Although born in Canada, Daniel Gillies was brought up largely in New Zealand by his Kiwi parents. Following high profile stage roles and a Chapman Tripp award for starring in The God Boy, he got his TV break playing a lawyer on the first two seasons of Street Legal. But it was in American television that Gilles really made his mark: in 2010 he joined hit show The Vampire Diaries as vampire Elijah Mikaelson, which led to a starring role on long-running spin-off The Originals. Concurrently he was playing a doctor in medical drama Saving Hope. In 2012 Gillies wrote and directed big screen drama Broken Dreams.
Elijah is just as confused as everybody else. His one enormous attribute is that he has a massive threshold for patience because he’s been around for 1000 years. Daniel Gillies on his vampiric role in The Originals, Coup De Main website, October 2014
Running an impressive four series, stylish crime show Street Legal centred around a struggling Auckland law firm, home base for unorthodox lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga'aia), and sometime girlfriend Joni Collins (Kathleen Kennard). 'Ellis's Restaurant', the first episode made following the pilot, sees Silesi defending an ex-junkie on a possession charge, and facing off for the first time on screen against Sergeant Keens Van Dam (Charlies Mesure). The episode also sees the debut of Silesi's beloved 1944 Ford Jailbar, after his Ute unexpectedly ends up in pieces.
Over four seasons, Street Legal’s slick Kiwi take on urban crime and law genres racked up a stack of award nominations - including a 2003 NZ TV Award for best drama series. Although initially wary that the Auckland setting might alienate viewers, writer Greg McGee chose a Samoan lawyer (Jay Laga’aia) as his main character, to exploit the show’s inner-city Ponsonby setting (where cafe society bumps into Pacific Island immigrant culture). Other key characters included Silesi’s lawyer ex-girlfriend Joni, and her new partner Kees, an overstressed sergeant.
One of a trio of late 90s Kiwi crime-based pilots, Street Legal was the only one that would successfully spawn a series - four series, in fact (though Kevin Smith vehicle Lawless saw two further tele-movies). The Street Legal pilot provides a stylish big city template for the show to come, as Auckland criminal lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga-aia) enlists the help of an over- enthusiastic journalist (Sara Wiseman) in the hope of winning an out-of-court settlement over a hit and run case. Meanwhile Silesi's lawyer girlfriend smells something fishy - with good reason.