'The Originals' star Daniel Gillies on Elijah's great curse, more wars
For the Originals, immortality comes with a lot of baggage, particularly in the form of family members. But it also comes with a wealth of knowledge, and in Elijah’s case, a thousand-year-old sense of understanding and forgiveness. It’s something that Elijah’s brother Klaus has come to rely on over the years. But new hybrid Hayley is still not quite sure what to expect from Elijah.
In last week’s premiere, fans watched as Hayley battled with the transition, as she put it, from mother to monster. For Hayley, her new status as a hybrid means more than losing her baby and her wolf family. It also means losing Elijah. At least, that’s how she feels.
“I think if there’s one thing he is it’s forgiving,” Daniel Gillies, who plays Elijah, told EW. “I think it’s one of the most lovely things about Elijah. I don’t think he believes that she’s a monster at all. His capacity for empathy is enormous, and I think that that’s one of the great gifts that time has bestowed him with, but I think it’s also one of the curses as well. I’ve always said that Elijah’s great disease is his capacity to empathize and his enormous threshold for forgiveness. To a certain extent, he does believe that her acts were monstrous, but that doesn’t mean that he sees himself as any better than her. In fact, if anything, it will make them closer knowing that they’re sort of in the same realm of understanding.”
But it isn’t Elijah’s relationship with Hayley that’s the focal point of the current story. Rather, with the return of Elijah’s parents, along with his brothers Kol and Finn, there are many questions to be answered in terms of Elijah’s familial ties. Fans know how Klaus reacts to the arrival of his family members, but it’s yet to be seen what Elijah’s other relationships really mean to him. “I wish there was more definition regarding what Elijah’s feelings are,” Gillies said. “I think the writers are still discovering the show, and I don’t think they have all the answers, nor should they at this point. There’s only so much universe they can supply from week to week and they’re doing a marvelous, marvelous job. But I think that they’re still discovering and creating the very complicated and soiled labyrinth that has led us to this day. These protagonists are mentally complicated, and Elijah’s no exception.”
However, Gillies did say that viewers will get a deeper look into Elijah’s individual history with his family. “There is a strange ambiguity about what his sentiment is towards his mother and father. We will reveal a lot of Elijah’s history with his mother in the coming weeks and those chapters are extraordinarily enlightening and revealing regarding his history with his parents, and it is definitively his own.”
Along with flashbacks to Elijah’s time with his mother, fans know to expect a glimpse into the time when Elijah and Klaus both fell for original doppelganger Tatia. And with that, they’ll get to know human Elijah a little better. So how does human Elijah differ from the noble vampire fans know? “It’s an innocence,” Gillies said. “Speaking to Elijah’s great curse and blessing—this enormous sense of understanding—it comes directly from that love of innocence. From the moment we met him, even within The Vampire Diaries, he always had this adoration of Elena Gilbert, and understanding that the finite human life—as vulgar as it might look to someone like Niklaus—Elijah holds it within great reverence. The way Elijah might look at a Stephen Hawking or Mahatma Gandhi or an Albert Einstein, he has a deep love of not just human excellence but also of human compassion and what a human being can achieve within a human lifetime. And I think that innocence, i.e. the ability to die, in a way is something that’s become more and more precious, and dare I say it, probably even more and more of a temptation to him as he’s aged.”
But for the time being, Elijah is less caught up in a quest for innocence and more focused on helping his family move on. And despite the family’s recent triumph over the Guerrera wolves, healing is something that Gillies doesn’t see happening until baby Hope is safely home. “Whenever protagonists are discussing violence to solve a problem, not just as a person and a new father, it sort of sickens me. And it probably sickens the writers too, but they know that that’s the way that these worlds work. But even they understand that it’s only a temporary fix. Julie [Plec]’s the biggest lover of family of all time. Anything she writes comes back to the unity of family and desire to have that communion. But she knows, as do all the writers, that these wars are only a temporary fix, and they only beget further wars.”
The Originals airs Monday night at 8 p.m. on The CW.