The latest venture in to the dark-side of fairytales has proven widely successful as viewers and fans have embraced NBC’s supernatural thriller series GRIMM. To talk a bit about the show, stars David Giuntoli, who plays Detective Nick Burkhardt, and Russell Hornsby, who plays his partner Detective Hank Griffin, chatted with the press in a recent conference call about what drew them to the show and what they are looking forward to as the series continues.
How do you have to approach the character of Hank Griffin, since he’s not part of the mythology or a fairy tale element of the show?
RUSSELL: Since there are two elements of the show, I’m greatly steeped in the procedural element, and I live in that world. So, for me, that makes it a lot easier for Russell the actor and for Hank to just focus on the procedural elements of the show. I think as we move on further down the line in more episodes, I think the character will become a little bit more curious and a little bit interested as to how things are sort of changing in the city itself with a lot of these crimes that are being committed. But, overall, it’s just keeping my feet on the ground as far as the procedural real world elements are concerned.
In the first two episodes, Nick really hasn’t had any problem hiding his Grimm ability from Hank. Hank has just gone along with Nick’s hunches. How does it play out going forward? Is it going to become an issue for the partnership?
DAVID: Yes, I think as the series goes on it becomes more and more difficult for my character to keep these two worlds separate. In the first several episodes, they’re fairly separated. The monsters are only going after a different perpetrator and not very much me. But once they come after me and my life — and my life includes the precinct and my life includes being at home with Juliette — I don’t want to give too much away — so it becomes a little more difficult for me to keep this lie going.
RUSSELL: Well, from my perspective, I mean I’m totally in the dark. So as things sort of open up, it becomes a little bit more interesting for my character to discover just new elements of the story. But again, I think my character starts to see that things are just getting a little weirder in the city, and he’s just seeing the type of crimes that are being committed are a little bit out of the ordinary. So I don’t know what the future holds, as far as my character finding out about Nick’s ability, we’ll just leave that up to the writers and we’ll all just have to tune in.
Nick and Hank are partners, but then Nick also has a separate partnership with Monroe. Is there any chance that we’re going to see these three get together on cases, or is it still going to be like separate relationships?
DAVID: Oh, I don’t want Hank to know about Monroe and the Monroe/Nick relationship. I don’t want him to know about that. However, the three of us do get together from time-to-time or happen to be in the same room from time-to-time. And in one case we use Monroe’s expertise as a watchmaker and a clockmaker on the case, and I kind of have to reluctantly have all three of us together in the same room, and yeah, drama ensues.
What is the most challenging thing about the show for you?
RUSSELL: I don’t have a challenge for the character necessarily. I think, right now, the biggest challenge is just the time and the shooting schedule itself. We shoot very late at night and sometimes early into the next day, so I think just the schedule, the turnaround is probably one of the most challenging things right now.
DAVID: I’d say what Russell said is certainly true — it’s a wonderful job that we work — really long hours. In TV and movies you often film like the climax of the episode first thing that day, and then the first scene of the episode right after the climax, so it’s all out of order. So it’s very difficult to remember exactly where you are in the story of that episode. And then, the greater story arcs is a little easier — but just remembering where you are in the story all the time.
Could talk a little bit about how you both initially became involved in the project and the audition process for your respective roles on the show?
DAVID: It was kind of the run of the mill process for me. In pilot season you get two script sent to you and if you’re lucky you get to kind of whittle down the projects you’re interested in, and GRIMM was one of the immediate things that my attention kind of honed-in on. I actually worked with the Director, Marc Buckland before. I worked with him on a show called LOVE BITES like two months prior to the casting process for GRIMM. And also, the producers knew who I was because I worked on their show HOT IN CLEVELAND last year. So already it’s nice to be kind of highlighted in that way. You’re a cut above the rest, and so you’re not like a number. They know you personally, so that helps a lot. They brought me in, and I read for the producers and Marc Buckland and they’re like, “Okay, can you test next week,” and testing’s like the big. It’s you and five other people that they want for the role, so that happened. And then, I heard they were going to try to offer it out to like a big movie star and I freaked out and then they didn’t, and then we did the test process. And they called me when I was driving away from the audition and told me I got the role. I had to pull over because I thought I was going to run my car into like a house because I was just was so excited.
