Interview with David Giuntoli & Russell Hornsby from Grimm

David Giuntoli & Russell Hornsby recently spoke to the press about their roles on NBC’s new hit drama, Grimm.

David plays Nick, just a normal, regular police detective, until he starts seeing things—everyday people flashing a creepy/scary/strange face, like a wolf or demon-like creature. When his aunt comes to visit out of the blue, she admits that she’s dying and she has to tell him a secret. Apparently, Nick is a hunter—a Grimm—of supernatural creatures.

Russell plays Hank, Nick’s partner on the police force. He doesn’t know Nick’s secret or even that the supernatural creatures exist outside of fairytales. The show is inspired by the classic Brothers Grimm stories.

Jump with me to read all the great questions & answers!

On the most challenging aspects of playing their characters or on the show itself

Russell Hornsby: You know, I mean, I think the – I don’t the character – I don’t have a challenge for the character necessarily, it’s – I think right now the biggest challenge is just the time and the shooting schedule itself. You know, 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 Giuntoli: I’d say what Russell said is certainly true. It’s a wonderful job that they work, you know, really long hours, but in TV you film – you know, 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 at the story (arc) of that episode.

And then, the greater story (arcs) a little easier, but just remembering where you are in the story all the time.

On how he approaches Hank, who isn’t in the know for all the mythology stuff

Russell: Well, I – well, since we do – since there are two elements of the show, I’m more – I’m greatly steeped in the procedural element. And you know I just, you know, lived – I live in that world, and so for me that makes it a lot easier for Russell the actor and for Hank to just to make – 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 (unintelligible) 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 – me just really being – keeping my feet on the ground as far as the procedural real world elements are concerned.

On how hard it is going to be & how it will affect the partnership for Nick to hide everything

David: I’ll take the first – I’ll give my answer. This is David Giuntoli. Yes, I think as the series goes on it becomes more and more difficult for my character to keeps these two worlds separate. In the first several episodes, it’s – they’re fairly separated. The monsters are only going after a different perpetrator or – and not very much me.

And so, (the one) that start to come after me and my life, and my life includes the precinct and my life includes being at home with Juliette. And then, they start going after maybe, I don’t want to give too much away, some of my loved ones, 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, you know, just new elements of the show, but I – of the story. But again, I think my character starts to see, again as I said in the previous question, 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 – but I mean as it stands, I don’t think I’ll ever – well, 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 sort of – we’ll all just have to tune in.

On what fairytales they might like to see worked in & who they would like to play them

David: I mean there’s like 300 fairy tales that we’re working with. I – any one that involves me sleeping for eight hours would be wonderful. I think that – 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 truly.

We’re getting – we’ve done many of the famous ones. My favorite has always been Rapunzel and we’ve already (dealt) with that in Episode 107, 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’s very difficult to – 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 – the roles from the page to bring it to life. And as long as they keep doing that, you know that’s what I’m happy about.

Russell: 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 – or very new and very talented actors, you know what I mean? The people – 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. I mean (unintelligible)…

David: Exactly. And we also – building on that it’s – 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.

On what they have been surprised to learn about themselves as they play their characters

Russell: I didn’t realize that I had a sense of humor. You know, I was – I’ve always been used to doing really intense dramas all my career, up to this point. And you know 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. So yeah, that – I can sort of be liked as (unintelligible)…

David: And I guess…thank you for that because it’s going to perfectly (just oppose), like I feel like I can – I’ve had to be very forceful and very, you know like authoritarian and forceful, I guess would be the word, in various episodes. And – because these Grimm’s creatures, one of the wonderful thing about our show is the creatures have been raised to fear me. Fear – you know, they run away from me when they see me on the street.

And 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 – or of the creatures when they’re around, so that’s been very fun to play.

On the chemistry & friendship between them on and off-screen

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, you know, he’s, as I like to say, he’s a youthful veteran of the world of theater and acting.

So, I’ve learned so much from him. It’s just like, you know, as far the trade goes and the craft, and you know between him and Silas just getting to spend so many hours with them, it’s like going to – you know it’s like going to master class.

Russell: And, you know, I mean the joy of working with David, David’s a very smart, intelligent actor and has a wonderful, you know, approach to the work, you know, 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 you know we sort of – we’re able to like wisecrack, you know on set and it – you know it makes the day go by a lot faster, you know…

David: Yeah.

