Q & A with Grimm's David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf

By , Contributor


Storytime is over, and the battle has begun on season two of Grimm.

Last fall on the premiere of the police procedural/fantasy TV series Grimm, Nick Burkhardt got more than he bargained for when his Aunt Marie unexpectedly arrived in town. The Portland, Oregon police detective discovered that he is, in fact, descended from a long line of profilers called Grimms. He and others like him are able to identify Wesen, mythical creatures that have been living among humans for centuries. While some Wesen are content to just quietly lead their lives, others have a very different, and far more deadly, agenda.

Nick’s (David Giuntoli) newfound destiny not only clashed with his duties as a detective, but it also impacted those closest to him. In the show’s first season finale, his girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) ended up in a coma, which was caused by a Hexenbiest seeking revenge on Nick. Meanwhile, Nick’s partner Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) began to question his own sanity after a brief but unforgettable encounter with Nick’s Wesen friend and confidant Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). Nick’s mother (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who he thought was dead, also came back into his life and brought with her secrets that will affect Nick’s future.

In the season two opener, "Bad Teeth" (which aired this past Monday at 10:00 p.m. EST/PST on NBC), a dangerous Wesen arrived in Portland from Europe with a mission to kill Nick and acquire three gold coins with special powers. With our hero’s life set to become even more complicated as the season unfolds, Grimm co-creators/executive producers David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf spoke with me as well as other journalists last week and dropped some hints as to what lies ahead for Nick and company. The following is an edited version of our Q & A. Enjoy!

The season one finale really left audiences with a number of questions. So could you address a little bit about why Nick’s mom is back, is Juliette dying or not, and what’s going on with the coins?

DAVID GREENWALT: With regards to Juliette, well, you have to stay tuned to find that out. As far as the coins, well, you really have to stay tuned to find that out. When it comes to why Nick’s mom is back, that will be explained in the first episode. She’s been on a long quest and they have lots of issues to work out with each other. And boy, does Nick have a lot of questions he wants answered. If you think you want your questions answered, he wants his questions answered and quite a few of them will be answered. We’re not going to continue to tease viewers. In episodes one and two, a lot of your questions will be very clearly answered.

One of the things that you said at the Comic-Con 2012 round table was that Nick is going to get stronger and better at what he does. Can you address that, and if you can’t, can you talk about the theme for the season?

DG: In the first episode Nick is going to face something unlike anything he has ever faced before. It will be bigger, badder, more dangerous, and more vicious. And Nick is growing into his own and part of that is learning more about his past from his mother and coming to grips with a lot of the emotional things that have happened to him. As far as the theme for the season...

JIM KOUF: We’re still deciding that.

DG: We don’t have a theme. The first year Nick kind of came to grips with all of this. In season two, it is going to be him coming into his own, and he’s going to be challenged on many levels, not only with everything that he’s learning from his mother, but with complications from Juliette as well. Also, because he’s becoming known more now amongst the Wesen, there are a lot of bad critters now coming to Portland just for Nick.

JK: We’ll also reveal some more of the deeper history with the Grimms and tie it to some more real events in the past.

Are we going to see more of a romance develop between the Rosalee (Bree Turner) and Monroe characters this season?

DG: We certainly are.

JK: I think so.

DG: Well, of course there will be an attraction there. They each have a past and...

JK: The road gets a little rocky.

DG: Yes, the road gets a little rocky, and challenges will have to be faced and met.

David, you were heavily involved with Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as Angel, and Jim you were also part of Angel. Those shows had such huge followings, and now with Grimm we’re also seeing a big cult following. Did you guys always think that Grimm would go that way as well or has it just been a pleasant surprise?

DG: Well, it’s wonderful to have a “cult” following and, for example, we had a really nice presence at Comic-Con. But I think these kinds of shows, and particularly Grimm, are designed to be what we call a hybrid, so it’s a part procedural, part genre show. We were hoping to have a slightly broader appeal for this show than for those great shows, Buffy and Angel, that you mentioned, thank you. We were hoping to have a broader appeal in order to draw in a few more people. So if you just like a Law and Order/solve a crime-type of story, you can watch this show. If you like mythology and critters you can really watch this show. So we’re pleasantly surprised at anything that gets on the air and is a success, and that’s a wonderful thing for us and audiences around the world.

Is it going to be a rough relationship between Nick and his mom? Will they finally resolve their issues? Is Nick going to be a little mad at his Aunt Marie because she never told him about his mom? And is Nick’s dad ever going to show up, even though his mother told him, no, he’s dead for sure.

DG: Those are all questions that we promise will be answered in the first episode. Nick has all kinds of feelings about the mother, including loss, grief, and, yes, some anger. That question about his father will be answered, too. We promise we’re not going to keep that as a big tease.

Why David Giuntoli? I’m sure you saw thousands of people. What was it about him that really jumped out at all of you and made you think, “This is the guy we need to play Nick Burkhardt"?

