Interview with Grimm’s David Giuntoli

By: Vicki Dolenga
david giuntoli grimm interview

Apparently we’ve been good this year here at Three If By Space, because we got to chat with the star of Grimm, David Giuntoli, just before the holidays! He was gregarious as always, and he gave us a little insight into the upcoming Grimm Christmas episode (no spoilers – if you’ve seen the preview, you’re set) and what Nick’s been going through in Season 3.

Grimm - Season 3

First, I have to say, I really loved the finale, especially the Krampus episode. It’s nice to see something completely different for a Christmas story.

Who knew Santa had horns?

Yes. Who knew? Obviously, most of the stories are based on fairy tales and folklore and, but recently you had the episode with the boy who seemed to be possessed originally (Stories We Tell Our Young). Do you like that they’ve done something different? Are you looking forward to more of that, or do you prefer the more normal-type folklore stories?

 Well, I think that kind of throws a curve ball into what the audience is expecting is good for the show. I think that what we’ve done on Grimm is originally I was passed a book that had all these fairy tales in it, and that was what our episodes were based on.

But as the show grows, as does the character Nick, and you discover that some of these other phenomena that take place in the world haven’t yet been added to the book of fairy tales, but they are being added by Nick now. So we are taking other myths and folklore and otherwise just kind of stories that have been told and putting the little Grimm spin behind them now, so I enjoy that.

The first part of the finale is about alligators in the sewers, and obviously that kind of plays on you know a childhood fear of some people. Is there aything like that you were scared of when you were little?

I get this question so much. What was I afraid of? I was just afraid of ghosts. I couldn’t handle the thought of them and I felt constantly watched and it was like the worst thing in the world. But no, I didn’t have the fear of that – of creatures coming in through the toilet.

What is the hardest thing your character has been has had to deal with in this series in terms of the Wesen?

The creatures get more difficult and more difficult to deal with. I’m trying to think of what the strongest creature would be.

Our show’s much like Mario Brothers. But just like every level, they just get stronger, and stronger, and stronger, so obviously in Season 3 I’m dealing with some over-the-top, resilient, ruthless Wesen.

Krampus is pretty wild. When I walked onto set and I saw the actor dressed… first of all, we hired a gigantic guy to play this character. And then when I saw him as Santa with these horns, I actually had a visceral reaction to him. I was kind of frightened in a way. It was a disturbing thing.

Some of the grossest things I’ve seen are the corpses when they’re all set and bloodied. The craziest thing I ever saw was walking on the set and seeing in a car a body being eaten alive from the inside by live rats, and rats were pouring out of this mouth of this dummy and it was awful. And my colleague Russell Hornsby ran away like a scared little boy.

There’s some other stuff too. I think the most difficult thing for me was the initial discovery that I was a Grimm and that this whole other world was out there. It’s something we play on in the series a lot. Whenever anybody else finds out who’s not ready to find out about the world of Grimm, it’s very delicate because mental institutions are lined with people who weren’t ready to see something, and they did.

So that’s the most difficult part I think emotionally of the season – or of the whole show – was finding out that I was a Grimm. And then Hank had to find that out. And then later on in the season, maybe someone else is going to find that out. But you think you’re going crazy and that’s the most difficult thing for the character to deal with.

Are you referring to a regular character?

Hey, who knows? Who knows? It’s a teaser. We’re filming an episode right now where somebody else sees something for the first time.

In the first half of Friday’s season finale, a lot of it takes place in the sewers. Did you guys actually do some shooting down there in Portland?

Yes, we did actually. We did some trickery, of course. We went into an actual sewer in Portland and then we shot on a sound stage that we built a sewer on. But yes, I got to look like a actual man for once in my life and had a little sewer suit on. Little hard hat. Got my little soft city hands down a ladder into a sewer.

Nick went through a big change at the beginning of the season with becoming a zombie, and there’s some… residual effects. Are we going to get more of that as we come back after the break?

Oh, yes. Yes. We’re going to be playing on this one for a little while. It’s funny. Every time Nick gets harmed, he’s left with a kind of useful side effect, and we’re going to definitely be seeing more of that after the break.

Grimm has kind of moved from a niche show – and there’s nothing wrong with being a niche show – but it seems to have gone from niche to slow build. Have you sensed any of that at all?

Yes, that’s a really good question. I have noticed that, and I don’t know if it’s completely based upon the fact that the show’s been on the air for two years now, so more and more people have encountered it just based on that.

But I’ve noticed when you’re an actor, or maybe if you’re you guys – I don’t know if you pay attention to this stuff as much, but right after we air it, the next morning it’s like, “Oh, what’s our rating,” you know?

