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The Originals Director Daniel Gillies Praises 'Outstanding' Phoebe Tonkin Performance (Plus, Watch a Clip)

After playing Elijah Mikaelson for almost seven years — don’t forget he started on The Vampire Diaries! — Daniel Gillies is finally stepping behind the camera on Friday’s Originals (The CW, 8/7c), an opportunity he calls “a bit of a gift horse.”

“To be a participant in a show and to have played a character for as many years as I have, I know the universe and the mythology, as well as the tone of the show,” Gillies tells TVLine. “Just by osmosis, you inherit a complete understanding of what needs to be delivered in an episode. It’s a beautiful thing for an actor who has aspirations of directing, because you have training wheels. You’ve also developed a degree of intimacy with the crew, which is another hurdle you don’t need to leap as a guest director. There are so many things stacked in your favor.”

As for his approach to directing, Gillies says he pulled from his earlier theater days, “where it’s all about the words and the actions.”

“I felt really strongly that one of the aspects that’s most overlooked and forgotten is the thing that needs to be examined and treasured the most, which is the acting itself,” he explains. “When you work in television, particularly television with a fast turn-around, you’re often left to fend for yourself in terms of making decisions for your character. I guess I just wanted to see if I could create an environment where all I did was speak with the actors.”

And while all of his co-stars were “magnificent,” Gillies has particularly lovely things to say about Phoebe Tonkin, whose character is tasked with entering Elijah’s shattered mind in an attempt to put the pieces back together.

“Perhaps because I had the most to do with her character, but Phoebe was just outstanding,” he recalls. “In the cut that I delivered, I thought she did some of the best work she’s ever done on the show. She was so willing and committed. I really hope it’s as good as I remember it being.” (Something tells us it will be.)

As a thank-you for reading this, here’s an exclusive first look at tonight’s episode, in which Marcel and Josh hatch a (likely disastrous) plot to bring back Sofya using The Hollow’s blood:

Hit PLAY on the video above, then drop a comment with your hopes for the rest of Season 4 below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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24 Comments
  1. Thomas says:

    I’m actually more excited than usual about this upcoming episode. We’ve seen a lot of Klaus’s past, in The Vampire Diaries as well as in The Originals, but not that much of Elijah’s past. Elijah is hands down my favorite male character on the show. Mainly because because he reminds me the most about myself (although I do of course realize that I’m not an all powerful Original Vampire).

    • KS says:

      Elijah has always been my favorite too. I do see how the writers have intended to deconstruct and sacrifice that character to prop others in contrast such as Klaus and Marcel over the years, especially these last 2 seasons. I don’t agree with that tactic at all. It’s blatant and obvious audience manipulation and lazy writing. But regardless, Elijah is the first Original to ever exist in the shows’ universe and because of Daniel/Elijah largely is the reason the Originals even exists as a family of characters and a spin-off show. At times he has not been given the time/attention he deserves, both on TVD and on TO. He will always be my favorite, though.

      • luvprue1 says:

        I agree with you about how Elijah being use to prop up Klaus and Marcel lately. Which makes me wonder whether, or not Daniel Gillies is leaving the show? I love Elijah , just as much as i love Klaus. Yet this season he doesn’t seem to have much to do beside moon over Hayley, or killing 4 young girls. It’s like they are setting him up for a exit. Could that be the reason why they made Marcel a original?

  2. I love this show, especially Klaus, but it would not be complete without Elijah. He is great. The whole cast is fantastic and the storyline is epic. Cannot wait till tonite’s episode.

  3. oke says:

    I guess the writers listens a bit. I’m happen to learn alittle more about Elijah’s past other than trying to save Klaus for a thousand years. This is good.

  4. Terry M says:

    Great idea with this episode let’s see how it turns out.

