“Grimm” has been the surprise hit of the new season for the network, and despite a somewhat challenging Friday night timeslot, the show has been steadily gaining a loyal following, with signs of achieving cult favorite status. With a lead like David Giuntoli, it’s easy to understand a certain aspect to the fan base — the ladies — but if you ask fans of the show why they love it, you get some variation of the same answer again and again:
“I love Monroe!”
Fans are singing the praises of Giuntoli’s sidekick on the series, played by actor Silas Weir Mitchell. If, for some foolish reason, you haven’t tuned into the show yet, the premise is Giuntoli plays a detective who has just discovered he’s a descendant of the Grimms — the legendary folks who penned all those tales as warnings about the beasts they hunted down and killed. Monroe belongs to one species of those monsters and is a “Blutbad” (German for “blood bath”) — a modern day version of the big bad wolf, or a werewolf, if you will.
But as Monroe himself would point out, a very modern and reformed Blutbad, who has gone “vegetarian” with a “strict regimen of diet, drugs and Pilates.” He and Giuntoli’s character, Nick, have paired up to solve some crimes, with Monroe also giving the detective a crash course in this whole new world of Grimms vs. Wesen (monsters.)
To say Monroe is a quirky character is putting it mildly, and if anyone has followed Mitchell’s other characters on shows such as “Prison Break” or “My Name is Earl,” it comes as no surprise if you look him up on Wikipedia that the words “unstable” and “disturbed” come up.
But just in regards to the characters he plays … really. And Mitchell is quick to point out he had nothing to do with the construction of that page, for the record. But there’s no denying he has developed a niche for the, shall we say, outsider archetype.
It seems like you’ve been kind of typecast as the guy that plays the weird characters. Is that something that just kind of came about naturally or do you like being put in those roles?
Mitchell: Well, it came about because when you start out, you try to get work that you can get and that’s just the work that came to me because of, you know, the combination of physiognomy, timing, and sense of humor, I guess. It’s just the nature of it, you know.
But on the other hand, not to say that it was completely out of my hands, because I am interested in that frame of mind. The frame of mind that is not ordinary, like what’s going on in that guy’s head? That guy on the corner who’s talking to himself, what’s he talking about?
Do you think you like playing those parts because you feel like it’s similar to you or do you feel it’s something completely opposite from your real personality?
Mitchell: I feel like it has nothing to do with me, per se. It has more to do with what I find interesting in the human psyche. So it’s not about whether it’s like me or not like me. It’s more of something that I am objectively interested in, as the person who is interested in what makes people tick and when you find people, when you can’t quite figure out what makes them tick, I think that’s interesting.
Are there any different kinds of roles you would like to play besides the crazy guy or the eccentric?
Mitchell: Of course. I mean that’s what’s great about Monroe, you know. Like Monroe is an oddball, but he’s not malicious and insane. I get to explore and live in a completely different realm of the human soul or spirit or high humanity. It’s like, it’s a very different place I get to live in with Monroe because for all Monroe’s otherness, there’s still a very, very deep streak of humanity and compassion and, you know, there’s a real effort being made on the part of Monroe to live a decent life, despite, my ancestry and my own tendencies. That’s really fun.
Well, you know when I was telling people that I was going to be talking to you, everyone said that you’re their favorite on the show. They just love what you do with the character. Are there any parts of Monroe that you do feel kind of similar to you or is there any special preparation you do for the quirkiness?
Mitchell: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s an affinity there. One of the things I was talking to David and Jim about — David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, the creator and head writers — I was talking about the similar way Monroe’s mind works. It kind of bounces around a little bit, you know, and then once it latches on to something, it will bore all the way into it, like the clock making or the Pilates or the vegan thing or, you know, but when it’s not anchored, it kind of skitters around. My mind is like that. If I don’t have something to really focus on, I can kind of, think about five things to do at once. You know what I mean?
I definitely make an effort in my personal life. Sometimes I just do one thing at a time, you know. Fill the dishwasher then, you know, fix the couch then make the bed instead of, sort of, making a third of the bed and then running to the dishwasher, putting a few more things in there and then, you know, running into the other — you know what I mean? Like I’ve tried to do one thing at a time.
Sadly, I know exactly what you mean. I think you just gave me some insight to why I love the character so much, which scares me a little bit. Now, you’ve been working a lot with David Giuntoli and there’s a lot of dry humor in your scenes. Like, in particular, the bit where you’re translating about the Wesen species Nick’s aunt was involved with, and make the comment that “They have very large sausages — I can’t be translating that right.” I mean, are you guys having a hard time keeping a straight face through some of that?
Mitchell: There are moments of straight faces being hard to come by, yes. I love that and you know, the convivial and collegial working relationship. So it’s quite nice.
Mitchell: Yeah … I mean there’s definitely room for that. It’s not improv. It’s more like, “This line would be better if we just moved this around this way.” You know, there are definitely elements of that. I always call the writers and I badger them about things to a point where I sometimes feel like, “Hi, I’m sorry. It’s me again. What about this line?” But there’s a lot of that. They’re very, very open to that because, you know, yeah, like you said, once you’re on episode 20, you’re starting to really sink in to the world.
Now you guys just got picked up for a second season and I just watched a bit of an interview where you said that you told somebody that you didn’t think it’d go past the first season. So obviously, it sounds like you’re a little surprised, but happily so.
Mitchell: Well, I wouldn’t say I didn’t think it was going to go past the first season. What I was saying was I’m surprised that it’s the first thing that NBC renewed. I mean, I was saying, who would’ve thought back in October of last year, you know, cut to spring of this year and what new NBC show that’s not a mid-season replacement would still be standing.