Russell: …just being able to work with somebody who has a sense of humor, takes himself seriously, but not too seriously, but is definitely talented, but also engaged in the work.

On how his role as a cop in Grimm differs from his previous law enforcement roles

Russell: Yeah, well, I think that – I actually think this character Hank has a – more of a – a more interesting personality, I think. It’s a more well-rounded character. You know, it’s – and it’s – I’m having a lot more fun playing this role, and I think because of the concept and the show itself I’m just – I’m able to sort of, you know, add different elements of Russell, you know, into the character, which makes it a lot more fun to play.

You know, and the difference with, you know, the character on Lincoln Heights, which was more recent, and this was more of a – you know a father knows best sort of police officer, you know where now I’m sort of the Man Friday, if you will.

On how they became involved with the show

David: Okay, I – you know, it was kind of the run of the mill process for me. The pilot season you get two script sent to you and you kind of – if you’re lucky you get to kind of whittle down the projects you’re interested in, and Grimm was one of the, you know, immediate things that I – my attention kind of honed in on.

I actually worked with the Director. I – the Director is the one who called me in to audition for this. I – his name’s Marc Buckland, 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 kind of – you know 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, I read for the producers and Marc Buckland and they’re like, “Okay, can you test next week,” and testing’s like the big – you know it’s you and five other people that they want for the role, so that happened. And then, I heard they like 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, and 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 – and I think for me it was I had a few fans in the room from my work on HBO’s In Treatment, so – and again they knew my work just as an actor, but I think the biggest question for me was, could he – could I handle, you know, 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 and – which has really been a lot of fun for me, sort of again find that lighter side of Russell and the lighter side of Hank.

David: It was fun. I got to be in the – I – 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.

On how difficult it is to be in the supernatural genre

Russell: It is a challenge, and it’s the biggest challenge for me since, you know, my character doesn’t really deal in the fairy tale world as much – or the elements. I mean, we’re – because of where we’re shooting in Portland the – it’s forestry, it’s green, it’s – you know it’s lush, trees are mossy, and it gets cold and wet and rainy.

And so, the biggest challenge has been trying to – you know to stay warm while looking – trying to do your best to look cool. You know what I mean? You know, a lot of hand warmers and a lot of layers and, you know, (smart wool socks) and whatnot help, but I mean you’re – we’re in the middle of these – or the forest and, you know, we’re trying to walk through as cops looking really cool and dashing and, you know, 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. No, I mean the (coldness) is wild. To say lines when your lips are freezing is very difficult. For me, I often – well, both Russell and I have been in – it’s like every third episode some major physical altercation, and that can really wear too in the beginning. I’m like, “Oh, you know, I can handle it. I’m young and I’m strapping,” and (unintelligible) I was (humbled) immediately.

I mean, stunt men and women are professionals, so let them do their work. So (unintelligible)…

Russell: And you (unintelligible)…

David: …that’s been very difficult.

Russell: Yeah, I’ve had to like sort of – I don’t try to impress (to be) like the old grizzled veteran. He was like cynical like, you know, Krusty the Clown or something, “Hey, kids you need to make – (unintelligible) will do that.” But, you know, there have been a couple times that David’s like, “Hey, no, I got it.” You know what I mean? It didn’t like – you know after the twentieth take his knees, you know, looked like purple Kool-Aid.

David: Twentieth?

Russell: And…

David: No, it was like three takes. No, I’m done. This is ridiculous.

Russell: It’s like, “Hey, kid I told you.” You know, insert, you know, cigar in mouth and anything like that, so – but yeah, it’s still a lot of fun.

On what he thought of the idea when he first heard about the show

Russell: That it would either be very cool or very silly. Yeah, 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, you know the other side – you know other part of you goes, “Wow, how will this work,” you know? And you just hope that you have, you know, 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, you know, we’ve come up with something that’s very cool.

I mean, I thought the concept was fun, just a – definitely a different spin, you know, on the procedural and on the fantasy. And I think their idea of bringing – like setting us – you know enveloping the fairy tales with the real world is really what got – it’s really what inspired me to really want to be a part of the show.

On having Hank/Nick/Monroe all working together on a case

David: Oh, we actually – I – my character, this is David Giuntoli, I don’t want Hank to know about Monroe and my – the Monroe/Nick relationship. I don’t want him to know about that. However, you know 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.
Thanks so much to David & Russell for speaking to the press! Don’t miss the new episode of Grimm tonight on NBC at 9/8c!

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