And it’s funny – our demographic is staying more or less the same – but the total amount of viewers has been going up. Like this last episode we’ve had, it was the most viewers we’ve had since the pilot, and that’s kind of a trend.

So I have noticed that. I have noticed more and more non-sci-fi types you know, and I include myself in the sci-fi type, more and more kind of middle-of-the-roaders coming up to me and talking to me and knowing about the show.

But there’s a real trend towards what I would call creepy TV right now… just that kind of suspenseful TV. And you guys are kind of at the forefront of that.

That’s our only rule. That’s our only rule is we want to be that brand of creepy, and we love being a Friday night, stay in and kind of freak out the kids kind of show. It’s what we love.

And yet, oh my gosh, I see so many other shows popping up, some more successful than others, some better than others. But when I’ll read about the next kind of fairytale spin show or modern day blah-blah-blah show, I have this little sense of pride – unfounded reality. I didn’t create the show, but I do have a little sense of, “Oh, we’ve been doing this for years, you guys. Get on board.”

It’s been interesting watching everything that’s been happening with the Royals and Adalind, and I’m wondering – as you guys move into the second half of the season, is there one person that’s going to emerge as the villain?

The writers have done a very good job of this – what I like to call the slow reveal. We still have probably two or three contenders for the villain. One definitely – we have kind of a new character that emerges who is one of the I’d say two villains, but we have a new character who is one of the greater villains that we’re going to have on the show. But, I still place the Captain as a possible villain, anddefinitely Adalind as a villain, and then there’s one more guy who’s showing up here soon.

What else can you tell us about Grimm’s take on Christmas?

We just ruin it. We just ruin Christmas for everybody. There’s an actual legend of Krampus out there, and we’ve had German people asking us to do Krampus over and over again, and we finally tipped our hat to the fine people of Bavaria and we’re bringing this legend to life. We ruin Christmas for everybody, and it’s gory and it’s wonderful.

Your relationship with Juliette has had so many rocky problems in the first two seasons and, it seems to be going just a little too smoothly this season – except for the whole zombie thing. Are we about to see some more problems between you guys, or are you guys going to live happily ever after?

Oh, there’s no way we’re going to live happily ever after. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but if there is a relationship – it is the job of the writers of America to tear it apart, at least temporarily. So I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can guarantee you there’s going to be something thrown into the works here. I just don’t know what that is yet.

In one of the episodes that’s going to air on Friday, you pulled out yet another new weapon from your arsenal, and I was wondering if there’s any one in particular that you really loved playing with? Is it kind of like getting to be a kid, to play with all these fun things?

That’s the one that had like the knife that shot out of it, right? That was really cool. I’ve always been a huge fan of the crossbow. It’s so great for those little sexy director moments where they pan up and then you see the eyes above the crossbow. I just think that’s seems so cool. This weapon would be my favorite. I can’t remember what it’s called off the top of my head right now. I feel ashamed. But it’s rare that I get a weapon that actually has some type of functioning mechanism on it, and this was really cool.

Earlier in the season when Nick was staring to deal with the aftermath of the zombie period, Captain Renard asked a very interesting question about what the problem was with killing a human versus killing Wesen. Is that going to ever come up again? Are you aware of it?

Yes, it will. It will come up again. The Captain and I – you know, it’s a very good point that somehow Nick never really thought of, but it will come up again. It’ll be a theme that is addressed. And I thought it was kind of cool because I was waiting for somebody to bring that up.

With Nick’s new-found super hearing and his ability to appear dead, do you think that this is something he will learn to control over time, or is it something that you think may put his life in danger?

At this point he does not control it at all, so he certainly can use his hearing to his advantage, but this dead thing… I don’t think he knows where it comes from yet. It is certainly not something that he can kind of pull out of his bag of tricks at his own whim. It either helps him or it hurts him at this point.

Is there anything special about these stories with Latin American myths that you like?

Yes, absolutely. Let’s just be practical here – there are so many viewers of these episodes, for whatever reason. When we did La Llorona, we got I think our second highest rated episode that we’ve ever done, and we were like, “Oh, wow, maybe there’s a trick here.”

But what I really do love, and I said it before, is taking actual folklore, stuff that people really grow up being afraid of, that they hear about all the time, not that there aren’t plenty of stories in the Grimm’s fairytales that we could go to that we haven’t gone to yet, but they’re not really stories that have made it into the cultural conversation, or don’t enter your homes through your parents telling you about them.

