David Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby took the time to chat about Grimm and their characters, Nick and Hank. I was excited about Grimm when I first heard about it and I have enjoyed every episode, so far. The only complaint I have with the show is that the CGI could be toned down a lot. I love everything else about it and I was lucky enough to meet David at the NBC press party at Comic-Con and he was such a gentleman and the best dressed male of the evening. Everyone at the party was jealous of his eyes because they are absolutely amazing in person. Grimmairs every Friday night on NBC, so don’t miss it.
Conference Call Interview Highlights:
Q: What is the most challenging thing about your character that you have to deal with when you’re performing?
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: And I’d say for me, 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.
Q: Russell, how do you have to approach Hank since he’s not part of the mythology or a fairy tale element of the show?
Russell Hornsby: 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.
Q: In the first two episodes, Nick really hasn’t had any problem hiding his Grimm ability from Hank. How does it play out going forward? Is it going to become an issue for the partnership?
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 Hornsby: 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.
Q: Are there any specific fairy tales that you want to see worked in and do you have any preferences on who would play them?
David Giuntoli: 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 Hornsby: Oh, no, no. 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 – 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 Giuntoli: 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.
Q: Has there been anything that you’ve been surprised to learn about yourselves while developing your characters for the show?
Russell Hornsby: 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.
David Giuntoli: 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.
Q: Can you guys talk a little bit about your relationship on and off screen? You guys have some good chemistry on screen, but can you talk a little bit about your relationship and what you think the other brings to the particular role?
David Giuntoli: 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 Hornsby: 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…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.
Q: David, since Russell’s not on Twitter, how has social media networking sites like Twitter and Facebook been a really great asset for the promotion of the show?
David Giuntoli: I was a reluctant adaptor, but it – well, I’ve learned to really love it. I mean, our promotion of the show was, I don’t know if anybody has done this before, but we leaked – for all the followers of NBC Grimm, we leaked the pilot episode to them maybe a week in advance to get kind of the buzz out there and to get some of the good talk within the – you know the fan base. And people were kind of reticent about that. They didn’t know if that take away from our viewership of the – of our premier, but we premiered some really big numbers. And I think it was so smart, so you know right on the nose, and I don’t know if that would have worked it wasn’t a “genre” piece, I don’t know. But yeah, Twitter really helped launch us and helped us become this hit for NBC.
Q: Russell, you play cops a lot and I was just wondering how this role as Hank is going to differ from the other cops, particularly the role that you played on Haunted, which was another supernatural show.
Russell Hornsby: 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.
Q: Could you tell us a little bit about how you both initially became involved in the project and perhaps about the audition process for your respective roles on the show?
David Giuntoli: 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 Hornsby: 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 Giuntoli: 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.
Q: How do you feel about working in this show as it’s being kind of a quasi genre? Russell, I know you’ve done work because of Haunted, but are you comfortable with doing the genre work and is it a challenge physically as well dealing with the green screen and such?
Russell Hornsby: 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. Yeah, but – 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 Giuntoli: 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 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 Hornsby: 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 Giuntoli: Twentieth? No, it was like three takes. No, I’m done. This is ridiculous.
Russell Hornsby: 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.
Q: When you first heard about Grimm what was your initial reaction? What did you think about it?
Russell Hornsby: 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.
Q: The show is a pretty risky show but it could also easily get the cult following, like Twilight. Have you been preparing for this kind of hysteria?
Russell Hornsby: You know, I don’t think you can prepare. I think that’s something you have to – well, let me speak for myself. I – you know I think that you have to just kind of allow it to happen and continue to be yourself, you know? And I think that’s what – you know I think that’s how you kind of work through it, you know? I mean, you hope that it’s a cult following, you hope that people love (it) and whatnot, and it becomes a very successful show. But, we still have to continue to be – I still have to continue to be Russell the individual, you know, and then – and just continue to be myself.
David Giuntoli: Yeah, I mean…it’s exciting to think about – you know, it’s nice to get recognized and people – it’s nice when people are excited to see you and take a photo with you, and that started happening a little bit for me. And, you know I just – I think it energizes me and I just welcome it. I haven’t prepared for it in any way. I just, you know, if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t, but I’m going to enjoy the ride.
Russell Hornsby: And I also think you have to sort of – you know you can manage expectations as well, you know? When you – there was a famous actor who’s, may he rest in peace, Roscoe Lee Browne, about ten years ago said to me, “Never mistake your presence for the event.” And that’s always stuck with me and I really sort of live by that. And so, you know you never ride too high or too low, you just kind of walk the line and walk right in the middle and that way, you know, you’re always managing expectations and continuing to be yourself.
Q: 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 Giuntoli: Oh, we actually, my character, 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.
David Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby Interview, “Nick” & “Hank”
Grimm Friday Nights at 9 EST on NBC
November 10, 2011