Interviews TV

GRIMM David Giuntoli & Sasha Roiz Interview

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I spoke with the talented and handsome stars of Grimm, David Giuntoli and Sasha Roiz. Grimm is a show that I’ve been addicted to since the pilot. It’s the perfect way to begin every weekend. If you have not gotten a chance to check it out then let me tell you what you are missing, fairytales, beautiful filming, incredible acting, intense and creepy stories, David Giuntoli’s eyes (seriously, he has the most amazing eyes that I am so jealous of and hoping that they put out a line of Grimm contacts that feature those blue/grey beauties), amazing guest stars (Titus Welliver, Nicholas Gonzalez, etc.), and so much more.  I also have to note that David’s character, Nick, is so awesome that he doesn’t even wear a hospital gown in the hospital.  Yeah, you know the writers through that one in for the ladies and gentlemen.  Who isn’t required to wear a hospital gown in the hospital? Your answer is: Nick Burkhardt. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with both of them and get some character and show insight directly from the source.  Don’t miss Grimm, Friday nights on NBC.

Lena Lamoray:  Hi David and Sasha. I love the show.

Sasha Roiz:  Hi.

David Giuntoli:  Thank you.

Sasha Roiz:  Thank you.

Lena Lamoray:  You’re welcome. Now this week’s episode looks like a really strong one for both of your characters. So what can you tell us about it and your experience working with Titus (Welliver)?

David Giuntoli: First of all Titus is a brilliant actor. And it was wonderful having him with us. And his character brings Nick some news about his family and his past. I don’t want to get too far into it. I don’t know how deep into it I can go. But suffice it to say I learned some big chunky pieces of info from Titus.  And Sasha’s role, Captain Renard, goes through some pretty wild times. Do you want to talk about that?

Sasha Roiz:  They are wild times indeed David.

David Giuntoli:  Thank you Sash.

Sasha Roiz: Titus was great to work with. He’s a great actor and it’s really fun to have him on set. And the episode is a really strong one. You’re going to see that we really sort of found our stride.  A lot of the episodes now are starting to kind of be self-contained in a sense that a lot of the crimes or a lot of the sort of action and motivations keep feeding on mythology in our storylines. And they just kind of strengthen that whole side of our show, which is really exciting and with every show there’s more and more details unfolding. So this is a really good example of the direction we’re heading in.

Lena Lamoray:  David, the relationship between Nick and Monroe is an interesting one. In this last episode Nick really put himself in danger to save him. So can you talk about stepping in the ring with Monroe and filming that fight scene?

David Giuntoli:  Oh my goodness. That was one of the coldest nights we’ve had and we were up in the hills somewhere outside of Portland. And those are kind of – those are the scenes that kind of do themselves because we had these wonderful actors who are really into the show and I think excited to be there and it’s kind of screaming and almost like frothy at the mouth. It was insane.  Generally when you put me into a octagon shaped cage, I’m going to perform well. I would say…

Sasha Roiz:  I always say you do your best work in an octagon. You do some of your finest work…

David Giuntoli:  And I always – and I immediately agree. I immediately agree with you every time you say that.

Sasha Roiz:  Yes.

David Giuntoli:  It was really fun to do that. Monroe was – is a guy who, you know, Nick needed first for utility and just to learn the ropes of the kind of the new world that Nick entered into. But obviously we’ve developed a relationship and a friendship and a bond. And I think that he used to kind of save my ass all of the time. And I dragged him into this kind of world a bit. And yes, I would put my life on the line for him at this point.

More Press Conference Call Highlights:

Q:  Sasha, given where Captain Renard started as a character in the pilot, how have you been able to adapt and identify with him?

Sasha Roiz:  Well we’ve developed quite a – the character’s been developed quite a bit since the beginning. We’ve had a lot more freedom now that I think we’ve established the story of Grimm and the characters of Grimm and the world that we’re living in.  And so now there’s a little bit more freedom to get a little deeper. And so as you saw last week and especially in this week’s episode, you’ll get a real sense of who the character is and sort of the direction in which he’s going. And it’s been a lot of fun to, you know, from script to script and just get a little bit more insight into the pathology of Grimm. So it’s definitely start to pick up the pace at this point.

