Silas Weir Mitchell Talks Grimm Episode 1.03
NBC has a new Friday night hit on its hands with Grimm, which airs the brand new Episode 1.03: Beeware on Friday, November 11 at 9 PM ET. Actor Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays the werewolf Monroe, recently held a conference call to discuss the latest episode. Here's what he had to say below.
Could you elaborate more on your character and will we learn more about your character's background in future episodes?
Silas Weir Mitchell: Well to elaborate more on my character basically I suppose everything you hear in the pilot is - you know that's pretty much as far as we get, you know? I mean I'm a Blutbot and I am sort of a reformed Blutbot, 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 sort of family history we're not getting into that yet, we do learn about the clock maker and you know. But it doesn't get too much into my history or anything.
Could you perhaps tell us a little bit about your experiences shooting the pilot episode for Grimm and maybe what were some of the initial challenges you found stepping into this role?
Silas Weir Mitchell: Well shooting the pilot was both really, really exciting and it was really, really challenging. I mean you're allowed more time to shoot the pilot than a normal episode, almost twice as much time. So you can be more deliberate, but you also don't have an infrastructure that's kind of set up which you do once you get a production up and running. So it was challenging just on the level of the production value that we were going for, that was hard to try to make it as the best thing as possible without having a production infrastructure that had been working together for a while. So that was a big challenge. On a production level for me specifically it was just the idea of you know I've been on a lot of series but I've never been sort of the central sort of pillars of the narrative really. And I found that to be challenging in its own right knowing that a lot was riding on it. You know that was challenging. But luckily we all have a great time working together. It was a really - it's a great environment to work. So everything kind of came out well I'd say.
Can you talk a little bit about your process to establish that kind of close relationship you guys are going to have to have to really make the chemistry work?
Silas Weir Mitchell: I can only talk about this case in particular but we're very lucky in the sense that we love working together and I have a lot of respect for David (Giuntoli) and I think he's sort of - I think he's very well cast and I think he's just a lovely guy. And 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.
In terms of how you use your body, how you use your physicality for this role, sort of the werewolf tendencies that come out, can you speak a little bit to that? I felt like you know when you're transforming into sort of your werewolf side taking over, your shoulders are a bit more hunched, do you have sort of a sense of what your body does to make that really happen?
Silas Weir Mitchell: Well yeah, I mean there's a thing that happens, and yeah. I mean you just said it the shoulders hunch a little bit, there's a little of you know - there's a little bit of a facial - you know moving - since you know if the morph was expressed in my foot, my foot would do something. You know what I mean? But because it's my face then my head does something.
Can you talk about how you got involved in the show in the first place?
Silas Weir Mitchell: Yeah, I worked with Jim Kouf who is one of the creators and writers of the show along with David Greenwalt but I worked with Jim Kouf on a movie that he wrote, directed and produced called Fork in the Road in 2007 I believe. And we just hit it off, you know we had a good working relationship and you know he and I have a sort of - I understand his sense of humor and I was auditioning for a role where they expected a different kind of - really in their minds when they wrote it envisioned one kind of person that this character was. And Fern Castle who is the casting director thought that I might be an interesting kind of other way to go. And you know casting directors try to do that, they try to give you the choices that you think it's going to be and then they always bring in sort of the black sheep. Just to say you know what about this idea and a lot of times I'm the black sheep, I'm the sort of what about going this way kind of guy. And it doesn't really work out very often because people have their hearts set on kind of one thing. In this case I was the way to go and it was the opposite of what he had anticipated and so I sort of struck a nerve with him and we had a great time then henceforth working on the project and so you know when this came along, they just called me in. You know I think that they said oh this guy would be good because we saw him, you know we worked with him before. So that's how it went, you know it's just I happened to know Jim.
A werewolf is a character we all know but very few actors get to be one. I'm wondering what kind of research you did or if there were any tests in werewolves that influenced you know your character?
Silas Weir Mitchell: 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 and all that. There are pages of it that are in Latin and pages of it that are in like middle French, it's really fun. Because the werewolf, like I was saying about the mythological elements of this, the werewolf is a real thing. I mean there are stories that are not just like occult lore where you know in France in the 18th century, you know there was a guy who terrorized the French country side running around at night stealing children. And you know mutilating them. And what's our answer to that? Who do we - you know what is that? And one of the ways of addressing that is to say you're a monster, you're a werewolf, you know? And so the research was for me was reading these stories sometimes when these were real. 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.
I was wondering if there's any make up involved in your transformation at all or is it entirely CG?
Silas Weir Mitchell: No, it's not, it's both. The idea is that it's CGI on top of makeup but you still can tell that it's my face. I mean there's a lot of stuff that goes into it but the three ingredients really are prosthetics, computer graphics and my face. Because the idea is that when someone morphs, they don't just turn into a werewolf like generic or you know someone is like a beetle creature or you know whatever. They don't just turn into a beetle, they turn into their beetle, you know what I mean? They turn into what they would look like as this creature so they really make an effort to fuse the prosthetics and the CGI in such a way that you can tell that it's me underneath it. And that they do that with other creatures that are coming down the pike.
