Nick’s Blutbad Bud Monroe Opens Up

Dark thoughts beneath a bright sky?
(Photo credit: Jeff Katz Photography.)

As reformed Blutbad clockmaker Monroe on Grimm, Silas Weir Mitchell is the often comedic glue that holds the show together. That’s not to take away from co-stars David Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby, but the quirky, laid back character of Monroe, who assists Detective Nick Burkhardt in solving cases of a supernatural Wesen origin, provides both insight and humor that gives the deliciously dark show its emotional balance. A.D.D. recently chatted with Mitchell about Grimm, his character, applying psychology to the show and being a “prop slut”.

I sit and watch Grimm and wonder, “Why does Monroe put up with all of this?” He keeps helping Nick out with his Wesen problems, and there is always something that goes wrong. And they nearly died in that twisted fight club. But you keep coming back for more.
I think there’s a reluctance, but at the same time it challenges him. You can’t be a recluse your whole life, and there’s a sense that if he could do some good in the world, why not?

I remember when his crazy ex-girlfriend showed up, and they woke up in the woods after having killed something.
Yeah, those were the bad old days.

Monroe is a great role for you, isn’t he?
Yes, it’s a good fit. I get the sense of humor, and I think the writers are very smart. Once they got the sense of who the actors were about five or six episodes into the first season, then they started writing to that. If you can write to the actor and have it still be true to the story, you’re in good shape.

Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner)
in “The Kiss,” the second episode from Season Two.
(Photo credit: Scott Green/NBC.)

I watched your audition tape on the Season One set. You were really into the scenes, and I wondered what was going through your mind because some actors might not take it that seriously. They might find it funny or wouldn’t get it. You were very focused.
That’s what an actor does, right? They focus on something until it becomes real. That’s what your job as an actor is, to take this imaginary human event and make it as real as possible. Then the writing does the work. If you meet the writing face-to-face and it’s decent writing, you’re going to be fine.

I’m a horror, sci-fi and fantasy fan, and there are certain aspects of those genres that can seem ludicrous to certain people. There are also a lot of people who take this stuff really seriously. What I like about your character on the show is that he takes things seriously, but he also kind of rolls with them. Because you’re not so intense, you can pull off talking about stuff that seems silly. And then there’s that TV formula at work where everything supernatural seemingly happens in Portland, Oregon.
It doesn’t have to be everything. There might be supernatural stuff happening elsewhere, but there aren’t people there who know how to see or deal with it. It’s not like Portland is the only place in the world where this shit’s going on. It is just happens to be where this new Grimm lives. People have asked this question before: “What’s up with all the weird shit in Portland?” Weird shit is going on in other places too, people just don’t know they’re dealing with Wesen because they’re not Grimms. Look at your local news — there are child abductors, arsonists and rapists. Those are bad creatures doing bad creature stuff, it’s just that the cops who are dealing with them don’t happen to be Grimms. They just don’t happen to be involved in this whole weird, global Grimm thing. The second season is going to get more into the underpinnings of the world. Anyway, that’s how I justify it. Wesen are out there everywhere, there are just not that many Grimms who see them for what they are. They just look like Charles Manson or the local child molester.

Or Hitler, as one episode showed us. You know, I think a good spinoff show would be Monroe the Clockmaker, and it would just be you without any crazy supernatural stuff. Maybe Nick can help you track down the owners of some rare clocks or watches.
So invert the paradigm, basically?

Yes. What can you tell us about the second season as far as your character and what you would like to see happen with your character?
I just think getting more involved. Committing to this thing is where it’s at because there’s still a lot of danger and a lot of peril that Monroe finds himself in, but I think the trust is there and I’m finding some real enjoyment in being out in the world and being a force for good. I’m not out there doing the old world Blutbad stuff, and I know that it’s still a turncoat thing as far as certain Wesen are concerned. There are people who don’t want me involved with a Grimm. It’s definitely perilous, but I think what we’re going to see more is that I enjoy the act of engaging in the world and not just being this atavistic, cave-like clockmaker.

Monroe’s inner beast lurks just below the surface.
Jung would have had a field day with him.
(Photo credit: Michael Muller/NBC.)

You have mentioned that you are a “prop slut”. Explain.
A prop slut just really means that as soon as I walk into a new space on set, I look for behaviors that involve environment because that’s what people do when they’re in the world, you know what I mean? You pick things up and you use them. That integrates the actor with the space so you feel like you’re not just standing there saying words.

Who’s the biggest prankster on set? Is there somebody who plays a lot of jokes?
No. David [Giuntoli] and I crack each other up, but it’s not like practical jokes. “Look out, there’s a pail of water over the door!” There’s not a lot of that kind of thing. They write these things where we really should have nine or 10 days to shoot and we have eight, so there’s not a lot of time for that. We get it done, but we also have to go back and pick something up a few weeks later that we didn’t get when we were actually shooting.

As an undergrad at Brown University, you double majored in theater arts and religious studies. You spent a lot of time reading about the psychological theories of Freud and Jung. One of the basic concepts that Jung discussed is the shadow side, which you can apply to Grimm.
Jung is mostly archetypes, which are basically instincts that have imagery applied to them. The creature world is very much about that. Jung is cool — he’s not as highbound as Freud, he’s not as rigid. Freud tried to cram every patient into his own schema, whereas Jung saw the uniqueness to each person’s complexes.

Freud also saw phallic symbols everywhere.
That’s what I mean. He had these ideas and forced everything into Id, Ego and Superego. I get it, but not everything is a repressed desire to fuck your mother, you know what I mean?

Monroe in a furry fury.
(Image courtesy of NBC.)

Do you think that Jung holds up better than Freud over the years?
I think they hold up equally well. It just depends what type of person is attracted to what type of thought. It’s impossible to suggest that Freud wasn’t on to something because the framework that he erected is incredibly sturdy. Whether it’s totally accurate 100% isn’t really the point because it’s so powerful and sturdy that it can withstand major analysis. Jung is the same way, but he’s more fluid. Jung deals with time and dreams. There’s a fluid quality to Jung’s way of thinking. He got bananas in the end — he was really dealing with the imagery from the unconscious and swimming all around it. It depends on what kind of person you are. Freud built this really sturdy boat that you could go and sail on the waters of the unconscious to figure things out, whereas Jung just jumped into the ocean.

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