Interview with Grimm’s Silas Weir Mitchell on Season 4 and more!

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We had a chance to chat with the one and only Silas Weir Mitchell before yesterday’s episode. Read on to learn about Monroe’s and Rosalee’s problems in the Wesen community, Monroe’s name (first, last or ?), a Monrosalee baby, how things are going with Nick having no Grimm powers, and more!

Grimm - Season 4At the end of the last episode, we saw a couple of troublemakers sitting outside of the Spice Shop. What can you tell us about those guys and what their intentions might be?

Well, it’s been pretty sweet for me and the lady. The only hiccup really was my parents being a little old school as far as the inter-Wesen relationship, and we got over that hump pretty well. But I think what went down at the wedding sent kind of a bad signal out in the Wesen world. They know what’s going on, and I think there’s a lot of people who have issues with it.

And I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as it was convincing (these) people that we’re okay as it was to convince my parents. So I think there’s a target on our backs, basically.

About a half a dozen or so new characters that have been introduced since the start of the show. A lot of time when that happens, the story lines tend to get a little bit watered down. But it seems the more characters we’re getting introduced to, that the richer the storytelling becomes. Can you speak to that a little bit, about how you guys all tie it together so well?

That’s a really good question. It’s interesting because at this point now we are in the middle of season four, and I don’t take as macro a view of things because I’m really invested in my life as Monroe more than I am invested in the overarching narrative structure. So I can answer your question only from my point view and through my lens.

But what I see in relation to that question is first of all, the show runners David and Jim really have a very, very strong sense of what makes the show work. The mixture of dark story lines and comedic elements and marrying the real world that we live in with the world of Wesens who represent elements of our psyches. And they have a way of marrying these things so that when more people are involved, I think what happens is they are such good writers that they’re able to integrate these people into the world – and the world is more important than anything else.

When new characters are introduced, in fact they distill things further rather than dilute them. And I know that’s some kind of magic trick of writing, because I know what you mean. It’s just – they don’t dilute it, they don’t diffuse it – somehow they use the new characters really well in order to clarify story lines rather confiscate them.

And I don’t know how they do it except that they have a very strong grasp of what makes the show work. Right now it feels as though we have about six story lines chugging along, and each story line is very, very tightly wound. They choose when to integrate those story lines with each other or when to keep them separate.

Like with Adalind, I don’t really know what’s going on. She goes away and then she reintegrates into the other story lines, and they’re just very good at doing this dance. I don’t know how they do it but they do it.

So you mentioned people are going to have a problem with them being married. Can you talk about if that is going to make it hard on their relationship or does it not bother them too much?

As I was saying to the last question; one of the things that these writers are able to do is marry the world that we live in, you and I, with the world of Grimm where you can paint these psychological social issues with a kind of richer brush than you can if you’re completely bound to reality or our reality.

So this mixture that they’ve come up with allows for this type of storytelling, and I think that it will be complicated for us as characters, because that’s true to life.

What’s ahead for Monroe and Rosalee? Sometimes in shows, the focus is more on will they or won’t they get married. Now that they’re married and they know they have some people  not happy with them, but how are they going to keep their storyline exciting?

Well I think for me and her, it was pretty much not even will they or won’t they – it was when are they. And people still seemed interested, so that’s a good sign right there. Because I think the will they or won’t they is something that sustains shows to a fault sometimes, where it becomes just a big tease. We didn’t do the big tease thing. We did a these people falling in love thing, and that’s a different story. It may not have the cutesy will they or won’t they but – it holds a different kind of interest for people.

I think that people are interested even though they know what’s going to happen, which is that we’re going to be together. I think people pretty much knew we were going to be together. Then I don’t think they’re going to have a hard time being interested in the complications that follow.

And there will be complications, and they’re not going to, I don’t think, soft-peddle them. These writers are interested in real stuff. Even though the show is “a fairy tale” show, our writers are very interested in real human stuff. And that’s what makes the show interesting.

Any word on a Monroe/Rosalee baby?

No. But whenever I’m asked that question, I just say Vorherrsch, and you can figure that out.
There was an episode when we had to explain to Nick and Hank what would happen if we had a kid. And the upshot is a thing called a Vorherrsch, which is a mixture of two different Wesen having a baby. I don’t know what it means, but that’s the word.

What are your feelings about Wu? Do you think that they should tell him what’s been going on and clue him in, or do you think they should try to keep him in the dark about it?

