When Grimm returns Friday for its Season 6 swan song, actor David Giuntoli, who portrays the titular monster-fighter Nick Burkhardt, warns fans that this fairy tale likely won’t have a happy ending.
“It is a dark season, starting with the fact that our boss/former ally is now our biggest threat. Things are looking grim, pun intended, for the Scooby gang, and I am actually cool with that,” Giuntoli told Yahoo TV in an exclusive phone interview late last year, just before the cast and crew began filming the last three episodes. “Nick isn’t promised a happy ending, and I am not sure he will get one, which I am fine with. The original Grimm tales were usually pretty dark and brutal, so it is fitting.”
Because he had not yet read the script for the finale, Giuntoli wasn’t sure if his character, or other members of the close-knit cast, would make it out alive and in one piece. He even admitted that he was cool with his own crime- and creature-fighting cop being taken out. “Although I guess that means I am out of a reunion if Netflix does one in 20 years,” he joked. “Or does it? Bitsie [Tulloch, who plays Juliette/Eve] came back from the dead.”
He also gave us a preview of where the season starts, and chatted about the mysterious and powerful healing stick he and Monroe found in Germany; Renard going full villain; his love triangle (which will grow even more complicated); and just how bummed he is to be leaving Portland and his onscreen squad.
Yahoo TV: The end is near.
David Giuntoli: I know. It is not going to be fun. I kind of figured this was going to be how it would go down for Grimm. We had a six-season contract, and we ended up doing six years. And NBC was wonderful in letting us know in advance that the sixth season would be our last. It was the Portland, Ore., death-with-dignity, hospice-care version, as opposed to just pulling the plug right out from underneath you.
Did knowing that affect the filming of the last season?
It was sad, obviously, but it did imbue us with a new energy to work hard and give fans a great last season. And a renewed appreciation for everything we have gotten to make together and for the six seasons we did have. We are getting ready to film the last two episodes, and I am sure the last day will be the really tough one. They have become my family, and Portland has become a home.
Because you knew in advance and got to have a final season, do you think Grimm fans will have all their remaining questions answered and be happy with where it all ends?
No. [Laughs] But I haven’t read the last episode yet, to be fair. They have been keeping that under wraps. But it is impossible. I think fans are going to love this season, but it will not be a completely neatly tied-up bow. There will certainly be aspects of the show and the season that will be wrapped up and answered. The tension will be released, and that will be satisfying for viewers. It was satisfying as an actor. I remember when The Sopranos ended and people were up in arms, but I will say that I liked the way that ended.
Was there anything going into this season that you hoped would happen to any of the characters? Maybe a particular monster, or to shoot a particular type of scene, a musical episode, or maybe something as simple as hoping that Nick and Juliette finally get their happy ending. Oh, wait, that’s my hope!
Ha! Not sure you are gonna get that happy ending after everything that has happened. But maybe. I did not have any expectations. All I wanted was to go out with a definitive bang. Having read the penultimate episode, I can say that is happening. I wanted people to die, if I am being honest, and I think people are dying. I would have been cool to die, and maybe I will die in the finale. I just wanted a bang. I wanted it to be big and exciting and satisfying, and I have no doubt we will accomplish those goals.
What is Nick’s thematic storyline this season?
He was reluctant at first about his destiny. He was terrified about learning what he was, and he didn’t want this to be the case. His aunt and mom warned him that it would suck, and everyone he loves would be imperiled, but he realizes now that he alone can fight certain things. He has become resigned to that, and he is stepping into his destiny. Unfortunately, I think that means having it all is not in the cards for him.
Where do things start this season?
We start in exactly the same moment we left off. Nick and Renard are in a standoff, with bodies of Black Claw all around them, including Bonaparte, who Renard killed because Diana made him do it. Renard has the power at the moment. The entire Scooby gang, including Eve and all of the babies, are absolutely screwed. Most of them are in the sewer tunnels, hoping to make it out alive. Nick is on the run, because he has been set up. We go into hiding. The tunnels serve as our safe zone, because it is the only part of the city Renard doesn’t know about. We are living like mole people for a little while. We are like those fish born in a cave that don’t even bother to develop eyes.
Surprisingly, Renard develops into the big bad, for the first few episodes at least. I thought he might back down with Bonaparte dead, because he was railroaded into running for mayor, but he seems to really embrace the dark side.