JK: David had a powerful presence and yet a vulnerability and kind of astonishment that he could deliver in a performance. He’s playing this guy who is rediscovering what he is and facing a lot of mysteries that he never knew existed.

Ultimately, these actors win it [the role] in the audition room and in front of the networks as well as all the people involved in making the decisions. So you really don’t know until the last moment.

DG: David had this everyman quality which you can really project onto him as if that was happening to you. In a way, it’s one of the tougher roles in the show because everyone else is a little bit more quirky, and some are evil as well. Everybody seems to have a very specific point of view and David plays Nick as the one that all this is happening to. I find it really easy to identify with him. Plus he’s got a very weird and wonderful sense of humor.

At the end of season one, Nick finally tells Juliette what he’s doing as far as being a Grimm. You also have Hank seeing Monroe transform. What is the balance of bringing in some characters to know what’s going on and then maybe keeping others still in the dark? And how do you plan on balancing that throughout the second season?

DG: Jim and I really try to keep the show grounded in reality, and as Nick’s partner, Hank would be exposed to stuff that the average person would not be exposed to. Eventually he’s going to start asking questions and thinking he’s a little crazy. As for Nick’s girlfriend/fiancée/potential wife Juliette, she’s going to feel like a secret is being kept from her. In last season’s finale, Nick had to tell her what was going on as it was the only way to get her to go see a doctor.

What will happen with all of that remains to be seen. As you know, she didn’t take it very well. Juliette thought he was crazy when he was telling her, which had been his fear all along.

Will we get more insight into Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) earlier on, or is he going to remain a mystery throughout the second season?

JK: You’re going to get a lot about Renard really early on.

DG: There are going to be some big questions answered and some new problems posed. And he, too, is going to be faced with a lot of conflict.

What have been some of your biggest challenges from both a production and writing standpoint so far in season two?

JK: We always think that we’re making feature films every week and we find that’s really difficult on a TV schedule. Because we tend to write big action-based stories, we’re always pushing the limits of what our current crew can actually accomplish in eight days.

DG: We like to write little short scenes where something big happens in almost every scene. If we were doing an animated show then we could get away with that quite easily, but luckily we have this amazing crew as well as cast and they are working very hard to bring all this to life.

JK: We have a big special effects team that works on trying to get all these characters morphed. And the special effects that we do are a challenge in and of themselves as well getting them done on a television schedule.

What’s going to be happening with Monroe in season two?

DG: Monroe is going to be faced with some issues from his past. He’s also going to be faced with some life and death issues because of his relationship with Nick, which he refuses to give up. There are a lot of forces at work that do not like the idea of cooperating with what we call Wesen, which are the critters.

JK: Monroe is also going to have another relationship with another officer.

If season one of Grimm was all about Nick’s journey, then in some ways Monroe was kind of his guide on that journey. Now that Nick’s mom has appeared, and presumably has a different perspective on Wesen than Monroe does, how is her presence going to affect Nick's and Monroe’s relationship?

JK: That’s a good question because we have to deal with that, which we do, and it’s a little ugly.

DG: Very early on in the second season opener there’s a clash between Monroe and Nick’s mom. Monroe asks, “Who is this insane person?” and Nick tells him, “Well, she happens to be my mom.” So you’ve got all kinds of conflict going on and Nick’s mom does not approve of her son fraternizing with the Wesen, so to speak.

What has Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio brought to the role of Nick’s mom? What’s it been like working with her?

JK: She’s brought great strength, warmth, and emotion to the role. She’s also physical and tough, which is great.

Is there a different approach in season two as far as keeping the show accessible but also going deeper into the mythology and the characters?

DG: Well, some episodes have a little more mythology than others, but overall the show is still designed to be a hybrid between a procedural and a genre show. You can watch Grimm without having all of the history, but if you’re an avid fan, then you will see more things in the show.

JK: You will see more growth of the characters throughout the second season. That’s what we try to do, let the characters develop in a natural way.

Compared to season one, how will Nick be different this year, based on the reactions or understanding from those around him?

DG: His partner Juliette has seen a lot of crazy stuff, and Nick 'fessed up to her about everything, but she did not take it very well. However, now she’s in a coma and who knows what’s going to happen there.

JK: He’s got to deal with his familial legacy and his mom, and he will learn a lot more about his past and his family...

DG: Nick does business in a different way from most Grimms. He’s got a Wesen buddy in Monroe — Wesen being the word for these critters — and he cooperates with them. Nick doesn’t just shoot first and ask questions later. Historically, Grimms are like, “If I see a Wesen I’m cutting their head off.” That’s not Nick’s approach, so his life is going to be both richer and more complicated because of who he is.

How will Hank’s journey be different in season two?

JK: Hank has some real issues coming up in the first three episodes of the second season.

DG: He’s seen some stuff that he can’t explain and it’s going to start throwing him into quite a tizzy.

Please note, all Grimm photos 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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