The 35-year-old revealed that while Elijah can be a menacing character, he is simply attempting to be a "good soul".
"He wants to just be a good man," Gillies told the Los Angeles Times. "He would love to be a good man. I think he admires humanity when it flourishes."
He continued: "Certainly he's seen men and women of genius come and go, you know. When he sees what human excellence can be, he sees everything angelic and everything monstrous, and when he sees humanity trying to reach beyond itself in a sort of transcendental fashion, he adores it.
"I think Elijah truly just wants to be a good soul," Gillies added. "I love that he's striving for something pure. He's failing. But at least he's striving."
He recently said that Elijah will be furious when he discovers that his mother Esther (Alice Evans) bound him to his siblings in an attempt to make it easier to kill Klaus (Joseph Morgan).
The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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