David Giuntoli plays the dashing, daring monster hunter on Grimm, which became a surprise hit for NBC last fall, and rightfully so. It is nice to see a mainstream horror series with intelligence and wit prospering during prime time. Giuntoli’s Portland detective must cope with the reality that he is descended from a line of Grimms (yes, the fairy tales were true) that keep an underground creature population in line. But even with this newfound edict he is learning that not everything is as it seems in the world of man and beast, and that not everyone has the same allegiances.
Yeah, I think it’s pretty cool. I don’t know why the genre is so popular right now. I’ve heard reasons like the economic downturn or people wanting escapism without having to pay $17 for a movie, but it’s certainly having a resurgence. I think people just like getting lost in fantasy, and they’re remembering that right now. It’s making money, so we are going to keep putting it out there.
Are you a genre fan or is this a role that you just fell into?
It’s a role that I fell into, but upon getting the role I started watching a lot more genre stuff. I don’t have a ton of time right now weirdly, but it is the most interest I’ve had in the genre. I’ve been watching The Walking Dead, which I think is a fantastic show and really well done. I caught up on some older stuff like Buffy and Angel because some of our creators had a large hand in the creation of those shows.
Are you finally embracing the genre because of your role?
I’m embracing it because of the role, and I understand the fun of it now. The genre’s great in that I think people really…when you’re a kid, you fantasize constantly and you’re horrified of everything. Usually when you get older, you reason out a lot of the fears and get less afraid of what goes bump in the night. But the genre of fantasy and horror allows you to suspend that adult mind that you’ve grown into that’s so rigid and let’s you get afraid again of things that aren’t reasonable and shouldn’t be happening, and you get to be that kid again and be afraid of monsters and zombies and fairytale creatures.
“I was raised very Catholic, and anything about death and dying horrified me. I didn’t like any possibility after death. I didn’t like nothing and didn’t like eternity. I was between a real rock and a hard place there.”
You have a bit of a Christopher Reeve vibe going on with your performance. You can be very dramatic, but at other times you purposely try to be understated.
Yeah, very understated at times.
It’s better than you going completely over the top with the role.
That’s what I wanted to do. It’s a choice, and that’s how I like to do it.
Are there any monster hunters you like or have researched for this series?
As research, I watched almost every Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought the cast was fantastic, and I thought Sarah Michelle Gellar was fantastic. I love the kind of snarky humor involved in the entire show. I thought it was smart. I think often that horror plays up only the horror and the camp, which is all great, but you don’t quibble too much with the writing on Buffy. They respect the viewer’s intelligence. It’s funny, it’s human and it’s campy at the same time, which I think is very hard to do. It’s scary without being completely gruesome. I really love the tone of that show. I think our show is a bit different than that, and we want it to be different than that, but that’s one of my favorite instances of monster hunters.
Are there any others you like?
They’re all over the place. I was watching The Fugitive again last night, and this guy’s looking for a one-armed man. Everything depends on it. The stakes are so high, and he’s understated. Not that amputees are monsters certainly, but in storytelling the good guy’s always looking for the bad guy who happens to be the monster. You look for people to help you along the way. There are all these characters in The Fugitive [played by] people who became very famous later on. The film is great too.
You told me that The Shining traumatized you as a child. What was the worst part of it for you?
That moment when the naked elderly woman, who was just rotten to bits, comes out of the bathtub. That was horrible. Or the twin girls. The Shining was told largely through a kid’s eyes, so it spoke to me as a young boy. I would see these little twin girls, and it would just horrify me. It was terrible.
Even as an adult I still get creeped out after I watch a horror movie right before bed.
Don’t go to bed right after a horror movie, that’s what I realized. Maybe watch 30 Rock if you can.
“The genre of fantasy and horror allows you to suspend that adult mind that you’ve grown into that’s so rigid and let’s you get afraid again of things that aren’t reasonable and shouldn’t be happening.”
Are there any other scary stories that you remember from your childhood?
There was this series of books called Scary Stories. I don’t know if it was a big deal, but it was a big deal with my group of friends, and there was a story — I’m sure it’s a legend that goes throughout many, many cultures over many, many years — about a girl who always wore a ribbon around her neck. Everybody would ask her what the deal was, and she would say, nothing, nothing. Finally some kid pulls the ribbon off, and her head just falls off her neck. It had been holding up her severed head under her neck, and that was horrifying to me. That scared me every time I read it. I would look at the book and always get horrified. I was raised very Catholic, and anything about death and dying horrified me. I didn’t like any possibility after death. I didn’t like nothing and didn’t like eternity. I was between a real rock and a hard place there.
I guess it makes perfect sense now that you ended up in Grimm.
It makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it?
Do you ever wonder if kids today are going to be affected by stuff the way we were when we were kids?
I do. I wonder about that with all culture, like music. As far as being afraid goes, I think that is something that is in us as humans, however many hundreds of thousands of years old the modern human is. And I think there is something about technology. I watched Jaws again, and that was really horrible technology. It just didn’t look that real in many cases. Or Godzilla, it’s just horrible, just not up to par, and it takes you out of the movie because we’re so used to very seamless CGI stuff. I think that might stick out for kids and take them out of it. They might laugh at it and not be afraid of those things, but I think that underlying story is going to scare people forever.
The new Godzilla movies look cooler. They went more digital with the effects recently. You also have CGI in Grimm, but it’s not always overdone, which is good. The show still relies more on acting and storytelling to be effective.
For me, I would prefer just prosthesis at times. It’s more fun as an actor, and I think it looks a little more real, but the CGI is great as well.