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It’s been five years since the creatures that went bump in the night started to bump in broad daylight on NBC’s Grimm.
That’s five years of Det. Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) fighting the good fight as a Grimm, a monster hunter descended from the line of the Brothers Grimm. That’s five years of the monsters, aka Wesen, showing their true beastly natures under their human faces. And that’s five years of tongue-twisting German-ish phrases rolling off the characters’ tongues.
On Friday night, the fantasy cop drama airs its landmark 100th episode, but before fans go “Into the Schwarzwald,” co-creators Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt spoke to The Hollywood Reporter all about Nick’s wild ride thus far.
Go West, Young Grimm
The producers were always intent on setting and shooting the series in Portland. “The stories are all German-based — Grimm Brothers, Black Forest — and we wanted to have the same feeling as the Black Forest in all the stories,” Kouf tells THR. “There are very few places in the United States that actually provide that — and a crew. Portland was at the top of the list. So we wrote it for Portland hoping that NBC would agree to it, and they did immediately.”
The added benefit, of course, is the city’s fierce championing of all things weird, from its vibrant art scene to its unique residents. Grimm‘s Wesen blended right in.
A Grimm Is Born
The producers saw upwards of 50 or 60 actors before settling on Giuntoli, who first got his big break on MTV’s Road Rules: South Pacific and Real World/Road Rules Challenge before appearing in a string of guest roles, including a gig on Hot in Cleveland, where he met soon-to-be Grimm producer Todd Milliner.
“Todd Milliner had actually suggested David,” Greenwalt says. “The hardest person to find, when you’re casting a television series, is somebody in their late 20s who has enormous appeal because a lot of the times those people are movie stars by then. There was something about him that was young and naive, which was really good [to have], to be thrust into that Grimm world and yet he also had this incredible sense of decency underneath all of that.”
The Grimm Gang’s All Here
Nick’s group of supporters began with his fellow Portland PD officers: Partner Hank Griffin, played by Russell Hornsby, whom Kouf says brought “street cred” to the role as the older, wiser detective; Officer Drew Wu, a role tailor-made for Reggie Lee after he impressed in his initial audition to play Hank; and Sean Renard, a sexier take on the usual grizzled police captain thanks to Sasha Roiz, whose audition inspired the producers to change their original character concept.
Meanwhile, Nick needed a best friend, or make that a “beast” friend. Enter Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, a quirky clockmaker who’s also a vegetarian Blutbad (wolf Wesen) and Nick’s go-to for arcane knowledge. Greenwalt says that Mitchell “knows something about everything” and inspires much of Monroe’s hilarious and informed chatter. As for Monroe’s better half Rosalee (Bree Turner), Greenwalt says, “We created the Spice Shop, and the network loved the Spice Shop set, so they wanted us to keep it going, but we had already killed off the [shopkeeper] character. So we brought in his sister Rosalee. We started with this attraction between Rosalee and Monroe right from the first time that he lays eyes on her.”
Finally in season five, a new group called Hadrian’s Wall comprised the series’ newest additions. Greenwalt explains that Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni) joined when “there was talk of spinning off the show. We went looking for a young, female Grimm who was really tough and could really kick ass and take names.” The usual casting call was unsuccessful, but Kouf stumbled upon Toboni at the University of Michigan. Producers hired Damien Puckler for a small German-speaking role but then created the role of Martin Meisner, a member of the Resistance, for him.
Two Girls and a Grimm
The show has made some bold moves (read: beheading Nick’s mom) over the years, but none more so than messing with Nick’s love life. Although Bitsie Tulloch started out as his sweet, veterinarian girlfriend Juliette, the producers wanted to take advantage of the actress’ “quite remarkable range” and put Juliette through the wringer: giving her amnesia, turning her into a deranged Hexenbiest (witch Wesen) and finally killing her off. Or so we thought.
Apparently, Hadrian’s Wall resurrected her to become Eve, someone who can control the Hexenbiest powers without all the craziness. “Now she’s playing a kind of femme fatale, a killing machine almost,” Greenwalt says. “There is a seed of Juliette in there somewhere, but Eve is really an entirely new and different and unique character.”
On the flip side, Claire Coffee, who first read for the role of Juliette, started out in a bit part that was expanded to become Nick’s nemesis: Hexenbiest lawyer Adalind Schade. Fast-forward through losing her powers, concocting potions, sleeping with Nick while wearing Juliette’s appearance and two babies later, and now a kinder, gentler Adalind is co-parenting with Nick. “It’s a wonderful arc from the most dastardly character to kind of a beloved one,” Greenwalt says. “Having children did change her. It was a metaphor for growing up and what you have to sacrifice when you have a child.”
A Wesen by Any Other Name …
Grimm has featured more than 80 different Wesen to date, ranging from meek and fuzzy beavers (Eisbiber) to the horrifying anti-Santa known as Krampus. The show’s lexicon is a multilingual one filled with Spanish, Old English, Latin and of course German comprising the most common Wesen names. Kouf is proudest of the the word ‘Blutbad.’ “That was the first,” he says. “‘Blutbad‘ was the description of what the Blutbaden [plural] thought of themselves, ‘bloodbath.'”
Through the Wesen, the series has addressed issues like race and intolerance, but has also taken time for a bit of levity. Greenwalt points to the “cowardly slug” informant, the Hasenfussige Schnecke. “He’s based on the blob fish,” he says. “He is the most hideous Wesen and has a certain odor to him so that when he woges (morphs), all the other Wesen couldn’t stand to be around him and certainly couldn’t stand to look at him in the giant, bulging, glistening eyes.”
Grimm‘s 100th episode airs Friday at 9 p.m. on NBC.
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