RUSSELL: I think for me it was I had a few fans in the room from my work on HBO’s IN TREATMENT, and again they knew my work just as an actor, but I think the biggest question for me was, could I handle the more lighter elements, the more comedic elements of the show? And so, sort of going in there and auditioning I think that was one of the things that they wanted to see if I could handle, and I guess I handled it, which has really been a lot of fun for me, to find that lighter side of Russell and the lighter side of Hank.
DAVID: It was fun. I got to help out in the auditioning process. I got to be in the room when they were casting some of the other parts, and so I got to watch some of your auditions, Russell.
When you first heard about the idea of GRIMM, what was your initial reaction?
RUSSELL: That it would either be very cool or very silly. I mean, quite honestly, you’re reading it and you’re saying, “Wow, this could be really cool, like I would love to work on this show.” But then, the other part of you goes, “Wow, how will this work?” And you just hope that you have, smart people in the writing room and wonderful directors and very creative minds behind it, which we do have. And I think we’ve been the former, which is we’ve come up with something that’s very cool. I mean, I thought the concept was fun, definitely a different spin on the procedural and on the fantasy. And I think their idea of enveloping the fairy tales with the real world, it’s really what inspired me to really want to be a part of the show.
Has there been anything that you’ve been surprised to learn about yourselves while developing your characters for the show?
RUSSELL: I didn’t realize that I had a sense of humor. I’ve always been used to doing really intense dramas all my career up to this point. And the writers have weaved some wonderful funny moments and bits and a lot of levity in to script and into my character, and it’s actually a lot of fun to play. So I’m not as dower and dark as I normally am in the other roles.
DAVID: Thank you for that because it’s going to perfectly just the opposite, like I feel I’ve had to be very forceful — very authoritarian and forceful, I guess would be the word — in various episodes. And because these Grimm’s creatures — one of the wonderful things about our show is the creatures have been raised to fear me — they run away from me when they see me on the street — my character Nick, who’s just supposed to this like nice guy, a detective with a family. So their response to me doesn’t sync with my identity on the show, and as the show goes on I try to kind of fill that role and actually become this fearful enemy of the Grimms when they’re around. So that’s been very fun to play.
Can you talk a little bit about your relationship on and off screen? You have good chemistry on screen. So can you talk a little bit about your relationship and what you think the other brings to the particular role?
DAVID: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, first and foremost, we have a wonderful chemistry. I think it’s been great. Our entire cast has really gelled nicely off screen, as well as on screen. But Russell and I, from my point of view, it’s just been an honor working with him because he’s a youthful veteran of the world of theater and acting. So I’ve learned so much from him. It’s just like, as far the trade goes and the craft, between him and Silas just getting to spend so many hours with them, it’s like going to master class.
RUSSELL: I mean, the joy of working with David, David’s a very smart, intelligent actor and has a wonderful approach to the work as well, which is totally the opposite of my approach. So it’s been wonderful to sort of watch how he approached the material and just learning from that. And also, he has a great sense of humor. So we’re able to like wisecrack on set and it makes the day go by a lot faster just being able to work with somebody who has a sense of humor, who takes himself seriously, but not too seriously, but is definitely talented, but also engaged in the work.
How is the role of Hank going to differ from the other cops roles that you have played?
RUSSELL: I actually think this character Hank has a more interesting personality. It’s a more well-rounded character. I’m having a lot more fun playing this role, and I think because of the concept and the show itself I’m able to sort of add different elements of Russell into the character, which makes it a lot more fun to play.
How do you feel about working in this show as it’s being kind of quasi genre? Are you comfortable with doing the genre work and is it challenge physically, as well dealing with the green screen and such?
