David Giuntoli GRIMM Interview

     November 8, 2011

For the Grimm set visit, I got a chance to sit with the show’s star David Giuntoli, and talk about being given the opportunity to be the lead on a network television show. Giuntoli – like much of the cast – has been working in television for years, but mostly in one-off appearances, and has gone through a number of failed pilots. This time they’re on the air, and they’re off and running.

At the time of our talk at the Bridgeport Brewery, the pilot hadn’t aired on TV yet, and neither of us knew the show would be doing as well as it has. But as his last interview of the day, we were both relaxed, and he was unflinchingly honest about his expectations for the show, and what he thinks the show’s fate will be. Check out our conversation after the jump.

david-giuntoli-grimm-imageWe started by joking about how most interviews are like speed dating, and so David joked about making a connection. Here are some of the highlights of our talk:

  • David is thrilled and scared about being the lead, but mostly it means he’s constantly working.
  • He’s gone through many pilot seasons, this was a first as a drama.
  • The X-Files wasn’t a reference for the show.
  • As he’s the show’s leads, he’s not drinking much these days.
  • He’s very aware of their position as a Friday night show, and feels that they should be able to meet the low expectations that come with that.

Collider: Is this your first time headlining a show?

David Giuntoli: Yes it is.

How is that?

Giuntoli: Frightening. But also very thrilling personally, and an incredibly rare opportunity for growth on many levels in terms of workload and just pure skill. It’s been fantastic.

Do you feel like the anchor?

Giuntoli: I wouldn’t say I’m the anchor, I’m the one person who sees everyone at work – I don’t get to see a lot of people outside of work too much because I’m there all the time. Everyone asks me “how you doing, have you slept?” so I know I’m working long hours.

You’re almost in every scene of the pilot. Is that the workload?

Giuntoli: Some episodes I’ve had a bit more of a break, and I think what’s happening is other characters storylines are growing. It’s a natural process in every show.

grimm-imageDo you feel like the group’s jelled?

Giuntoli: Socially, absolutely. As actors, it’s great. From my point of view, there’s such different things. With Bitsie’s character I get to flirt…

(At this moment his co-star Bitsie Tulloch overhears this and adds)

Bitsie Tulloch: Every time I see him on set, it feels like there’s a huge load off his shoulders, because when it’s me, it’s real and it’s flirtatious and it seems like it’s way more fun. Instead of him imagine a swarm of bees.

Giuntoli: Yes.

And not dying.

Giuntoli: Indeed. The cast has been gelling since day one, and we’re all finding our groove.

How do you feel the show has evolved now that you’re on episode nine?

Grimm-imageGiuntoli: I think the show became a little more procedural following the pilot, and I didn’t know that would happen. Recently more of the mythology has crept in, and the characters are starting to bloom.

It seems like the metaphor of the character is rich in that you’re keeping a secret that you can’t share – that has to be fun to play.

Giuntoli: It’s fun when the worlds come really close together, my character hates it but I enjoy it.

And you get to be Clark Kent and Superman?

Giuntoli: I suppose so – it’s the cleft chin, isn’t it? (laughs)

How’s shooting in Portland been?

Giuntoli: I live here now. It’s beautiful from day one. The Food and the beer, and no sales tax. Get your iPad while you’re here.

So you shot the pilot in March and the show got picked up in May?

Grimm-imageGiuntoli: Yeah, as shows started getting picked up I was getting a little more nervous, and the first day NBC started picking up TV shows I immediately went for a run and then called Silas. I was like “Where are you?” He said “I’m at a bar.” And so I went and we started drinking and the next day we got it.

As a working actor, that’s got to be a huge relief.

Giuntoli: It is, but then there’s this moment where you worry about being recast. “Are they going to recast everybody?” And then they didn’t. Luckily.

Have you been recast?

Giuntoli: One of my first gigs was as a guest star, and I was supposed to be a big imposing character, and I wasn’t so I got (makes clicking sound). But they paid me still, you never know, nothing’s guaranteed.

Have you been a part of shows that haven’t gone?

Giuntoli: Yes, for the last number of pilot seasons I have. Are you privy to all the old pilots? I was part of Quintuplets, I played a cat – this is my first drama.

You used to do just comedies?

Giuntoli: Comedies and light dramatic things.

Grimm-imageYou play brooding on this.

Giuntoli: I was trying to play as real possible with this – I wanted everything to be real, and in the pilot I’m playing it perpetually stunned in a way, and it lightens up over the series.

Were you widening your net by going for a drama?

Giuntoli: The director of the pilot called me in. I had worked on a pilot called Love Bites with him, and the producers I worked on with on Hot In Cleveland, so they knew me from comedic worlds, and they wanted someone who could be light too. Because it is pretty heavy.

Do you find yourself having to reign in those instincts?

Giuntoli: Yes, I have to reign in my personality a little bit. Sometimes you want to go more colorful, but that’s not my job on the show. My job is to be the center of the show, and the further you move out the more it can get wild.

Did you have a reference point when creating your character? Off the cuff, the show this most resembles in X-Files, but you’re not doing a Mulder.

Giuntoli: No, I’m not doing a Mulder, there was no character reference-point. I think Mark Buchman shot it very David Fincher, but we did not know what the show was going to be. The hardest thing about doing a series and having it stick is that you’ve never performed with each other, and the pilot is kind of a dress rehearsal, and you don’t know the tone until two or three episodes in.

Grimm-imageAs I said to Reggie Lee and Sahsa Roiz, any show where the pilot is a show’s best episode is generally a terrible show. I think it’s about watching people congeal.

Giuntoli: Absolutely, that’s the fun of the thing. Watching the cast grow and relationships become defined. The workload is so heavy you forget about thinking, it just kind of happens.

You’ve mostly been shooting here in the Northwest?

Giuntoli: We’ve been everywhere around. I was biking until the clouds came. We’ll go in the woods, we’ll go up and down the river. I love the woods in Sandy, but it’s an hour away, so I don’t love that.

Has there been people watching? I tend to find being on set if you have nothing to do is often boring.

Giuntoli: If we’re on the street, yeah, but also we’ve got cop cars, I’m carrying a gun, and there’s usually a corpse, so I think that may have something to do with it.

You’ve got a lot of beers in front of you.

Giuntoli: I don’t drink now, I’m too busy. It sucks.

Grimm-imageAre you doing 13 for now?

Giuntoli: That’s out of our power for now, but yes 13 and then hopefully back nine.

So you’re hoping for 22?

Giuntoli: I’m assuming 22, but I’m not spending the money yet. But I think we’ll get to 22. I think that we’re on Friday nights and we have a lovely spot in that – not that we don’t have a lovely show – there aren’t those high expectations for a Friday night genre show.

Slightly less pressure than The Playboy Club.

Giuntoli: A hell of a lot less pressure than The Playboy Club, and we’re late in the season and other shows have come and gone, and those jitters have come and gone. It’s a pleasant place to be.

Is that something you have to think about?

Giuntoli: Listen, if I was smarter or more disciplined guy I wouldn’t pay attention or look it up at all. But you want to know what’s going to happen next. And it’s also they pay us (laughs). And you want the show to be a success.

Grimm is on Friday nights at 9PM on NBC.