CCI: Grimm Creators, Cast Delve Into Its Mythology (and Vocabulary)
The cast and crew of NBC’s Grimm gathered at Comic-Con International to discuss where the fantasy drama is headed in its second season. The panel consisted of writers Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, director Norberto Barba, executive producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, and stars David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz and Bree Turner.
Grimm follows Portland Det. Nick Burkhardt (Giuntoli), who discovers he’s the last in a long line of Grimms, hunters dedicated to maintaining the balance between humanity and the fairy-tale monsters that would seek to destroy it.
“This concept came from a man named Todd Milliner, who was taking a shower about six years ago and he thought, ‘What’s in the public domain?’” Greenwalt explained.\
Not all of the creatures, known as Wesen, come directly from public domain characters, however. Some are new creations or allusions to characters that weren’t in the Grimm fairy tales.
“It depends on the story,” Kouf said. “A lot of the stories we think of as actual stories that are happening now and the crimes that are happening now. A lot of crime has a weird, strange fairy-tale aspect to it. So we latch on to that and try to describe who would do such a crime. We spend a lot of time studying German language books trying to come up with the names.”
“We make up the names sometimes,” Greenwalt added. “It’s not always a literal translation.”
Kouf said they decided to both shoot and set the show in Portland, Oregon, because “the Grimms were based in the Black Forest in Germany, and Portland was one of the places that matched the original locations for the stories. It’s very fairy tale-like up there.”
Grimm provides a unique acting challenge for Giuntoli, who has to interact with CG-based creatures in every episode. “I’ve gotten very good at watching a face morph,” he said. “But it’s not really a face, it’s just an ‘X’ on a stick.”
Tulloch plays Nick’s girlfriend Juliette Silverton, who got to see some action herself last season, leading the actress to confess she was “really, really, really overly excited on the episode when they gave me a gun.”
Fan-favorite actor Mitchell plays Monroe, a werewolf-like blutbad who assists Nick in his investigations. Mitchell described the unique vocabulary the show uses for its creatures as “fun, because it almost feels like the writers challenge us with these insane faux-German constructions. The writers take real German words and kind of rearrange them and put them in orders that they aren’t normally.”
“There’s a dialogue coach who emails you,” Tulloch said.
“That’s true,” Giuntoli said, “and she also adds the German word, the Americanized version of the word and the Grimm-ish word.”
A recent addition to the cast, Turner plays Rosalee Calvert, a fox-like Wesen who runs a Wesen spice shop. “I’ve done a lot of jobs,” the actress said, “and I’ve never been so seamlessly integrated into a show as this one.”
Hornsby portrays one of the drama’s few non-Grimmish characters, Nick’s partner Hank Griffin, who saw his first Wesen near the end of the first season. “I just think Hank is trying to get his sanity back,” the actor said. “Seeing a creature morph right in front of your eyes has taken him off-center just a little bit.”
Lee plays Sergeant Wu, who’s responsible for much of the series’ comic relief. “Hopefully Sergeant Wu will get a first name,” Lee joked.
Roiz plays Nick’s boss Captain Sean Renard, who has his own mysterious motives on the show. “There’s a lot of things that are brewing,” he said. “There are a lot of things that will be revealed. It’s going to be a very exciting season.”
Greenwalt promised new fairy tales will be explored this season, but not all of them will come from Grimm’s fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm were merely profilers of these creatures, he said, so it makes sense that other famous writers in other cultures would also have written about Wesen. Greenwalt revealed that this season will see a creature that looks like a saber-tooth tiger attempt to hunt down Nick.
Kouf added, “What’s extinct in our world is not necessarily extinct in the Wesen world.”
He said there were two things he and Greenwalt knew they wanted to do before they even made the show: bring back Nick’s mom and also to do a take on Hitler. It wasn’t clear whether the Hitler comment was a joke, and it sent the audience into murmurs.
The panel was then opened up to the floor to questions.
Kouf told a young fan that coming up with the German names is difficult, but also a lot of fun. “What is the soul of the creature we are trying to create and then we take a couple of German words and put them together until it sounds right,” he said.
Mitchell’s favorite episode is the one involving the Spinnetod, a giant spider that sucks the life out of young men to stay alive.
He said he enjoys playing a good guy for a change, instead of the villains or weirdoes he is usually typecast as. “It’s so much fun! It’s interesting because the blutbad is sort of a villainous Wesen, and it’s really fun to have the potential to go [bad] but the choice is made not to,” Mitchell said. “It’s really a delight to live in the mindspace or frame of mind that is more about helping than harming.”
A fan asked whose side Captain Renard is really on. “I’m just in it for myself,” Roiz said. “If [Nick] proves a help or a hindrance I’ll deal with it appropriately.”
Grimm is much more violent than most of the other NBC programming, and a fan asked if so much violence was part of the initial network pitch. “They loved the pitch from the beginning,” Kouf replied. “That’s one of the things they signed off on.”
Greenwalt added, “The show’s meant to be dark but it’s also meant to be fun and entertaining.”
As expected Kouf wasn’t forthcoming when asked where the show is going. “We have a lot of ideas on where we want to go with it,” he joked. “We just don’t want to tell you!”
Following up on that question, a fan asked if the panel could promise not to leave any questions unanswered when the show eventually comes to an end.
Hayes replied, “I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Another fan wanted to know whether Monroe and Rosalee’s relationship will grow stronger in the second season.
“Show them the baby!” Greenwalt said as Turner stood up to reveal she’s pregnant.
“The Wesen gestation period is really fast,” Mitchell joked.
A fan asked Lee what he ate during the scene in which his character, after drinking a mysterious potion, began eating everything in his living room.
“The sofa was pound cake, the carpet was cotton candy, the coins were chocolate,” he replied, “and the paperclip was a paperclip.”
Grimm begins its second season Aug. 13 on NBC.