Grimm and Bear It: Q & A with Grimm's David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf

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Grimm's Detectives Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) and Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) check out another mysterious death.

As a police homicide detective working in Portland, Oregon, Grimm’s Nick Burkhardt is used to seeing some unsettling things. That, however, takes on an entirely new meaning when his aunt suddenly comes to town. Nick learns that he is, in fact, descended from a group of hunters called “Grimms,” who throughout the centuries have risked their lives to protect innocent people from supernatural creatures roaming the earth and living amongst humankind.

When his aunt is killed at the hands of one of these creatures, Nick (David Giuntoli) is unexpectedly thrust into his role as a Grimm. As he tries to adjust to his newfound destiny, Nick struggles to keep his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), and his girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) in the dark about the new dangers he now faces. Much to his surprise, Nick finds a confidant in Monroe (Silas Wier Mitchell), a clockmaker who also happens to be Blutbad (wolf) and a member of the Wesen, or creature community.

Grimm has proven to be a hit with viewers and it was recently picked up for an additional nine episodes, making for a 22-episode first season. Last week, series co-creators/executive producers David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf took a break from their workday to speak with me and other journalists about what is to come on Grimm. The following is an edited version of that Q & A. Enjoy!

In the last episode that aired, we were introduced to a group of creatures who do not approve of Monroe helping Nick. Are we going to be hearing more about them?

David Greenwalt: There will be some issues with that coming up for sure, and some of those troubles are going to haunt Monroe into next year.

Jim Kouf: It’s a pretty deep mythology and one that we’re just cracking the surface of right now. Some of that will become more apparent in the episodes that are coming up very soon.

Did you guys expect Monroe to take off as the breakout character that he’s become?”

DG: We kind of did. When we first wrote the part, we realized we were onto something tremendous, and then we got Silas Wier Mitchell to play him. Monroe is just such an interesting character with a different slant. In a way, he's more human than the human characters because he’s fighting his inner demons so forcefully.

JK: Silas also gets exactly what we’re going for with the character. He’s right on the money.

Will it turn out that Nick has not been a true Grimm as he approaches the job like a police detective as opposed to how a Grimm is supposed to be, which is The Bogeyman Man of the monsters?

DG: That’s a really good question, and, yes, Nick is not your average, everyday Grimm. He does operate differently than some Grimms have traditionally operated, and we’ll learn more about that this season.

The show seems to be moving from a monster of the week format to one with a larger mythology. Was this the plan all along, or did you work it out as you went along? And this seems similar to the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel developed. Did you have these shows in mind while planning the Grimm story?

DG: It was kind of our plan all along to bring in more mythology as the series goes on, but we don’t want to bring in so much that your average everyday viewer can’t just watch one episode, So there’ll certainly be a case of the week, if not a monster of the week, every time, but in the back nine episodes of this season, you're going to see a lot more of the personal and back stories of everybody.

JK: We’re going to start revealing stuff.

DG: And I can’t even remember what the plan was on Buffy and Angel, but I’m sure there was a plan.

Do you find that your experience working on other supernatural shows influences the way that you work on or approach Grimm?

DG: Yes and no. I mean, obviously those were great experiences with great people, but you know working with my old partner Jim again, we do it a little differently. We do it one inch at a time, you know? We start at the beginning and move forward, although we do have a little bible of the overarching mythology and where we think we’re going in years to come. So again, the answer to that question is kind of a yes and no thing. Grimm is its own creature and has its own set of rules. But I love it when there’s an emotional resonance in the stories.

Are we going to see any of the creatures that we’ve seen already come back in later episodes?

JK: We hope so.

DG: Yes, we certainly hope so, and if not this year, then next year. At some point we’d love to do like a Dirty Dozen episode.

Not since Buffy have we really seen the introduction of the female characters in the supernatural theme. How important was it to you to bring in a female character with Bree Turner as a guest star on the show?

DG: Really important to us, and she’s got a great role, too. Her character is going to help balance out the power table there.

JK: We have some other great female guest stars coming up as well.

DG: There’s an episode coming up in February called “Tarantella,” and Amy Acker from Angel and Dollhouse has a great role in that one. We’re really excited about that. And Valerie Cruz is in an episode called “Organ Grinder,” which is coming up this week.

There have been subtleties planted with Juliette all season long, and you sense some type of foreshadowing. Is there a clear direction with her, since she’s been so mysterious and on a different level than a lot of the other characters?

