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Silas Weir Mitchell
ONE of television's
For those who haven't seen the series, which draws inspiration and characters from the Grimm brothers' early 1800s German folk tales, it's a cool mix of sleuthing and supernatural.
One of the unique recurring characters is Monroe, a reformed wolfen creature known as a Wieder Blutbad. He's played by Silas Weir Mitchell.
The show centers around a Portland police detective and his pal Monroe, but creatures from the world of legends walk undetected among humans--until they transform into their inner animals.
By now, the detective, Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), knows that he's a Grimm, a protector of sorts for humanity. He soon realizes that not all the creatures he has a unique talent for spotting are bad. Among them is Monroe, a sidekick of sorts, helping Burkhardt investigate crimes and understand the supernatural creatures most humans are oblivious to.
I got a chance to speak with Mitchell recently by phone from Los Angeles.
The actor, whom many may remember from his role as schizophrenic convict Haywire on Fox's "Prison Break," said he's thrilled to be playing the interesting Monroe.
"He's got inner conflict, disavowing his dark past and his ancestors' dark history. Any time you have that sort of conflict, there's a lot to play with. Conflict is drama," he said.
Unique to this series is the fact that he has two different Monroes to play: the human one and the hirsute Blutbad.
"When he changes, he becomes a different sort of person, enraged versus absolutely at peace," said Mitchell, who had recurring roles on both "24" and "My Name Is Earl."
But Monroe experiences more than just a struggle between an inner-wolf yin and yang. He's a character with what Mitchell describes as a gallows humor that's sometimes goofy.
"With a show this dark and, pardon the pun, grim aspect, you need some levity," said Mitchell.
Much of that comes from his character, who as a Blutbad can rip a guy's arm off, but as a human is striving to focus on civilized pursuits like music
"As we were shooting, the type of humor our writers had in mind fit me very well," said the 6-foot-3-inch Mitchell, who majored in religion and theater at Brown University and also studied at the University of California San Diego.
"It's an organic thing that grows as you go along, me understanding what they had in mind and them seeing that I got what they intended," said Mitchell. "It becomes a fun sort of Ferris wheel that keeps going around, faster and faster, as we understand where the other is coming from."
Even though Monroe and other characters transform frequently from human to animal, Mitchell said he doesn't have to endure the time-consuming makeover.
"I've only done it once," he said, noting that the show uses computer-generated images, stunt doubles and footage from his one transformation to help Monroe get his Blutbad on.
The actor, who after nabbing the TV role remembered being in a grade school "Grimms' Fairy Tales" play, said the schedule for the show is often grueling.
"It takes eight days to finish an episode, working 12- to 14-hour days at times," he said.
Mitchell, who's a big hockey buff, said "Grimm" is the latest chapter in his own dramatic evolution.
"I've known forever, since third grade or so, that I enjoyed acting," he said, noting that he went from plays in high school to drama in college and beyond.
"There was no lightning-bolt moment, but just a slow build to what came next," he said. "I enjoyed acting, never lost my love for it, and eventually they started paying me to do it."
He said that the tone of the series and the relationship between Monroe and Burkhardt has evolved through a combination of what the writers create and the way the actors bring it to life on screen.
For his part, Mitchell says he doesn't over-think the role.
"I don't ask questions about what will happen to Monroe at the end of the season," said Mitchell. "I ask what he's doing right now in the episode we're shooting."
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415