Q:  David, given where Nick is at this point in the season, have you gained a better understanding of who he is as a Grimm through his own journey?

David Giuntoli:  This coming episode I’m going to be learning a lot about my past or Nick’s going to be learning a lot about his past. And it helps I think put some things to bed for him, some worries he’s always had, some things he’s always wanted to know.  But yes, he understands his role a little bit more now. He’s not as terrified by his new identity and he’s kind of using it as a tool, his Grimmstinks as I like to call them and his powers, (my gosh). And yes, he’s using them as a tool now and trying to make his role and use it.

Sasha Roiz:  Grimmstinks. I like that.

David Giuntoli:  Yes. There you go.

Sasha Roiz:  I’m going to – I’m going to dub mine Renardism.

Q:  What do we have to look forward to in these episodes coming up and the second half of the season?

Sasha Roiz:  What’s in the second half of the season. Like I mentioned earlier, you know, we’ve been given a lot of freedom to explore the mythology and explore the back stories of the characters and really – as well as the interpersonal relationships. So it’s been tremendous fun for us as we get to know our characters a little bit better and as we get to know each other and each other’s characters a little better.  So we’re not quite as burdened by certain strictly procedural storylines. We get the chance to play a little bit of the Grimm map so to speak.

David Giuntoli:  Oh you’re – and Sasha’s completely right. The – we’re more comfortable in our roles now. We’ve laid down the foundation for kind of defining what this Grimm world is. So now we kind of get to play within that.  There’s going to be some upcoming episodes, especially this – particularly this Three Coins in a Fuchsbau, which is coming up on Friday that really drives the overarching storyline forward and answer some questions for my character and for the viewers. And we’re going to get a lot more of that as the season goes on.

Q:  What was it like the first time that you read for your respective roles? What were your first impressions of your characters during that first read through?

David Giuntoli:  The first time I read for it I had known – I had met and worked with the director before and also I had met two of the producers, Sean Hayes and Todd Millner before. I worked with them all that year. And Mark Buckland directed the pilot.  So, you know, as opposed to a lot of kind of cold auditions, I kind of already felt some – they were rooting for me. And, you know, they were looking for – I don’t know what exactly they were looking for but they were very helpful and kind of coaching me through the audition a bit and told me exactly what they want and spent time with me.  But my first take on Nick was that he always thought he was – (unintelligible) wanted to go home and instead of go like drinking with the guys. I wanted to watch, you know, like two movies with Juliette and was very happy settling down into a (nice) little life with some rose and, you know.  And, you know, which makes what happened to him in the pilot episode all the more, you know, horrifying and terrible. You know, on the fact that he’s seeing monsters his whole life – what he thought he had is gone. And, you know, he clings to that. He wants it to remain and, you know, it’s very difficult to maintain this little domestic life while, you know, ogres and bad guys are chasing him.

Sasha Roiz:  What was the question? I’m sorry. Was it what I felt of the character when I first read for it?

Sasha Roiz:  I just – once you mentioned rose Dave, I just lost all my train of thought.

David Giuntoli:  Well you immediately want your bottle of rose and there…

Sasha Roiz:  Exactly. I just decanted a little bottle of rose.  Initially I read for the Blutbad way back when. And then they called me back weeks later for Renard and it wasn’t very much on the page. And so I really wasn’t sure what they were calling me for. And then, you know, after they picked me for the role, then they explained to me that it was, you know, where they were planning on going with it and then became a lot more interesting than what I saw in the script initially.  But I think they were going in a very different direction originally with the role. They were going a lot older and a lot more African American than myself. So and they just kind of like, you know, changed their casting decision I think and kind of went in a different direction with the character all together.  Because I just remember when I was sitting waiting to audition I was like, I think I seem to be in the wrong room because this is not generally the demographic I audition with. But, you know, I’m glad that they did and I’m glad they chose me and it’s been a lot of fun. And they really held true to their promise. They developed this role into something quite interesting.

David Giuntoli:  Weren’t they also looking in another demographic as well?

Sasha Roiz:  Yes. Women – specifically Asian women like something like…

David Giuntoli:  (I didn’t realize).

