As Monroe the clockmaker on Grimm, Silas Weir Mitchell provides both offbeat humor and serves as the Blutbad guide to the supernatural Wesen world that newly awakened Grimm and detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) infiltrates during his homicide investigations. With the second season of Grimm just begun and the first season out on video, Mitchell chatted with The Aquarian about what makes Monroe tick (pun intended).
Monroe is this reformed Blutbad with a dark past who is having a personal awakening. Do you think the writers are using him as a metaphor?
I think the whole show is metaphorical. The Wesen are metaphors for human tendencies in a lot of ways. There are mousey people who are conflict averse and don’t want to ruffle any feathers. In one episode coming up, there are some people who have a herd mentality and are sheeplike, and then there are people who are always on the make and looking to take somebody. They would be like the snaky people, sort of a shady warrior type. Along with the fairytale elements which are always seasoned in there, the creatures are psychological metaphors in a lot of ways.
What can you tell us about the second season regarding Monroe and what you would like to see happen with him?
I just think getting more involved. Committing to this thing is where it’s at because there’s still a lot of danger 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 also 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 who lives alone.
While an undergrad at Brown University, you studied theatre arts and religious studies. Why did you pick that double major and have any of the religious studies applied to Grimm?
Definitely. I wound up as a religious studies major because in high school I took a lot of religion courses that were offered. They were interesting, and the teachers were cool. I started reading [Carl] Jung in high school, and I turned around after my sophomore year of college and looked at the pattern of what I’d taken. I could do philosophy or psychology or religion. I picked religion because philosophy is too dogmatic and gets rigid because you have to define every philosopher in particular terms. I didn’t take psychology because I didn’t want to take any math courses. Religion and religious studies fit acting because they have a lot to do with what makes people tick, and I wound up studying Jung and Freud in a kind of East versus West thing. It absolutely impacts the way I see the world and the way I work.
What are your favorite moments in the first season of Grimm and why?
I think the moment where we got picked up for a second season was pretty great. I think Monroe’s introduction when he jumped out the window in the pilot, then invited Nick in for a beer, was fun. That set the tone for their dynamic. I liked the cage fighting episode. The location was cool. We were in this huge barn, and I liked the director. We worked together on Prison Break. The writers push the characters into places that they don’t necessarily want to be. I didn’t want to be there. Another episode I thought was really good was the one with the Seigbartse, the Ogre one. I also really like [the character of] Rosalee. I think Bree [Turner]’s really good to work with. When they’re casting a love interest, you never know what you’re going to get. The casting for her was just so great because she’s fun to be around and a good person.
FEROCIOUS FISH — Some classic movies do not hold up well in the high definition format, but they were never meant to be seen that way. But some survive the ravages of cinematic time. 40 years after the massive shark in Jaws scared part of a generation out of the ocean, the mechanical creature that caused such a stir looks pretty good on Blu-ray. At times he even passes for the real thing (excluding live underwater footage). Part of what makes this aquatic terror tale remain effective is the fact that the deadly great white that stalks humans off the coast of Amity Island is not actually seen until past the halfway point of the film, with POV shots and John Williams’ tense score allowing our imaginations to run wild. The characters are also compelling, including Amity’s beleaguered sheriff (Roy Scheider), a passionate shark expert (Richard Dreyfuss) and a seasoned fisherman/war veteran (Robert Shaw) who all go hunting for the film’s water-bound villain and squabble along the way. This early directorial effort from Steven Spielberg is credited as giving birth to the summer blockbuster, of which he has made a steady stream ever since.
GRIM LANDSCAPES — Horror and fantasy, sometimes intertwined, are experiencing a rebirth on television these past few years. The Walking Dead has certainly proven to be a monster hit for AMC, and while the Second Season went through its rough patches with fans, the show continues to strike a balance between character development and brain munching. There’s even a surprise death by the end of the season. You can snap this one up in a regular package or a special edition that comes packaged in a zombie head with a screwdriver stuck through one eye. Classy. On the major network front, there is NBC’s Grimm (referenced above) and ABC’s lavish Once Upon A Time, the First Season of which is available now. The concept of a town inhabited by fairy tale characters that have been struck by amnesia via a twisted curse, and the mother and her young boy who seek to free them from their mundane, muted existence, has many fantasy fans hooked. My favorite reason to watch is the deliciously Evil Queen played with gusto by Lana Parrilla, an alumni of Swingtown and Boomtown.
TEN-MINUTE WARNING: STEVE NILES’ REMAINS
Here’s a new feature I’m introducing to Queued Up where I discuss a movie that I couldn’t actually get more than 10 to 15 minutes through. Sometimes you want a movie to be good…and it fails. Hopefully I will save your valuable time. Our inaugural entry? Steve Niles’ Remains, a zombie apocalypse movie set in a casino in Reno, Nevada after a detonated “peace bomb” meant to neuter nuclear weapons turns people into flesh eaters. Four average people—a card dealer, a barmaid, a half-assed magician and a shady guy who seems like a car salesman—try to survive, see if anyone else made it and hope they don’t betray one another. This Chiller original movie looks low budget, has unmemorable dialogue and made me not care pretty fast about whether the characters survived. I love a lot of Steve Niles’ coming book writing and enjoyed 30 Days Of Night the movie, but not this. He gets redeemed because he only serves as executive producer of this bland adaptation of his work.