It's hard enough to join a popular show mid-second season, but to enter the world of Vampire Diaries as a "villain" and yet become so well-liked is nearly impossible. Somehow, Daniel Gillies pulled it off.
"First of all, people absolutely love the guy who's not the good guy," Gillies tells TVGuide.com." I think the great thing we're doing is generating questions [and] not supplying answers. I think Elijah is the embodiment of the question — that's why people are so drawn to him."
Gillies plays Elijah, who first appeared in the episode "Rose" and comes from the oldest and most powerful vampire family there is. Although his original mission was to capture Elena (Nina Dobrev) for his brother Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah joined Elena in order to destroy his brother once and for all. In the penultimate episode, however, Klaus revealed that the bodies of their family were still intact, and in that moment, Elijah chose his blood over everything else.
"I agree with his decision," Gillies says. "He's been pursuing this for centuries; this is what his goal was." The actor said choosing his brother in the end showed his humanity, something he believes Elijah strives for despite being a vampire. "He's got this conviction and you sense a deep belief in something so special about being human," Gillies says. "He's learned to suppress that he thinks humanity is actually a beautiful and wonderful gift that's being squandered every day."
Just as Gillies supports Elijah's choice, so do many of the devoted Vampire Diaries fans, even while it puts Mystic Falls' heroes at risk. "This show emphasizes the importance of family at every turn. Elijah chose his family too," @onlymystory writes on Twitter. The fansite @tvdnews adds, "At the end of the day, #TVD is about family...for better or worse."
As brotherhood has always been at the heart of the show, so has the blurred line between good and evil. Gillies makes the distinction that it's not as simple as calling Elijah a villain or a virtuous vampire.
"The one thing I really like about this show is that I don't think they design people as good guys and bad guys," Gilles says. "In a sense we're talking about vampires and mortality, but one of the great discussions is what it is to be a person, the responsibility of being human, and the frailty of that. It's too easy to call someone a good guy or a bad guy."
Gillies hopes to explore all that and more of Elijah's still-mysterious past of in Season 3. "I enjoy going back into his history because I like playing him with a degree of humility and vulnerability," he says. "I also [want to see] the strength of the brotherhood."
Are you excited to see more of Elijah next season?