Sasha Roiz:  …Asian for the…

David Giuntoli:  Yes.

Sasha Roiz:  It was a very – it was a very strange casting day that day for me. But I’m very glad I attended….really heading in a different – they’re really heading in a different direction.

Q:  Did the creators have an actual hierarchy planted out?

Sasha Roiz:  Well I think there was mention last week of your highness and, you know, as sort of sarcastic as the character Leo is being, you know, there’s truth to that. So I mean that’s the direction we’re headed in. I mean it’s a – he’s descendant of a royal line and he’s set, you know, he’s set his sights on reestablishing that royal order in Portland at least for himself.

Q:  David, could talk a little bit about Nick’s relationship with Juliette, how that sort of developed and just in your eyes where the writers are sort of taking that relationship as well.

David Giuntoli:  Well, I don’t know exactly where the writers are taking the relationship. My impulse and, you know, I believe this to be true is that, you know, they’re taking it down the road that I, you know, I want her to marry me. I want to be in the dark. I want her to be safe. I want to do – I want everything at once. I don’t want her to know about my, you know, current situation.  Honey, I – real quick. No. But, you know, I want to keep her. And my (ads) predicated this whole thing by saying I had to leave her and she is in harm’s way. So I’m kind of always dancing that fine line of telling her or not.  I think that they want me to ask her to marry her and I think, you know, Nick wants to end up with her. And I don’t know what’s going to happen with us as this series goes on.  But something’s got to happen soon, you know, something’s got to happen as far as I have to let her in or she has to leave me or she has to something or else I’m just, you know, she’s going to – I’m going to kill her or something if it’s terrible. I need to let her in somehow. I’m not going to kill her. But she’ll end up dying because I’m not going to kill her.

Sasha Roiz:  That’s the only thing you’re going to read from this point on. Giuntoli…

David Giuntoli:  I know.

Sasha Roiz:  …I’m going to have to kill her.

David Giuntoli:  I’m going to have to kill Juliette.

Sasha Roiz:  Headline. The only thing that’s going to be quoted from this conversation.

Q:  Sasha, what were some perhaps initial acting challenges you found stepping into this role? What have you enjoyed most about sort of playing both sides of the fences with the role?

Sasha Roiz:  The hardest thing and which continues to be a bit of a, you know, it’s not a – it’s not a burden. It’s just the difficult thing when you’re playing the sort of mysterious character is that a lot of the mystery isn’t completely hatched. And so you’re kind of waiting around sometimes to, you know, be informed of what it – what your machinations are and what you’re actually motivated to be doing.  So you don’t always know the grand picture until the writers provide you with it. So that’s sometimes a little difficult because you’re kind of sort of overreaching or trying to at least, you know, trying to determine for yourself what the best sort of path is as your character proceeds.  But playing both sides of the fence it’s great. It’s great. I – you know, I don’t see Renard as somebody who’s duplicitous. I don’t. Maybe some other people do. But, you know, I see him very much as a character who believes in a certain order and believes in a very strict order with him at the top of that and really cares about the population of his canton or kingdom or whatever we’re defining it as. And he wants peace and he wants civil obedience within it.  And he’ll stop at nothing to achieve that. And, you know what, that’s not really uncharacteristic of a lot of nations or regimes or what have you. So I just think he’s just set out to accomplish that and that’s really – it really is only with the one focus with him.

Q: Where would you like to see, if you were the writer and you had an option, where you’d like to see your character go for the rest of the season and through the end of next season?  What are the key things that you look at and go God, this is the thing I’d like to spend a little more focus on?

David Giuntoli:  For my character, you know, I think I would like to see my character – you know, I think this has been actually happening especially in this later part of the season – the second half of the season. Nick kind of goes from perpetually stunned to observer to kind of passive observer and someone who’s in denial of his new role and slowly starts to really use these tools to his advantage.  And I want – I would love to see my character — and again, I think it is going this way — turn into kind of an active hunter or profiler who doesn’t just read the books but adds to them who, you know, I think makes a good guy. I don’t think – I think one of the great things about him is he’s not like other Grimms who would just slay anything that morphed in front of their eyes.  And I don’t think he’s going to be that but I think he is going to develop his powers, become a real force and a, you know, more of a hunter.  Moving from passive to active ultimately is the arc that has been taking place and it’s exciting to do that.