Like, I don’t want to forget a show that’s still there but I’m just saying I don’t think many people would’ve said back in October, “Grimm” is going to be the show that NBC gives the first re-order to of their new hour-longs. I just don’t think that people would’ve thought that and I certainly was more than pleasantly surprised when that happened.
Well, yeah. You guys have that Friday night timeslot which is really tough.
Mitchell: I guess it’s tough in a way but it’s also, apparently, one of the good things about Friday is you don’t need to pull huge numbers to justify sticking around. You don’t need to get Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday numbers.
We were really, really worried when the pilot was in the air because I don’t know if you remember this but we were up against the World Series and the World Series was supposed to be finished. Without doubt, there was no way that the World Series was going to last longer than Thursday before we opened the next day on Friday, even if it went seven games before we premiered. And then they had a rainout.
So not only was there a rainout, there was an opportunity for one team, the Rangers, to close it out, win the series, and be done with it on Thursday night and they were up two runs and then they got tied and then they were up two runs again and then they got tied and then they were up again and the other team won it in the bottom of the ninth or something to force Game 7. So we were up against Game 7 in a way that should never have happened because there was the rainout and there was this incredible comeback victory. We were all looking at our cell phones manically watching the score of the game.
So, I feel like we were up against some pretty serious odds and we hit something and it’s very, very exciting.
Well, you know, DVR has been a blessing to you guys. You’ve done really well with DVR ratings added in. Even people that don’t catch it when it’s running live, that’s been a big factor in your ratings as well.
Mitchell: I believe that you are correct in that and I think it speaks to, I mean, it speaks to the age we live in when, you know, there’s a metric for people who watch something on the DVR but there has to be. So many people do it that you have to start measuring it and if you add those in for the numbers, you’re right. We get a lot more viewers than just those who watch it live and I’m glad that they’re aware of that because I’m sure that contributed to their decision to renew us.
Well, and it seems like it’s picking up almost a cult-like status. People are really catching on. I mean, do you see that happening? Would you be excited if it became, you know, like a Star Trek-type cult thing and you’re doing conventions playing Monroe 20 years from now?
Mitchell: Oh, man. Now you’re really scaring me. Twenty years from now?
Well, look at Mr. Spock.
Mitchell: I don’t know what I’m going to have for lunch. I’m not thinking about 20 years from now.
Okay, fair enough. Well, do you know anything about what’s coming up for season two or any spoilers that you can give us? Of course, obviously most of it has to be under wraps but anything that we can be looking forward to for season two or even the rest of season one? You said you’ve got a big part in the episode you’re working on now.
Mitchell: Yeah, I can say I honestly — I’m not trying to be coy — I don’t know anything about season two, not literally one tip. But what I can say from what I know is that I think fans, especially the fans that you were just referring to, “cult-like fans” or the, you know, the people who know David Greenwalt’s work from “Buffy (the Vampire Slayer”) and people who are interested in the “genre shows.” I don’t know what that word means, except it’s the most vague term. It’s like a genre show — that’s like saying, you know, a round cookie. Every show is some genre. Anyway …
I think they mean horror and sci-fi geeks.
Mitchell: I know they do. That’s what genre means but I feel like it’s the strangest term because it’s like a generic term for, you know, a type. It’s like saying, “You’re on a type of show”. Well, yes, I am on a type of show. Anyway, that’s a semantic point. What I’m getting at is I can tell you that the fans of this genre will be very excited, I think, by what happens towards the end of season one because the mythology of the whole set-up, the underpinnings of Nick’s situation, his relationship to various people in the world, the tip of the iceberg starts to, you know, broaden and we start to feel a little bit more about what’s really going on and I think that’s going to be really fun for people. There’s the procedural element.
The procedural element sort of gets woven into the fabric of Nick’s particular journey, i.e. what am I doing here, who are these people, what are their motives. You know, it’s not just crime of the week. It’s crime of the week that has to do with the “Grimm” mythology. So, the writers have done a really cool job, sort of, dove-tailing those two things and I think that’s going to be fun for people. You have to forgive me because I’m just completely rambling, you know. Sorry.
No, that’s okay. But I was going to say that your writers are really great, I especially really love how they wove in real history with their mythology in the “Three Coins for a Fuchsbau” episode.
Mitchell: Yeah, in fact the “Three Coins” episode which was the, sort of mid-season, I don’t know what you call it — it was episode 13 so it was, kind of like, the midseason, not cliff-hanger, but kind of climax in a way. I think that type of writing and that type of narrative where the crime of the week, which was the coin, has to do with the deeper mythology of the Grimm story, which was exactly what I was just saying. I feel like that is going to start happening more, which is really — its fun. It just gets darker and richer and like, brings in real history and I think it’s fantastic. It gives it a kind of gravitas, you know.
Yeah, what you were saying made me think of “Three Coins” because I really, really loved that one. That was the “please-don’t-cancel-us” episode.
Mitchell: Yeah, I guess it kind of was. “You want some action, here it is.” Although by the time that aired, by the time they were writing that, I think we knew that we weren’t going to get bounced.
Where are you right now in your filming schedule?
Mitchell: We are filming the next to last episode right now and we start shooting the last episode after Easter.
Okay and then do you guys know yet when the second season comes back, probably next fall?
Mitchell: I think next late summer is my guess. I think, from what I heard, you know, this is all rumor. I don’t really know. I just keep my head down and just say words. You know what I mean?
Oh, yeah. Hey, you’re still trying to figure out what you’re going to have for lunch. Alright, take care and hopefully, maybe next season we’ll sit down and chat again.
Mitchell: I’d love that.
“Grimm” airs Friday nights on NBC at 9 p.m. ET.