RUSSELL: It is a challenge, and it’s the biggest challenge for me since my character doesn’t really deal in the fairy tale world as much. I mean, because of where we’re shooting in Portland — it’s forestry, it’s green, it’s lush, trees are mossy, and it gets cold and wet and rainy. And so, the biggest challenge has been trying to stay warm while trying to do your best to look cool. A lot of hand warmers and a lot of layers and whatnot help. But, I mean, we’re in the middle of the forest and we’re trying to walk through as cops looking really cool and dashing and sexy and whatnot, but we’re freezing. . . . So that’s been a lot of fun, but a big challenge because Old Man Winter just kind of comes through and tries to take you away.
DAVID: Yeah. The cold is wild. To say lines when your lips are freezing is very difficult. For me, it’s like every third episode there is some major physical altercation, and that can really wear too in the beginning. I’m like, “Oh, I can handle it. I’m young and I’m strapping.” I was humbled immediately. I mean, stunt men and women are professionals, so let them do their work. So that’s been very difficult.
RUSSELL: Yeah, I’ve had to like sort of- – I don’t try to impress like the old grizzled veteran. He was like cynical like, Krusty the Clown or something, “Hey, kids you need to make [the stunt guy], he will do that.” But there have been a couple times that David’s like, “Hey, no, I got it.” It didn’t like much fun. After the twentieth take, his knees looked like purple Kool-Aid.
DAVID: Twentieth? No, it was like three takes. I was like, “No, I’m done. This is ridiculous.”
RUSSELL: It’s like, “Hey, kid, I told you.” You know, insert cigar in mouth and anything like that, but it’s still a lot of fun.
If you got to be in the writer’s room and got to change or add one aspect to your character, what would it be?
RUSSELL: Since we’re dealing in fairy tales, like any kid, I wish I could fly. So, if they could make my character fly that would be great, and I would fly all over Jerusalem. I mean it’s just an interesting question. Sometimes I wish, especially as a detective, that that I could read somebody’s mind. That I had the power to sort of read somebody’s thoughts. Then you know, it would like “Okay, I don’t have to waste time trying to — we don’t have deal with the whole good cop, bad cop thing,” I can just kind of say, “You’re lying,” or “You know what, okay, you’re telling the truth. I’m going to let you go.” That and being a superhero would be great. I wish I could fly.
Are there any specific fairy tales that you want to see worked in? And do you have any preferences on who would play them perhaps?
DAVID: I mean there’s like 300 fairy tales that we’re working with. Any one that involves me sleeping for eight hours would be wonderful. So we’ve probably done maybe 12 different types of fairy tales that have weaved their way in and out of the show. I don’t really have a preference to one. We haven’t done a Rumpelstiltskin one. We’ve done many of the famous ones. My favorite has always been Rapunzel and we’ve already dealt with that in Episode 7, I believe, and it’s a wonderful episode that I can’t wait to see, and it’s kind of you know incorporated in a very fractured, very fractured way. It’d be difficult to figure it out as a viewer that it’s Rapunzel, but there you go. And as far as guest stars go, I mean we’ve been very lucky with some of these people who really just elevate their roles from the page to bring it to life. And as long as they keep doing that, that’s what I’m happy about.
RUSSELL: I’m saying my favorite thus far has been the Pied Piper sort of fairy tale, even though I’m afraid of rats, but I still enjoy the story. And as far as guest stars are concerned, it’s actually quite a joy to meet new and very talented actors. A lot of those names that we’re not familiar with as fellow artists and actors, but also that the community and the fans may not be familiar with as well, so it’s good to just to meet new talented people.
DAVID: Exactly. And building on that, we’ve been able to use a lot of the local Northwest talent, which is maybe they don’t get to work as much because they’re in L.A. And there have been some phenomenal actors and actresses who’ve come through Portland and Seattle and the vicinity.
To see how Nick adjusts to his new world of Grimm-responsibilities and what other twisted fairytale adventures are to be had, be sure to catch an all new episode of GRIMM tonight at 9PM on NBC (CTV in Canada)
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).