They don’t

do that enough here. it builds re­silience and pre­pares the artist for war.

DA: To­day, what do you see as the most re­ward­ing part of your cho­sen ca­reer? DG: The scenes them­selves. it’s the only time i feel nor­mal.

DA: You’re also known for your hu­man­i­tar­ian work, par­tic­u­larly in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ox­fam. How did your in­volve­ment with the char­ity start?

DG: i have a won­der­ful pub­li­cist called lisa Perkins. She had al­ready es­tab­lished a re­la­tion­ship with a tremen­dous hu­man be­ing called Jackie Nel­son. From the mo­ment i spoke with Jackie, i was in.

DA: Can you share with us some of the more mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences from your work with Ox­fam through­out the years?

DG: There are many. The ex­pe­ri­ence that im­me­di­ately leaps to mind is when we in­ter­viewed a woman at the imvepi refugee set­tle­ment in North-West­ern uganda. This woman de­scribed a story to us of be­ing rounded up like live­stock to the cen­ter of her vil­lage by sol­diers. Most of the men were slaugh­tered. The women raped. When the sol­diers be­gan shoot­ing those that re­mained, they fled for the for­est nearby.

For many weeks this woman and a hand­ful of sur­vivors hid from the mil­i­tary in South Su­dan un­til they were able to make it to the ugan­dan bor­ders.

DA: It’s all too easy to be a bit cyn­i­cal about hu­man­i­tar­ian work, es­pe­cially when it’s about help­ing peo­ple who are far away from home where there’s no fore­see­able end to con­flict and the hard­ship it brings with it. How do you stay mo­ti­vated? DG: To be hon­est with you, i haven’t been do­ing enough. This year i be­came oc­cu­pied with a host of other dis­trac­tions and i haven’t given my­self to the cause. The hu­man mind is kind in a cruel way, i think. it’s eas­ier not to think of the sit­u­a­tion i saw. Par­tic­u­larly be­cause of the mag­ni­tude of the is­sue. There is a dan­ger­ous il­lu­sion that the prob­lem is too great in South Su­dan. This is com­pletely false. We can do some­thing. Jeff Be­zos can do a lot.

around 16 thou­sand US dol­lars can sup­ply a fresh wa­ter pump to a vil­lage and pro­vide for tens of thou­sands. By my cal­cu­la­tions you could ir­ri­gate ... give me a sec, carry the 4… most of the con­ti­nent of africa. When i think of the in­cred­i­ble ef­forts of or­ga­ni­za­tions like Ox­fam, it’s not dif­fi­cult to find mo­ti­va­tion again.

i think of Jackie Nel­son. i think of Noah Gottschalk.

These peo­ple are tire­less. They are real he­roes. and they’re fight­ing for the un­der­priv­i­leged ev­ery sin­gle day.

They’re tread­ing the in­cred­i­bly un­en­vi­able po­si­tion of ob­serv­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment pro­to­col in or­der to be re­spect­ful—they do this mag­nif­i­cently—as well as try­ing to sum­mon the at­ten­tion of the world to the hor­rific plight these in­di­vid­u­als face.

i haven’t been help­ful lately. i need to re-en­gage. We all do.

DA: On the closer-to-home front, you’re also known as a fam­ily man. How do you jug­gle your time be­tween work, fam­ily and ev­ery­thing else?

DG: Well, it’s been much sim­pler this year. i’m un­em­ployed! lov­ing it. [ Laughs] When­ever i spend any time away from my chil­dren, i re­ally feel it, though. like most par­ents, i just want to be around them all the time. at least i have the lux­ury of be­ing able to sup­port them and be a fa­ther. Not many are so for­tu­nate.

DA: And when you sim­ply want to re­lax af­ter a long day on set, unwind, maybe get away from it all for a while, what do you usu­ally end up do­ing? DG: i usu­ally try to bug Jeff Be­zos re­gard­ing is­sues in the un­der­priv­i­leged world.


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