 Well that’s a good question. In a lot of ways Wu – he’s already been through the wringer  pretty big time as far as having his mind really messed with when the Aswang – when they were dealing with that because of the Filipino nature of that myth – he always thought it was a fairy tale, and then he starts to see that maybe it’s actually true. So in some ways there’s a fertile ground there for him maybe being able to deal with these things in a way.

But on the other hand it could send him over the edge. So I just think that whatever happens Nick and Hank will have to be very deliberate as far as how they handle it with Wu. He obviously keeps pushing, then they’re going to have to make a decision – and the decision’s going to be based on what’s going to be best for Wu. Will he lose his mind completely or will he be able to handle it? Because he’s already sort of been down that road.

What are some of the challenges of being on a show in its fourth season? Good challenges and what are the great parts of being on a show that’s lasted this long?

I would say mostly it’s great stuff because what’s great about it is, like I said is manifold reasons why it’s great. Primarily it’s that we’re a pretty well-oiled machine now so there’s not a lot of distractions. You can economize the way you work in the sense that you know where all the locations are. You know the city, to get around the city. The crew is really at the top of their game.

So when the machine is humming along it makes it easier to do better work. So that’s one of the great things about it. The only real challenge about it (and this isn’t a challenge that I face) – it’s for the writers to keep the thing fresh. And I think they’re doing a bang-up job of that. But that’s not my problem, so to speak.

I take what they give me and I do my best to make it real and have fun with it. But I don’t have to worry about story lines. I just live the life they give me to live. So for me it’s really all upside.

I have to ask because it’s come up from a number of fans. The writers teased for a long time with Wu’s name. So are we ever going to find out if Monroe is the first or last name? Is that coming and do you know?

If I knew I wouldn’t tell you. How’s that for a riddle?

Was it difficult to have to play your character when he’s being persecuted for an inter-Wesen marriage?

No, it’s not. It’s exciting. Because it’s a different, it’s a different life experience that I’m getting to live and that’s the fun of the whole game. It’s just living different life experiences and that’s the fun of being an actor. So I was looking forward to things getting sticky and difficult, because like I said earlier, I think the only real hiccup last year on the way to the altar was my dad being a jerk. And that’s not that big of a deal.

This is a much bigger deal. And I tell you, a lot of things that are smaller in magnitude than having a Grimm be on the altar with you at the wedding have happened that have led to terrible things. So that’s a big deal. When that gets out in the world, not only the inter-Wesen thing but the fact that we’re friends with a Grimm and if that gets known it’s trouble.

So I think it’s just going to be ugly. And I’m excited about it because – that’s fun to play.

Through the years you have played several mentally unstable characters. Is that a coincidence or do you pursue these types of roles?

I think it’s more of a coincidence than anything, but I have to admit that I find it very interesting to live a life that is very, very other than the life I live as a man when I’m in stories. And I think that one of the things that makes a person’s life very, very different is what goes on inside their psyche.

So it may be partly coincidental, maybe partly just because of the way I look. But I don’t seek it out per se, but I find it fascinating and I do enjoy it. I don’t know if you’ve seen the film Birdman yet, but that is also investigating the inner life of a person who is seeing the world in a very, very unique way. And I just find that very exciting as an actor.

We’ve gotten some pretty gnarly holiday episodes in the past on Grimm. What do we have coming up for us with the Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays?

Pretty gnarly episodes. You know, I still miss Krampus. I think he was just one of the best. I loved that guy. I thought he was awesome. I’m just trying to remember here. I think that Christmas is interrupted by other events than a Christmas-oriented Wesen this year. I mean there’s still Christmas and it’s big. God knows, can’t be otherwise. But the complications involved aren’t specifically Christmas-related.

After four seasons you’ve obviously worked with most of the cast, but is there somebody in particular that maybe you haven’t had a lot of scenes with that you’d like to get to work more with?

Yes, definitely – and the two would be Sasha and Reggie. I’ve worked even more with the Captain than I have with Sergeant Wu. And I remember the first scene that the Captain and I had together and it was so much fun to get these two people with completely different energies who’ve never been in the same room together practically. He came to the Spice Shop and to get some stuff to keep him from being in love with Juliette. And it was a delight to get to have Monroe and the cast in the room dealing with it – it was really fun.

I think that it would be fun to get more with Wu and Monroe just because Reggie’s fantastic and we work in similar ways and we haven’t had a lot of stuff to do together. We were actually in the same class in Los Angeles when we both got this job. We were working together on a scene from a play. So we know each other pretty well and it would be fun to actually get to work with him more.

Will the gang have any luck restoring Nick’s Grimm powers? It looks like Renard’s Mom’s getting pretty close to having a breakthrough.