  5. Marsha darrington says:

    I thought the clip was about hayley

  6. Jane says:

    I remember when Paul directed an episode in season 8, he especially praised Candice’s performance. Now Daniel says similar things about Phoebe. It’s cool that girls did good job but how about instead of being so good under their male colleagues leadership, these girls could try to direct an episode themselves for once.
    I’m not sure why is it such a boys club, IS, PW, JM, CMD and DG. Some of them directed a few episodes. It’s either a strictly boys club or surprisingly only male actors want to try smth new but girls are lacking ambition and are just looking pretty on/off-screen, that’s all. It’s great that Daniel got this experience though, I’m happy for him, hope to be shocked by that darker side of Elijah.

    • Esther A says:

      What an excellent idea! I was thinking the same thing, it’s always been the boys only club directing or producing . I’m sure a girl there would want to try it too or is it that they truly lack ambition like you said? I doubt that. I believe what a man can do, a woman can do it better.

    • Gift says:

      Women are not just made to look pretty, alittle more credit should be in order. This point is really interesting and someone should pay attention to this. Well Daniel I wish you all the best on your directing.

    • Carla Krae says:

      The actors have to ASK for directing chances. If the ladies aren’t interested, they aren’t going to be directed. It’s not a boys club.

      • Jane says:

        If something like a girl directing an episode has never happened and no one encouraged it either, it’s very difficult and simply scary to ask for it and be the first one, especially when it’s something you can’t be sure you’re good at. It takes courage. And it’s either that not a single female actress was interested to get this experience or that none of them dared to ask and be the first girl in what so far has being a strictly boys club. I’m leaving it up to you to decide which one of these possibilities is more likely. Anyway, I’m super excited about the new episode, hard to believe the season is almost over, 4 eps left before a one year break!

        • Gift says:

          Yes four episodes left, I’m anxious already. I don’t think no girl got the courage to ask, someone might have but was turned​ down. What do we know since we aren’t there right?

  7. Dominique says:

    i’m excited about tonight’s episode. this whole season has been very stellar, but elijah has slowly been pushed into becoming a monster in favor of klaus becoming less of a monster. it’ll be interesting to see more background on elijah’s character tonight, and hopefully resolve some of that, and have him go back to the character he was on the vampire diaries. i’m also excited for daniel to sort of take the lead here, becuase he’s such an excellent actor and adds so many great things to elijah. it’ll be a pleasure to see how he makes it work in this episode.
    .
    i’m also excited because kol’s finally back! for a show that calls itself the originals, they sure make it their mission to have as few originals on it as possible. they just keep killing them off or sending them away.

  8. I love Hayley says:

    ”The Originals Director Daniel Gillies Praises ‘Outstanding’ Phoebe Tonkin Performance” loooooooooooooooooooool. Reallly?

    • Gift says:

      You really don’t like Phoebe do you?

      • Jane says:

        lol exactly my thought, this is why I don’t understand the name, is it like sarcastic or something? Haha Well to be completely honest Hayley’s character annoyed me from her first appearance in TVD till this season, when she finally started growing on me. But then again they put too much focus on her with the whole the hollow’s bloodline. I like her better as a supporting character.

        • Sakeenah says:

          I love you. finally someone I connect with. I always wish it was her that died in place of Cammie or Davina.

          • Hayley is life says:

            I wish I could upvote your comment, Sakeenah.

            At least the actresses who played Cami and Davina were good at acting, even if their characters came off as annoying at times.

      • Hayley is life says:

        Nothing against her. It’s her poorly written character that sucks, and her bad acting doesn’t help either.

        • Gift says:

          I don’t think Hayley’s​ acting is bad, I just think she has this kind of no react kind of expression. I don’t know the right word to use for that but happy ,sad she seems the same. I guess it’s her nature.

  9. Misty Kilgore says:

    Elijah and Haley are meant to be together. Niklaus and Cami are amazing together so please bring her back from the other side! I absolutely love this show! I personally do not want Niklaus, Elijah Rebekah or Haley to die. Keep the Originals going for eternity! I admire Daniels decision to direct. He is amazing on screen and I’ve always noticed his deep desire for acting. He will be just as great directing, no doubt! They are all very talented and much appreciated to watch:)

  10. Carmen says:

    The show to me I don’t want to end. The story line of the Hollow will return the actors are great. Thank you
    I’m looking forward for the next coming season don’t end the actors are great.