NBC's new medical drama Saving Hope may revolve around a supernatural element (comatose surgeon's spirit sticks around the hospital) but it's worlds away from Daniel Gillies' last small screen gig on The Vampire Diaries, where he brought to life a centuries old vampire.
Playing a honest to goodness human being was one of the biggest appeals for Daniel, as was the opportunity to use his natural New Zealand accent for the first time in more than a decade. Although, as the actor tells me, one of those things even came as a surprise to him!
TheInsider.com: What excites you about Saving Hope?
Daniel Gillies: I know there's this obligatory sense that I have to get out there and promote a project, and while that's true, nothing is more pleasurable than talking about a project you believe in -- and this show is magnificent. It just goes from strength to strength every week. I thought one looked like a movie, but episode two looks even more cinematic. I've never seen anything quite like this show. I’m so happy to be grandstanding.
Insider: How about the character, what appealed to you about Dr. Joel Goran?
Daniel: I'm excited to be exploring a character that's human [laughs]. After The Vampire Diaries, which I love and adore, it's nice to be exploring a very flawed human character. There's a large murky chasm as to Joel's motives for being back at the hospital. You'll see that he starts to conduct Stem Cell Research at the hospital, but he's taken a pay-cut to be here – the haunting question becomes, Is he back because of Alex [his former lover, played by Erica Durance]? Regardless of whether or not that's his motivation, he can't do anything about it because there's nothing less cool than making a play for a woman whose husband to be is in a coma [laughs].
Insider: Saving Hope has this great hook -- comatose doctor's spirit/ghost/consciousness is still alive in another realm of the hospital -- but surely the show moves beyond that at some point to simply become a show about the people in this hospital, right?
Daniel: I do agree to an extent that there is a sales pitch element to the apparition, but I don't think it will be a gimmick. As it goes on, they're actually getting more exciting with the revelations of what is happening to him. The character doesn't know what he's experiencing – for all he knows, this could be errant synapses in his brain firing. But whatever is happening, it makes for wonderful drama because as cliche as the ghost walking around hospital corridors sounds, he's not technically a ghost. He's just existing in this other dimension – you don't know why he's there and why he's unable to return, but those are both explored throughout the course of the show.
Insider: Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the first time in a long time you've used your natural accent on-screen, right?
Daniel: You're absolutely right. It's my own voice and it's very strange for me – I've been playing Americans and Brits for the last 12 years and I have never used my own voice. I auditioned as an American, got the role but then David [Wellington, producer] asked to look at it with my own accent. What I love is that he actually invited me to make that decision. What I didn't realize at the time is that when I normally build a character, I start with the voice. But in this case, I couldn't because the voice was my own. It made me realize how easy actors have it when they just get to use their own voice [laughs].
Insider: What do you want fans to know about Saving Hope beyond episode two?
Daniel: I'm excited for them to get involved with a world that has very human performances. The show is deeply engaging from the moment you watch the first scene. I think there's something that immediately invests you in that universe. There's a frequency these guys have found and the stunning actors I'm surrounded with uphold that frequency. These are actors will have you coming back week after week -- and not just because they're cute. And for the record, I'm excluding myself from that sentence [laughs]. These people are heroic and funny, even in the face of tragedy and I think people will want to see how they can be triumphant against that adversity.
Saving Hope premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on NBC.