Yes. That’s going to be a challenge. I mean he’s been Hexenbiested so that’s brutal – they’re powerful creatures. They’re powerful women. And I think it’s going to be fun to watch him struggle for a little while. Just got to watch him squirm a little bit.

What’s it been like to play the dynamics between Monroe and Nick with him not being a Grimm? Has that been fun to play as well?

Oh yes, it’s been totally great because there are so many issues that have arisen in the absence of his powers for me and Rosalee. He got me into all this crap and now he can’t protect me.

I love the guy, but now I’m kind of out on a limb. He feels bad, and I feel bad for feeling angry. And I feel bad for him. But I’m also scared and angry, and it’s great. There’s a lot of stuff swirling around in the soup.

And again it’s just the writers are finding ways of re-imagining things. They’re still fresh and they’re still interesting for us – and hopefully for you guys, too. Definitely I enjoy playing the dynamic of Nick is a broken man at this point. And it’s fun…

I actually really love the relationship between Monroe and Rosalee. But I love just the chemistry between you and Bree Turner too. It’s so fantastic. Can you talk about working with her and how that’s actually developed over these four seasons?

It’s just one of those things where you’re lucky to get to work with someone who works similarly. We’re both invested in having a real experience. And the story is the most important thing. It’s fun to play pretend at a high level.

We play pretend until it becomes real on a certain level, and it’s just nice to have a partner who shares that ethic. That’s just the luck of the draw, really. But it’s been delightful. It’s one of those things where it could have gone either way. Luckily it went the way of two people who work well together. That’s just luck really.

You’ve got to credit casting. They put a group of people together that do well together. I mean all of us do well together. There’s no strife. People show up to work and have fun doing it and we respect each other. It’s a nice brew of psyches in there. She’s just one element of it.

What do you think that makes Grimm attractive for people in different countries?

 I think there are two main reasons why Grimm has a global following. First of all, it deals with universal themes because everybody has these elements of their psyche – Grimm deals with mythical issues in a very, very detailed and human way. So that’s one reason; that the themes are mythical and universal.

The other reason is it’s using fairytales from different cultures. Every culture has its own myths. Every culture has its own fairytales. Every culture has its own spooky stories, its own creature stories. And so, again, this is sort of the sub-set of the universal thing. Everybody has it.

It’s not a show about the fashion industry on the Upper East Side of New York City which only a certain sub-section of society knows or cares about. It’s dealing with something that every culture deals with, which is myth and storytelling, and it’s appealing for that reason to a pretty large set of the human population.

In last week’s episode, Juliette came to Monroe and Rosalee and asked them to let Nick take his time about deciding about his future as far as wanting to go back to being a Grimm. How has that affected Monroe’s and Rosalee’s relationship with Juliette? How have you seen that develop in the episodes you guys have shot?

It’s one of those things where you understand where she’s coming from because God knows I’m sure it ain’t easy living with a guy who’s dealing with what Nick is dealing with when he has his powers.

But there’s a conflict, because him being (de-Grimmed) is not good for us. He’s our eyes and ears in a lot of ways, and he can help us with the people who think that what’s going on between us and him is not right.

So it’s complicated because you’re conflicted, and you’re conflicted because you want one thing and your friend’s girlfriend wants another thing. And that’s life. You have to kind of find a way to navigate that. So it does complicate the relationship with Juliette.

It doesn’t destroy it. It’s not a tragic thing, but it’s complicated, and again this is credit to the writers for writing subtle stuff. But those that don’t watch the show don’t understand that it’s actually got this kind of subtle human sub-text to it. But thankfully the people who do watch it get it, and that’s why we’re still making it.

Did you always want to work in this industry while you were growing up? Or did you have other professions in mind?

It was one of those things where I took to it, you know? I didn’t really think about it as a profession per se probably until I was in college. But it was always something that I enjoyed a lot and I was good at. And when people tell you you’re good at something when you’re a kid, you tend to keep doing it.

I was interested in other things – teaching I was interested in, psychology I was interested in. But I never pursued any other career because this continued and continues to interest me. Because it’s always just out of your reach. That’s what’s delightful about it. You can always do more. You can always be better. You can always have a deeper, richer, more textured experience. As an actor you’re never finished.

As long as something continues to interest you and to feed you, then why would you stop? That’s just my experience and in no way am I suggesting that people don’t say like, okay I got it, I’m done, I’m doing something else. And maybe that will happen to me some day.

But at this point I still find it sort of magical and complicated and intangible. And I enjoy that about it.

Thanks again to Silas for his time – we can’t wait to see what else will happen with Monroe this season!

Vicki Dolenga