Yeah, I think that is a really cool story choice. We never fully trusted him anyway, and now our fears are confirmed. I think it is something that Sasha as an actor can pull off, and it is something he has wanted to do for a while now. I think he really wanted to let his evil half run free. I think the producers and writers thought that would be a fun path to take. I think Renard has finally chosen to go with hubris, ego, and power. He is drunk with power. He is now our big bad.
You also make your directorial debut this season on the third episode.
Biggest NBC mistake since Cop Rock. P.S. — I don’t know if Cop Rock was on NBC, so you should fact-check my joke. [Editor’s note: His joke was funny, albeit wrong. The musical police drama was on ABC.]
Has this always been a career goal?
Malcolm Gladwell has put out there that whole 10,000 hours theory. I have spent 10,000 on sets, and somewhere along the way, around hour 4,000, I went, “Wait, what’s going on here behind the scenes?”
And I started putting a lot of my energy and a lot of my downtime watching directors prep scenes and dissecting the choices they made and talking to them about how it all works. I’d stick around to watch scenes I wasn’t in, and eventually, a year or so ago, I put out feelers. I told the producers and NBC that this was something that I was interested in pursuing. I felt no entitlement about it. It is hard to trust a rookie director with anything, so I would have understood if it didn’t happen.
But I found out late last year that they were going to let me direct an episode this year, and I was so excited, absolutely giddy. It was the best time I have ever had on a set in my career. I really believe that. I still don’t understand all of the technicalities, so I let the crew people do what they do best. And they were such a giant help. It was very humbling. People had my back. It was such a wonderful time in my career. It took a week for the adrenaline to clear out of my body. I owe all of my bosses major gratitude.
Was it weird to boss your castmates around?
One of the awkward things is that you are suddenly telling your peers what to do, and many of them are far more learned than I am in terms of acting — and maybe ever will be. And now I am in a situation where I am supposed to give them notes on their performance, and that made me so nervous. But every one of them came up to me and basically said, “Just tell us how to get there and what you want. Throw away that whole thing about ever ‘telling an actor how to act’ thing.” That defused what was an awkward moment for me. I was a nervous wreck the night before. No sleep.
The stick has now healed you and Monroe and maybe Eve, although the jury is still out on what exactly it did to her. Nick seems to go a little Lord of the Rings my precious about it, after it saves his life.
The way I have played it throughout the season has been another one of Nick’s secrets. He feels for the first time really out of control. It is like a guy who is quietly addicted to some drug and he isn’t telling anyone or asking for help. He is scared of it, but he needs it. He hates that it is in his world and that he is drawn to it, but he needs it. He doesn’t like what it represents. I’m a cop. I like order. I want control. This stick and its power and everything it unlocks throughout the season represents absolute overwhelming chaos for Nick.
His love life has always been chaos as well. Fans are divided into pro-Juliette and pro-Adalind camps. Do you have a preference for whom he should end up with?
My answer from my character’s standpoint is that Nick wants to be with whatever woman wants to kill him the least. Both of these women have attempted to take his life on more than one occasion. Nick is a Grimm. That is a noun and an adjective in his life. Of course, he has love for Eve, especially as she starts to even out and be a little more human again because of the stick. But he also has a son now. Nick’s greatest motivation is not romantic anymore. It is family. I think he wants to keep Kelly safe above all else. But he has love for all three of them now.
We started to see what Diana is capable of, and we have been told by the producers to expect more powers and surprises regarding her character. Which always leaves me wondering, Is little Kelly going to develop any powers?
I wish I could tease this better. Kelly is the cutest child on earth. But I don’t know if you have ever worked with babies or dogs, but they don’t care about how much time it is taking to get a shot or if you will make the day. They don’t care about eyelines or marks.
When they are on set, they rule. Everyone is cooing over them and terrified about the any number of things that could happen. We basically shoot around Kelly, so there is not too much with Kelly. But really, this season is the Diana show. Hannah [R. Loyd, who plays Diana] is such a wonderful actress, and I think they are using her as much as possible because of that. We will discover many more of her talents and powers.
I feel like it is one of those things that could be explored if there was more time for the character to age. As the son of a Grimm and a hexenbiest, he can’t be a dud, can he?
Maybe they will explore that in the spinoff 20 years from now. Man, he’s gonna have to refurbish that trailer.
Grimm returns Friday, Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. on NBC.