Kingdom Come

Paste Magazine
Michael Dunaway

You’d think it would be a bit easier. True, when actor Daniel Gillies set out to write and direct his first film, he hadn’t yet landed the role that, today, most fans know him for best, in The Vampire Diaires. But it’s not like he was a nobody. He had appeared in major hits like Spiderman 2 and Into the West. And his wife, and co-star of the film, was Rachael Leigh Cook, for goodness’ sake.

Armed with a mysterious, enigmatic, moving script, an incredibly modest budget, and a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, Gillies went out in search of funding, figuring it would be a one to two year project. Seven and a half years later of hard and at times agonizing labor later, Gillies releases Broken Kingdom this week at a red carpet Hollywood premiere presented by Paste. The gala will also feature a screening of Kingdom Come, the documentary that tells the inside story of the ordeal Gillies went through making Broken Kingdom. It’s the Burden of Dreams to Gillies’ Fitzcarraldo, for you Werner Herzog fans.

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Broken Kingdom

Paste Magazine
Michael Dunaway

Broken Kingdom, the writing and directorial debut of Daniel Gillies (perhaps best known form his role in The Vampire Diaries), finally gets unveiled to the world next week, along with its companion documentary Kingdom Come.

Most of the plot of Broken Kingdom, the narrative film of the two, seems at first glance underwritten—a broken, haggard, haunted man who calls himself “80” (Gillies himself) wanders the streets of Bogota, Colombia, finally falling in with a very young prostitute. Back in the United States, a woman named Marilyn (Rachael Leigh Cook) begins a romantic relationship. That’s about it, for most of the movie.

But what you’re coming for isn’t twists and turns of plot. You’re coming for, in large part, an intriguing atmosphere of mystery and momentousness. There’s a very real, unmanufactured sense that large issues are at play in each of these lives. 80’s agonizing silence and, eventually, Marilyn’s nervous energy, underscore the gravity of the situations, whatever those situations may be.

Gillies is nearly unrecognizable for fans of his role in The Vampire Diaries; his character hides behind greasy bangs, a long bushy beard, and evasive eyes. He’s a writer who’s found it impossible to write, and his frustration and self-loathing virtually drip off the screen. Stony silence is a difficult role to pull off, and in many actors’ hands in comes across as blank and shallow. But Gillies’ soulful performance imbues his struggle with a nobility of spirit that animates what could have been a very forbidding performance. You want to get behind those eyes.

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Daniel Gillies and Rachael Leigh Cook: Class acts in “Broken Kingdom”

On & Beyond

There are actors who work mainly for the fame, the glory and the big paychecks in the motion picture industry. And then there are those who work truly for the love of the craft—the art of taking an idea, working tirelessly to bring it to the screen, and who sacrifice their blood, sweat and finances to make it happen. They become the true “stars” of the industry—the real class acts.

Daniel Gillies and Rachael Leigh Cook are two of those stars. Their passion for filmmaking goes further on display with the release on October 2 of a pair of films—“Broken Kingdom” and “Kingdom Come.” Between them, they wrote, directed, executive-produced and star in “Broken Kingdom.” The companion film, “Kingdom Come,” serves as a documentary and tribute to the challenges that these two actors, who have been married since 2004, faced in bringing their film to fruition.

Neither needed to set out on this journey. Daniel stars as Elijah Mikaelson in CW’s “Vampire Diaries” and was a lead in NBC’s “Saving Hope” last season, while Rachael will soon begin filming the second season of TNT’s popular “Perception” series opposite co-star Will McCormack.  They have long, impressive resumes in Hollywood, but they share two common passions—the work ethic as actors to never rest on their laurels, and the desire to stretch themselves in roles opposite of ones they’ve played.

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'Vampire Diaries' Star Daniel Gillies Wants You At His Movie Premiere

Hollywood Crush

We know actor Daniel Gillies best as Original vampire Elijah on "The Vampire Diaries," but it's time to meet his filmmaker side too.

I have to make movies now. I’ve realized the pleasure that comes from it, and I’ve realized that it’s one of the few sorts of instruments that I think is a really worthy one to sort of talk back to the universe about what your experience is and has been being a person your whole life.
— Daniel Gillies

Daniel decided five years ago that he wanted to fulfill his dream of directing a project of his own. He took three years off acting and invested more than $100,000 of his own money into making that dream a reality, and thus, "Broken Kingdom" was born. Along the way he decided to create a documentary chronicling his experience and turned to fellow actors Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Selma Blair and wife Rachael Leigh Cook (yes, that Rachael Leigh Cook) to help contribute their own experiences to the project.

"Broken Kingdom" has already made festival circuits and now it and its companion documentary "Kingdom Come" are ready to meet the world. The premiere for both projects is going to take place in Los Angeles on October 2, but Daniel has invited all of us to come. He is going to livestream the premiere red carpet through the films' official website for fans to watch and, once the movie starts rolling in L.A.'s Harmony Gold Theater, viewers at home will be able to watch "Kingdom Come" on their computers as well. After, both projects will be available for purchase. We had a chance to catch up with Daniel recently to talk about where he got this great idea, which really is a first in the film community.

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Daniel Gillies Talks THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, Writing and Directing His First Feature Film, BROKEN KINGDOM, and More


With The CW series The Vampire Diaries wrapping up its third season, just like with every season of the popular drama, the lives of every character will be in jeopardy, decisions will be made that will change everything, and it’s pretty likely that the hearts of at least some of the residents of Mystic Falls will be broken, before it’s all said and done.

Since his first appearance on the show, original vampire Elijah has become an increasingly popular character among the loyal viewers and, during this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actor Daniel Gillies talked about how he originally got involved with The Vampire Diaries, what drew him to the role, how immensely lucky he feels that the role has turned out the way it has, what he’s enjoyed most about playing Elijah, and how sweet and supportive the fans have been.  He also talked about his role as a hotshot young surgeon on the NBC medical drama Saving Hope, premiering on June 7th, being able to juggle both shows if need be, and writing and directing his first independent film, the drama Broken Kingdom.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Collider: How did you originally get involved with The Vampire Diaries?  Was Elijah always the character that you had auditioned for?

DANIEL GILLIES:  Yes, it was.  I went in at the end of 2010.  I thought I had done a pretty good job, but there were a lot of kids who had auditioned for it.  They said, “You did a good job,” but I didn’t hear anything for awhile.  I think it was four to six weeks after I had auditioned that I got the role.  They said that they liked my audition, but that they were going to look for an older actor, which actually made sense to me for the role.  I thought it should be played by an older actor.  Elijah seems older.

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