Sasha Roiz:  Less rose, more action is what you’re saying.

David Giuntoli:  I want to keep the rose.

Q:  You’re still on the rose thing?

David Giuntoli:  You should see – you should see us on set. It’s terrible.

Sasha Roiz:  We don’t let anything go. Yes. Are you done my friend?

David Giuntoli:  Yes. I’m all done.

Sasha Roiz:  I would like to get into the back story, you know, specifically the past what sort of formed this man. I think there’s a really interesting story brewing about where he comes from and the obstacles that he’s had to face. You know, I think there’s a reason he’s as stern and as unyielding as he is. And I’d like to explore that.  I think there’s probably some interesting – very interesting loss and pain and all sorts of stuff like that that sort of propelled him to where he is. So be fun. Be fun to investigate it.

Q:  Is some of that possibly in the works?

Sasha Roiz:  I think so, yes, because we’ve already touched upon some things in future episodes where there’s a certain family element. And there’s definitely a sense of other royals and competition and a certain pressure to get things accomplished because there’s definitely a time factor because they’re all sort of vying for positions of power.

Q:  Which Grimm creature has been your favorite on the show so far?

Sasha Roiz:  Oh boy. Yes I mean, you know, the Blutbad.

David Giuntoli:  Monroe. You know, we mentioned…He’s fantastic. You know, but as far as guest stars or kind of episodic, I got to tell you, I loved – and I – back in Three Bad Wolves, I really like the character of Hap who was Monroe’s old love interest’s brother. He was created by – I can’t remember – (Brad Hinkey). Was that his name?  He was probably – yes, anybody who can bring some kind of levity to a otherwise fairly serious show I think are kind of my favorites.

Sasha Roiz:  Listen, as a character who will rarely if ever crack a joke, I appreciate anyone who brings a little humor and levity to our show. So definitely when we have some fun, you know, characters and actors who could provide that, we’re thrilled.  And, you know, luckily we’ve got like the (stylists) and Reggie providing a lot of comedy for us. And yes and, you know, they never cease to amaze me though. They’re like always end up bringing in some great lines and some great characters every time.  But I also – I enjoy some of the dark mythological elements. Like I’m really – I enjoy the reapers and that whole storyline. And guys who wield scythes. I mean that’s pretty crazy.  And we got a really interesting one in this episode, which I don’t want to give away but, you know, it’s sort of like a hunter kind of character that comes to collect (unintelligible). Anyway it’s just very interesting like the mythology is developing and some very intriguing characters are coming to the surface.

Q:  Why do you guys think that the show has taken off in the way that it has?
David Giuntoli:  Well I think, you know, I think in, you know, network after network have a lot of great TV shows. There are a lot of cop shows. There are a lot of great – there’s a lot of great stuff on TV. But I think we have and had this, you know, this year is a very unique identity.  And when you hear the concept of the show you’re like oh, that’s kind of weird and silly. And it sticks with you right away. And so I think initially that was very good for us because it wasn’t like anything else. Even now there was Once Upon a Time, clearly a very different show. This has a very different tone.  And, you know, after that initial kind of hook, I think the writers have done a superb job to kind of slowly develop these characters, bring in some really gruesome storylines while keeping some comedy in there and keeping people interested.  You know, it’s great Friday night television and I think it’s a great escapism show. And what, you know, I think it’s great for families too and that’s whose been watching it largely.

Sasha Roiz:  Yes. I think I – this is Sasha. I think we’ve been, you know, brilliantly surprised – so happily surprised that the demographic was so much wider than we even anticipated. Like David mentioned, there’s families watching, which, you know, sometimes surprises me considering how gruesome…I mean it’s sort of really, you know, horrifying episodes and I’m amazed at how many parents watch it with their kids. And hey, you know, like I think it’s great. I love the fact that we entertain families as well as individuals and I think it’s a fantastic Friday night, you know, end of the week sort of show that just sort of take off your shoes and relax and just kind of turn off and, you know, escape with us.  And it’s worked out beautifully. And I’m really grateful that there’s other shows like Once Upon A Time. When we were first coming out everyone kept pitting us against one another. I think what they failed to understand is we actually support one another. I think we add to the whole spectrum of (unintelligible) television and in doing so we just kind of add a lot of momentum to one another.  And I’m glad more shows like that. I’m happy we’re able to do that for one another.

