Silas Weir Mitchell might seem very familiar to you as he has appeared in over 100 television shows, including The Mentalist, Numb3rs, Prison Break and Burn Notice.
His new series, NBC’s Grimm is a provocative police procedural coupled with a supernatural mythology that is inspired by the Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tales. Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) has just discovered that he is a direct descendant of the Grimm Brothers, that their stories were real and the ‘characters’ in the fairy tales are still roaming the countryside creating havoc.
During one of his investigations, he meets Monroe (Mitchell), a reformed Grimm-creature, who reluctantly becomes Nick’s informant.
What attracted you to the role of Monroe?
What attracted me to it was it was a job really. I mean, there was an audition for one of the leads in the pilot, so there you go! I didn’t seek it out, I got the call, ‘Hey, there’s an audition for this thing,’ and I read the script and I thought it was cool.
But given the fact that I’m doing it what really does attract me to the role is the inner conflict. That is rich territory for an actor to have that kind of secret, you know? Not only to have a secret but to have a secret that you’re trying to deal with on a daily basis. It’s not just a secret from the past.
It’s a secret that in every breath you’re trying to maintain. And that’s really fun to play. I also think the mythological elements of the story are very compelling.
I really feel in a lot of ways the creature elements of the show are an expression of the mythological underpinnings of, not to get high faluntin’, the human psyche. We all live in a world where there are monsters.
Monsters are real and you look at murderers and people who are on death row and people who have done terrible things like Richard Ramirez or the Son of Sam.
And I feel like the creature elements of this show in a lot of ways are addressing that mythical darkness that because if you bring myth into it, you can discuss it in broader terms and not just make it about the procedural element which is a huge part of the show.
Will we learn about your character’s background in future episodes?
I’m a reformed Bluebod, I’m trying to live as a human on the straight and narrow. And we will definitely learn more about my character in future episodes. But as far as his family history, we’re not getting into that yet.
You and David have a great rapport on screen, how do you make that chemistry work?
I can only talk about this case in particular, but we’re very lucky in the sense that we love working together. I have a lot of respect for David and I think he’s very well cast and he’s just a lovely guy.
He’s a smart guy and we like working together so establishing a rapport on camera is not difficult because we have a very good one off camera.
They cast this show very well, and somehow they managed to put a group of people together that has great chemistry, and I don’t know how you do that.
What kind of research did you do into werewolves for this role?
The research I did was really reading. I’m presently at arm’s length of a book that was written in 1933, it’s one of the classics, this is no joke, on lycanthropy and werewolfism.
There are pages of it that are in Latin and pages of it that are in like middle-French, it’s really fun.
Because of the mythological elements of this, the werewolf is a real thing. There are stories that are not just occult lore. In France in the 18th century there was a guy who terrorized the French countryside, running around at night stealing children and mutilating them. One way of addressing that is to say, ‘You’re a monster. You’re a werewolf.’
It wasn’t mythological then, I think now we recognize that the werewolf is a myth. But the research of reading stories from a time when the werewolf was a real thing is pretty intense when you really put yourself in the shoes of someone who believed that a transformation took place and that a beast roamed the hills. That’s pretty intense.
Is there any make up involved in your transformation or is it entirely CG?
It’s both. The idea is that it’s CGI on top of make up, but you can still tell that it’s my face. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, but the three ingredients are prosthetics, computer graphics and my face.
They really make an effort to fuse the prosthetics and the CGI in such a way that you can tell that’s it’s me underneath it. And they do that with other creatures that are coming down the pike.
That makes sense as you’re supposed to be human looking to everybody except David’s character.
Yeah, those are the rules. You look at Charles Manson, you see a human. But if a Grimm looked at Charles Manson, they would see the beast that the guy is underneath the human mask. You have to have the perceptive powers of a Grimm.
What is the make up process like for you?
Long, that’s what it’s like. It’s long!
Can you tell us about the upcoming episodes of Grimm?
All I can tell you is the episodes get deliciously dark and creepy. And NBC is letting us go there, so to speak, which I think is fantastic.
Grimm Season 1 Episode 5 “Danse Macabre” airs December 8, 2011 and Episode 6 “The Three Bad Wolves” airs December 9, 2011