And there are plenty of other stories that do enter your family life as a child or whatever that are not Grimm’s fairytales. So what I really love about these things like La Llorona and El Cucuy are they’re actually part of the folklore of a lot of people, and we get to just add that to the Grimm’s fairytale book now.

Yes, and we also get to utilize Bitsie’s Spanish speaking, and I think they’re kind of somehow richer and more realistic, so I do enjoy them. They’ve been very strong episodes, both of them.

What’s it like now that almost everyone knows Nick is a Grimm? Is it nice that you no longer have to hide this from Juliette and Hank, and the whole gang can like work together now?

Yes. I think the show is better for having several more people know about Nick being a Grimm. There are still some people in the dark that I don’t want it to be revealed to just yet. The show can never become a big happy family. There needs to be a lot of problems. There are responsibilities and dangers that come with knowing about this world, and those who have found out who are not either Wesen or Grimm… there are dangers that come with that, and that’s going to be explored in this season.

There’s a reason Nick doesn’t tell everybody. It’s not safe for me, the more standard, ‘normal’ human beings that know about this. But, I am happy that a couple more characters are in this circle, so to speak. I think it opens up a lot of new character dynamics, different people who can interact with each other for the first time. And I love those big dinner scenes where we’re looking at gory, bloody pictures and drinking red wine and kind of discussing it from all these different points of views. Fuchsbau. Wesen. Juliette. Grimm. Hank. I think it’s fun.

Can you tease a bit about what’s ahead in the European side of the story?

Yes. There’s going to be a big plotline that’s going on in Europe. Nick is not too involved with it, at least through mid-season, though I know that’s going to start changing soon. So we have the Verrat and we have the Royals. These are all bad guys. The Verrat I see as kind of the SS, and the Royals, such as Captain Renard, and his cousin, who’s being introduced as Alexis Denisof, a great actor, will be having a major conflict overseas. His cousin wants to get me and access to me – and he comes very close very soon.

And then we have the resistance, a group of rag-tag people trying to overthrow the Royals, so we’ll be meeting some new characters overseas doing that kind of thing… as well as keeping an eye on Adalind.

We’ll be doing quite a bit abroad. The passports have all been stamped, so we’re overseas quite a bit.

How have you seen your character further grow and develop this season? And with that growth, what new acting challenges have you discovered with the character?

I think he’s become far more confident. I kind of decided this year I’m not afraid of Wesen anymore. They’re not something that’s going to scare me.

What does scare me to this day is what happens to my loved ones if I don’t stop the Wesen, so that’s where the struggle comes in.

I also see myself now as the only person who has like the rare blood to solve some of these cases. So the stakes are raised in a different way now. I’m not afraid of the creatures, but I know it’s on me to take care of this case or this next case… like no one else can figure this thing out because they can’t see anything that I can see.

I don’t know if there’s an acting struggle in there, but you have to make the decision of what is keeping my character so highly invested in each one of those cases, and that’s a decision I made.

But yes, the newest thing, where Nick is now is he’s very confident – I should say more than just confident –  he is kind of settled into his role. There’s no reluctance there anymore… and he’s willing to go rogue more often.

I’ve noticed that this season we’re starting to see increasing tension between Rosalee and Monroe concerning loyalty to Nick. And then also you alluded to the Captain as well. Are we going to see Nick eventually lose two members of his support team?

You’ll see some wavering, I’ll say that. I don’t want to say I lose them altogether. But things are starting to get questioned. Is Nick using Monroe? I just shot an episode where that’s the central theme, and there’s a big falling out between Monroe and I. And it’s great because… am I using Monroe? And in the episode that’s what I ask. I’m sitting with Juliette. I’m like, “I don’t know. He’s right. I think he’s right.” I think it’s kind of cool that this stuff’s coming to the surface in Season 3.

What is your favorite Wesen that Nick has confronted over the years and why?

It’s got to be Blutbad. They’re like Labradors – they’re so loyal, to a fault. I’ve forged this bond with Monroe. It’s fantastic. And then I would say the Dämonfeuer because they’re just so fun to look at.

Now that we’re a few seasons in, are you happy that you’re a Grimm, or would you rather be a Wesen?

I love being a Grimm. I feel like I live inside the character now. I just get it. I know where he’s coming from. You sit with a character for long enough… that’s the beauty of having a television show that’s running. You don’t even have to try anymore. You just kind of know how he would react to a certain situation.

And you probably can’t get that in movies, or even theater sometimes. We spend so much more time with these characters, so I like being a Grimm. I’m sure I would love being a Wesen too if I were one. But right now, a Grimm’s just fine with me.

Grimm - Season 3

Thanks again to David, and don’t forget to tune in for the 2 episode fall finale this Friday!


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