David Giuntoli:  I agree with that. And it was always a great – it was – just the fact that both of us came on the air at the same time, it was a story for people to write about. And the more, you know, visibility the better.

Q:  How have both of you grown as actors over the course of this show?

David Giuntoli:  Well this is David. I went from green to veteran. I’m just logging so many hours every day. I, you know, this is the first time for me that I had to sustain an arc, you know, through a series. And there’s a lot to learn in that. You don’t have to play the series every episode. You just kind of play each scene as it happens. And also…I think I just settled down a little bit. You know, whenever you embark on a new giant gob you kind of start – you may be a little nervy and, you know, I was chomping at the bit and had a lot of energy and I think I’ve just kind of settled down a bit as an actor.

Sasha Roiz:  Yes. I just want to – and, you know, honestly I just want to praise David. I think he’s doing a great job and we’re, you know, we can’t ask for a better more charming lead than David.  And, you know, it’s – for me, I don’t know, it’s just been – it’s been a lot of fun to work within the ensemble environment to participate in everybody else’s storyline just to help support everybody else’s characters. I think sometimes the challenges, you know, when you work in ensembles there’s a lot of days off. And you don’t really feel as engaged.  And so the challenge may be perhaps in the beginning was certainly to feel locked into your character and your storyline and connected to the rest of the cast. And fortunately being sort of removed and placed in Portland has helped towards that because we’ve got to know one another and so we’ve bonded very quickly. And that’s really, really helped our work a lot. We’re genuine friends (here) and we enjoy each other’s company totally. And so it’s been a pleasure. Hopefully it comes out in the work.

Q:  Is there anything that you’ve been surprised to learn about your characters and yourselves as we delve deeper into the world of Grimm?

Sasha Roiz:  Anything I’m surprised about as we delve deeper. You know, I’m always surprised because honestly sometimes with every episode there’s a new development in my storyline, my mythology that I often don’t see coming. And on one hand, you know, it’s very concerting because as an actor you just want to get it all right and you just want to get it all as (unintelligible) and honest performance and you want to be able to sort of plan ahead.  But, you know, it’s sort of the nature of episodic television. You don’t know sometimes what’s coming. And it’s been challenging and a lot of fun to just sort of, you know, being thrown off a little bit by the developments.  And so there’s some very interesting stuff coming down and as I hear the rumblings from the writer’s room like all these, you know, ideas of where they want to take things, it never fails to amaze me and surprise me. So hopefully it will translate as well in the performances and the scripts.

David Giuntoli:  Yes. I mean I second what Sasha was saying there. You know, in episodic TV you have to keep things, you know, keep the viewer in suspense. So the actors – we as actors are often in suspense as well. We don’t necessarily know what is going on. You know, we have often some back story.  I had a lot easier time with my back story than Sasha because his character’s so mysterious, you know. And you probably learn a lot more about your character episode than I learn about mine.  But I, you know, this coming episode on Friday “Three Coins in a Fuchsbau” – Fuchsbau is (at the) fox by the way.

Sasha Roiz:  Foxhole.

David Giuntoli:  I mean I – when I first read the script, I was very surprised that – because my character Nick gets some major chunks of information kind of thrown at him and that he’s been seeking for a very, very long time about his family. So yes, you know, you never know when this is going to come up and it happened to come up in this Episode 13. So it was very exciting to read that on the page and to get to perform it.

Sasha Roiz:  I think you’re going to get a sense. I think you’re going to get a – this episode really sort of brings – I think really brings it all together, doesn’t it, in a way. Like this is a very exciting episode and I think everything we’ve been sort of building on this season really starts to gel and – or even congeal rather in this episode. Like things are really – you get a sense of our show I think as clearly as has ever been presented.

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