DG: Well, there’s something pretty darn big coming for her. We watch some of the blog sites and Twitter and a lot of people have opinions of what she might be or what’s to come. However, we think we’re going to surprise them.

What’s the biggest challenge with keeping Hank in the dark as to what’s really going on with Nick?

DG: You need to have two explanations in most of the episodes of something that could have happened in the real world and something that has a Grimm story. So the biggest challenge is to have two explanations for everything. And Hank has a big thing coming this season, too.

In general, like what is it about this genre that you guys enjoy writing about the most?

JK: The freedom of it. We’re not locked into reality. We can play with reality a little bit, which makes it more fun to write.

DG: And I love taking a procedural show and having a guy turn into, for example, a Blutbad [wolf] or a Bauerschwein [a pig-like creature]. It’s just so much fun because it feels like you’re watching a regular kind of procedural show and then suddenly there are these critters.

JK: It also gives us the opportunity to explain human behavior in a very bizarre way.

Music seems to be a pretty powerful asset with this show. It always fits the scene, and then of course there are those standout moments like “Sweet Dream” in the pilot and the music in the episode with the rats. As executive producers, how important is it to you that the element of music is involved, and is it something we’ll continue to hear?

DW: Yes, we love the music. We have a great composer, Rick Marvin, who gives us terrific songs when we need them. We also love the episode with the rats where there was classical and techno music in the same episode. We thought that was kind of neat.

As Monroe becomes more connected with Nick, will the others in the [Wesen] community shun him totally? If so, might this affect his effectiveness to help out Nick?

JK: No, because not all the Wesen [Grimm creatures] are bad. Some will think that what Monroe is doing is actually a good thing.

DG: But he will have to pay for his sins.

Is Nick really the last Grimm or could there be a hidden descendant that could step forward?

JK: There will be more.

DG: Yes, there are other Grimms in the world. They’re a rare thing, but there are other Grimms in the world, all of whom are descended from the Brothers Grimm. But yes, there may be somebody even in his [Nick’s] line.

Of all the episodes you guys have shot so far, is there one that you found especially challenging to pull off from a production standpoint?

JK: All of them.

DG: There are a couple coming in February sweeps, once of which is called “The Last Grimm Standing,” and…

JK: It was a monster to shoot.

DG: And a monster to write, too. It’s a gladiatorial kind of big fighting episode, and our great team in Portland, Oregon just pulled out all the stops for that one.

I’m really enjoying David Giuntoli in the Nick role. Could tell us a little bit about casting that character and finding David to fit those shoes?

JK: It wasn’t easy.

DG: We saw a lot of people. It’s hard to find an actor in that age range who is kind of fresh-faced and yet has all the talent and the work history to be able to shoulder a show like Grimm. We’ve actually been extremely lucky with the entire cast. They’re all really, really good and fantastic people.

JK: And very nice people as well.

DG: We’ve been blessed.

I love Russell Hornsby. How did you go about casting him as Hank Griffin?

David Greenwalt: He was the best guy who came in to audition, and we had a lot of great guys that came in to read for that role, but there was something really cool but warm at the same time about Russell. We just fell in love with him and he won it in the casting process.

JK: Russell brings an authority to the role, which is great.

DG: Yes, an ease and authority. And we’ve got some really neat stuff coming up for his character. Hank’s world is going to get rocked by a woman.

Will it be with a [Grimm] creature that he cannot see as a creature?

DG: It might be.

I like the current formula where you have a covert reveal of the monster at the beginning of the episode. Will you eventually change that or actually have a human as the perpetrator for the crime?

DG: We did that initially in the episode “Of Mouse and Man,” in which the man, not the mouse, was the perpetrator of the crime. So we’ll do all kinds of different things. Sometimes there will be a good Wesen, a good creature. Other times the bad people are just normal humans and it’s the Wesen or the Grimm creatures that are in trouble. We’ll mix it up.

What’s been the biggest challenge and what’s the most fun about this show for each of you?

JK: The biggest challenge is producing the shows because we’re writing what we feel are movies that are being produced on a TV schedule. So hats off to our production team in Portland that actually is given the task of making these episodes, and they’re difficult. They’re physically challenging to make. That’s the hardest part.

The most fun for me is the mythology that we’re getting into and the chance to explore some fun stuff coming up.

DG: And for me the most challenging thing is to get to the office before noon. The most exciting thing is seeing these episodes on television and when they come out really good and they really work, and they’re dark, psychological, and kind of funny. That feels very satisfying and encourages me to get up in the morning and get in and work with Jim.

Please note, all photos above copyright of NBC.

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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