NS: You say Elijah has been around for 1,000 years, yet he’s still getting duped by “ludicrous nothings.” Do you consider Elena a “nothing?”
DG: I’m certainly not calling Elena nothing. Yes, that instance with the lake [was a nothing]. But the fact [is] that he can’t identify danger and yet he’s supposed to be — like all of the Originals — this formidable adversary. For some reason, he drops his guard too much.
NS: Does that affect how you play him at all — this really tough guy, yet somehow he’s still getting duped?
DG: I play him how they tell me to play him. [Laughs] That’s not strictly true. I definitely try and bring humor to him when there isn’t enough humor on the page. I’m always trying to bring humanity to him because, as historically and robotically as he can be written, I am always going to fight them and make him a person.
NS: In a recent episode, we saw Elijah going to Elena at the ball expecting her to give him intel about his mother. It seems like he believes they have this shared understanding of what his mother’s intentions are? Where is this coming from?
DG: In a weird way, he feels that they have some kind of special connection, which he’s not altogether incorrect about. They’re sort of battling at being honest with one another. Both of them, because they’ve both betrayed one another. They both would aspire to be loyal to one another — and in another universe they might have succeeded — but they’re failing miserably …. There is something deeper than romantic. I don’t understand it with them. There is a magnetism.
NS: It seems like there’s something going on there ….
DG: Maybe it’s Nina and I. We’re both colossal flirts! It’s true, you know. I think we just enjoy being in scenes with each other and maybe that’s what people are reading, they like flirting with each other, probably. I don’t know.
NS: She’s doing such a great job juggling all these different roles — Elena Gilbert and her predecessor, Katerina/Katherine.
DG: That’s a great job, that girl. Can you imagine what she had to do last season playing Katherine too? I never saw that girl rest. She’s like, what, 22? 23? It’s not hard for me to play deep admiration of that girl when I do truly admire her because of the sheer quantity of work that she’s doing and the way that she’s taking it on. She’s awesome. I’m always having fun with her. Even the other day we had to do some rough stuff, which I can’t tell you about. I’m extremely grateful to be doing this role and being with these people. It’s just a total blessing, you know.
NS: So if Elijah or the Originals ever had a spinoff show, what do you think it would be about?
DG: First of all, I think [showrunners] Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson would write the coolest show of all time. I can’t remember who conceived of this fantasy, whether it was myself or Joseph Morgan, or actually it might have been Julie Plec who planted this seed when we were having beers one night, but I’m pretty sure someone said, “Yeah, why don’t we get a corporate version of the Originals in New York that are white-collar criminals?” Every part of that sounds amazing. So I was thrilled by that idea and I’ve said it a multitude of times.
NS: It’d be neat to see them outside of Mystic Falls taking on more.
DG: Yeah, exactly. I mean there is a whole world out there and these guys seem globally threatening. [Laughs] Especially this family.
NS: Can you speak to the impact the Original witch will have on the rest of the season? This mother returning to forgive her family — she comes back to life touting forgiveness but she’s bent on killing them via doppelganger and blood-laced champagne. Where is this going?
DG: I think in a sense she’s going to use them quite a bit. That kind of a force — it’s brilliant writing, to be honest, brilliant. I think she’s going to do one of two things, she’s either going to destroy us all or make us stronger.
NS: What about Alice Evans [who plays the Original witch mother], what has she been like to work with?
DG: I adore her, I thinks she’s such a sweetheart. We have a lot of fun, she’s a very, very funny lady. She’s really generous and she’s very thoughtful and she’s a great big pro. I love actors who like to do really, really well. She just walks in and wants to give it everything she’s got. I love actors who treat every scene like it’s important, like it means something. You can get a little more flippant as you get older, especially because to a certain extent you do need to be sort of flippant to create a relaxation when you’re acting. You do need to be physically and mentally relaxed, but she creates this kind of energy within the scene — you can see it in the scene and it’s lovely and it reads really beautifully. I just really like her. She’s also really fun to be on set with.