Which totally makes sense if they're supposed to be you know human looking to everybody else all the time.
Silas Weir Mitchell: Yeah, those are the rules, you know that you know I mean it really is to me if you think of it in terms of a murderer or a - you know whatever, kidnapper or something that they look like a human. 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. That's only if you have the perceptive powers of a Grimm.
What you can you tell us about the upcoming episodes of Grimm and if you have a favorite fairy tale that was covered?
Silas Weir Mitchell: All I can tell you is the episodes get sort of deliciously dark and creepy. And NBC is letting us go there so to speak which I think is fantastic. I didn't really grow up on fairy tales per se. I kind of grew up on - there was one book that I had as a child which I've mentioned in other interviews which was called Slovenly Peter. It's also known as Shock Headed Peter and it's an old German book, forget what the German word is for slovenly or shock headed. I forget right now, you'd have to hypnotize me but it would come to me. Anyway, it had cautionary tales in it and they were pretty grisly. You know and the idea was you know the cautionary tale of what - you know the little girl who played with matches, you know? And what happens if you play with matches, and in the end of the story she's burnt to a crisp, she's like a pile of ashes. So that was sort of the German fairy tale book that I had, it wasn't Grimm but it was grim if you know what I mean.
I was really interested in knowing what was your biggest challenge? Or did you find anything in the pilot when you were filming it to be a really challenging - you know did you have a tough time with any of it?
Silas Weir Mitchell: Yeah, the thing that was the most challenging was it was really practical. It wasn't like a challenging in an aesthetic sense, it was just the challenge was knowing that you're shooting a pilot that you really it's a - you really want to do well. And you know from an actor's point of view it's lovely to be employed, it is lovely to be employed in a part in a role that you find rich. It is lovely to be employed in a role that you find rich working with people that you actually like, okay? So you got all these things lined up, then you have to shoot a six page scene in four hours, you know what I mean? And so that was the only challenge. You know for the record that is a lot of pages in and not a lot of time. So to me the greatest challenge was even though we had more days than we would normally shoot the pilot, I found the challenge to be living honestly and having fun keeping the stakes of the thing at bay, i.e. wanting it to be good and get picked up and all that jazz. Just trying to get through a very long scene you know without rushing it and making it - still making it good. So the challenge was a very practical one.
Are you going to be able to keep your werewolf tendencies under wraps going forward or are we going to see your inner beast popping out every now and then?
Silas Weir Mitchell: Oh the inner beast pops out every now and then.
Monroe has a dark history, but I feel like he's more of an endearing sort of fun character, has that kind of been a nice change for you? Or is something interesting for you to do as an actor, sort of changing up some of your typical type of roles?
Silas Weir Mitchell: I think that's a great question and I appreciate that awareness of yours. But yeah, it is, it's lovely to play someone who is not crazy, any more than the next guy. I mean that might be debatable, you know I mean some people might say well he is a little crazier than the next guy but you know not in a kind of the way you're talking. I mean Monroe, you know Monroe is definitely a unique person. But not crazy in the way that you're talking and it is nice to have that change, to not play someone who's you know feverishly disturbed you know. Or evil for that matter.
I really enjoyed the pilot and I do love your character and I was wondering, I know the show kind of centrally is located around Portland. But do you think they will be going in other areas or other cities or towns?
Silas Weir Mitchell: You know Portland has so much going for it I would be surprised if we went too far afield but I wouldn't put it out of - you know it's not out of the question that we will go farther outside of Portland than we've gone. But I don't see us sort of you know shooting in Eugene or something, I don't know why we would really do that. But you know what I mean, is that what you mean, like would we shoot in another town or something?
Like for example if the storyline for whatever reason say something unusual happens in another town and they ask him or your expertise and you say go to that town or something like that.
Silas Weir Mitchell: You know I wouldn't say that's out of the question at all, but I certainly - I don't think it's something that we're - that I don't think that the writers are kind of aiming to do that right now. I think Portland is so varied in its various environments, I mean really it has a downtown, and then 15 minutes you're in the literally in a rain forest, you know in an hour you can be at the beach. In an hour you can be on Mount Hood and it has lots of different neighborhoods. You see what I mean, so there's so many various types of looks and places to shoot that I think it's not something that they're sort of hell bent to do, you know what I mean? Because we've got it all here.
Can you talk about the conflict within Monroe and what you like about his struggle to contain his aggression and what he's capable of?
Silas Weir Mitchell: Yeah, I mean capable of extreme violence, first of all. And keeping it under wraps is you know - I mean look, it's a universal struggle you know? And that way Monroe is no different than anybody else.