Pop-culture in the 2010’s can’t be discussed without mentioning one thing: vampires. Spearheaded by the Twilight series and HBO’s True Blood, the path was carved out for generations of blood-suckers to come — one of them being Daniel Gillies.
Fans of the hit supernatural CW series The Vampire Diaries saga will instantly recognize the strong jawline and lightly stubbled face of Gillies, known for his role as Elijah Mikaelson. The Canadian born, New Zealand-bred actor played this fictional vampire for four seasons of the show before moving on to The Originals, a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries.
When he eventually hung up his fangs, various roles came about, including one in the hit Netflix series Virgin River beginning in 2019. But the 47-year-old does more than just act. He can write, direct, speak multiple languages, does charity work and is ultimately, a man of many talents. Here, we go deeper to find out who is the real Daniel Gillies.
How he got into acting
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Gillies’ folks decided to move back to their native New Zealand with five year-old Daniel in tow. While in NZ, Gillies attended the prestigious Hamilton Boys’ High School. Instead of following in his family’s medical footsteps — his dad being a pediatrician, mother a nurse and great, great, great grandfather being Sir Harold Gillies, a renowned ENT plastic surgery pioneer – Daniel was intrigued by acting.
To hone in on his skills, Gillies went to the Unitec School of Performing Arts, Daniel Gillies appeared in a TV commercial for Lotto Instant Kiwi. Gillies began his actual thespian career starring in several Auckland Theatre Company productions, where he was noticed and landed a two-season lead role in the television drama Street Legal (2000).
But acting opportunities in New Zealand were far and few between, so Daniel packed his bags for a six-week stay in Sydney, Australia in 2001, before heading to Canada for two months. There, he worked as a waiter and dishwasher to make enough money to move to Los Angeles.
Daniel Gillies movies and TV shows
When he made it to Los Angeles, he was soon cast in movies such as the Bollywood-style Bride and Prejudice and Spider-Man 2 in 2002 as Mary Jane’s fiancé, John Jonah Jameson III.
“I’m not George Clooney so I can’t just pick and choose,” Gillies told Collider. “I take roles where they occur.” His breakout role as Elijah Mikaelson in The Vampire Diaries came in 2010 and he appeared on the show until 2014, Originally slated as a minor role in the series, the audience response was overwhelming. That’s when producers decided to expand his character.
After that, he continued to play Elijah Mikaelson on The Originals took alongside Joseph Morgan from 2013 through 2018, where Gillies had the opportunity to direct two episodes. The pilot was filmed in New Orleans while the remaining series was filmed in Atlanta.
Aside from The Vampire Diaries universe, Gillies is also known for having been cast as Dr. Joel Goran in the Canadian supernatural medical drama series, Saving Hope, from 2012 through 2015.
With a flair for languages — Gillies speaks English, French and Maori — the actor voiced many characters in Thor: Metal Gods for fifteen episodes in 2019. His linguistic skills undoubtedly add to his good looks and acting talent, and allow him to portray characters from difficult cultural backgrounds with authenticity and precision. “As lovely as people are to me about my various performances, I am still a huge critic. I like very little of what I do,” he told Collider.
Gillies has also appeared in the recent films Operation: Rainfall (2020) and he relished his terrifying persona in James Ashcroft’s thriller as Mandrake in the Netflix hit Coming Home In The Dark (2021). Based on Owen Marshall’s award-winning short story of the same name, the film will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Daniel Gillies on Virgin River
In 2019, Gillies took on the role of Mel’s (played by Alex Breckenridge) deceased husband, Mark Monroe, in the hit show Virgin River, who died in season 1 following an automobile accident for which Mel blamed herself. Gillies has only ever appeared as Mark in flashback sequences designed to give emotional insight into Mel’s life before coming to town.
As the seasons have gone by, Gillies has only made a few appearances in season 3 and season 4 — again via flashbacks. Will Gillies be in season 5? From the interview with Mr. WarBurton Magazine, Gillies said, “Here’s what I’ll say, somewhat enigmatically: the good news about being the dead husband is that you can appear at any time. I’ll leave it at that.” (Click through to read more about Virgin River season 5 — here’s everything you need to know)
Who is Daniel Gillies’ wife?
In 2003, Gillies and She’s All That actress Rachael Leigh Cook began dating, eventually tying the knot in August 2004 in a very private, low-key ceremony.
Daughter Charlotte Easton Gillies was born in 2013 and the following year, the couple revealed they were expecting their second child, a son, born April 2015. Sadly, after a decade of marriage, the relationship ended in June 2019, filing for divorce in 2020.
Daniel introduced his new girlfriend, model Julia Misaki, to his fans via an Instagram story in February 2021.
What is Daniel Gillies doing now?
Gillies has joined Roku’s acclaimed Australian drama The Newsreader for the second season of the series airing later this year, which is set in the cutthroat world of 1980s TV news in Melbourne, Australia.
Gillies will play Charlie, whose billed as a a privileged first-born son of an aging newspaper mogul, desperate to make his own mark in the world. The Newsreader takes viewers through reporters’ lives juggling the competitiveness of the industry while handling critical breaking news events from the Space Shuttle’s Challenger tragedy to the Chernobyl disaster.
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Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years. Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living. She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for Women, Elle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva. Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content. She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.