Grimm’s geekiest guest stars

Feature Louisa Mellor 24 Feb 2014 - 07:00

From Amy Acker to James Frain, we celebrate Grimm’s habit of filling its supporting cast with geek favourites…

Read our look-back at the careers of Grimm co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, here

When Grimm’s makers were looking for their Nick Burkhardt, the job was to cast someone with all the requirements of a leading man, but none of the distracting ‘wasn’t he in that other thing?’ baggage. In David Giuntoli, whose TV appearances had until then largely been confined to one-off roles in comedies and dramas including Grey’s Anatomy and Ghost Whisperer (the latter produced, not at all coincidentally, by Grimm co-creator Jim Kouf), they found their guy.

With Giuntoli in place, and a solid cast of regulars around him including Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz, Russell Hornsby, Reggie Lee and Claire Coffee, it was time to fill in the guest roles. More often than not, these folk were playing Grimm’s monsters-of-the-week, and, unrecognisably altered in CGI Wesen form, could bring with them all the TV baggage they liked. The guest roles were an opportunity for creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf to dip into their previous projects and hand-select a raft of Angel, Buffy, and Ghost Whisperer alumni to bring their special something to the show.

Join us as we celebrate ten of Grimm’s geekiest guests stars to date…

Amy Acker

Amy Acker is by no means the only Angel graduate to have graced the set of Grimm, but as the actress behind Winifred Burkle and later goddess Illyria, Acker is one of the most recognisable. Since Angel, Acker’s been a loyal member of Team Whedon, appearing in the Buffy creator’s feature Cabin In The Woods, series Dollhouse, and recently taking the lead in Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing.

In non-Whedon work, Acker has made appearances in Alias, Once Upon A Time (from Buffy writer Jane Espenson) and now has a regular part on the highly recommended Person Of Interest.

Her role in Grimm’s Tarentella saw Acker play a Spinnetod (whose vomit and suck murder method merited a place on our list of Grimm’s most disgusting Wesen). Acker managed to bring pathos to the role of Len, a young mother and spider-like creature horrified by her compulsion to kill and ingest young men to stop her from ageing at a rate of knots.

Reg E. Cathey

Between James Frain and Reg E. Cathey, Grimm’s second season two-parter did not lack for talented guest stars. As Baron Samedi, a Cracher Mortel Puffa-Fish-style Wesen with a side line in Voodoo zombie-raising, Cathey brought style, danger, and some really disgusting expectorate to the world of Grimm.

Fans of The Wire will know Cathey as former Baltimore Sun journalist and political campaign manager, Norman Wilson, the increasingly disillusioned right-hand man to Aidan Gillen’s Tommy Carcetti in seasons four and five. His geek heritage though, runs all the way back to a season six episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Aquiel, in which he donned the bumpy forehead to play Klingon commander, Morag. Following that, Cathey appeared in features Tank Girl and The Mask, before making his name in The Wire and superlative prison drama, Oz.

Grimm fans will always remember Cathey for his dapper style and laid-back evil as Baron Samedi though, may the fiend rest in peace.

Alexis Denisof

Warning: contains season three plot info.

Following in Amy Acker’s footsteps is Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel’s Alexis Denisof, the actor behind Watcher-turned-Rogue-Demon-Hunter-turned-brains-of-Angel-Investigations, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce.

After working with Greenwalt and Kouf on Angel, Denisof joined Grimm’s third season in the returning role of dastardly Royal, Prince Viktor Albert Wilhelm George Beckendorf. A cousin to Sean and Eric Renard, Prince Victor arrived in Vienna in season three with a keen interest in Adalind’s baby.

Between Angel and Grimm, Denisof has appeared in a number of geek favourites, including the aforementioned Much Ado About Nothing, sitcom How I Met Your Mother (in which his partner, Alyson Hannigan stars) and a heavily disguised role as The Other in 2012 smash-hit The Avengers. Like Acker, he followed Joss Whedon from the series that made his name to Dollhouse, a series that, well, not so much.

Grimm fans can look forward to finding out the fate of this royal newcomer as season three continues.

Patrick Fischler

A one-time appearance from Patrick Fischler in season one’s Lonelyhearts introduced Grimm’s audience to the goat-like, toad-eating Ziegevolk Wesen, later encountered in season two’s One Angry Fuchsbau. Fischler played Billy Capra, a Wesen who used his pheromonal ability to entrance and imprison women at his B&B.

If Fischler looked familiar to you, then it may have been as bookstore owner Ted in Angel’s ongoing season four Jasmine storyline. If not that then appearances in Charmed, Lost, Star Trek: Enterprise, Pushing Daisies, Southland and The West Wing have turned Fischler into an actor with ‘one of those faces’. Most memorably, Fischler played the recurring role of stand-up comedian Jimmy Barret in Mad Men's second season.

James Frain

Often to be seen stamping his leather boots, shaking his curly locks, and swishing his cape in period dramas (The Tudors and The White Queen have both enjoyed his company), James Frain’s geekiest role prior to his turn as evil Eric Renard in Grimm has to be that of True Blood vamp Franklin Mott.

Frain joined Alan Ball’s True Blood in season three as distinctly unhinged undercover henchman Mott, and proceeded to leave havoc in his wake. Kidnapping folk, being psychotically obsessive, and generally causing trouble for Tara, Mott was the kind of vampire your mother warns you about getting involved with.

It was good preparation for Frain’s role as Sean Renard’s villainous half-brother in Grimm. Eric Renard is similarly unpredictable, and just as dangerous, aligning with Adalind and doing everything in his power to recover Nick’s ancestral key.

Going further back, Frain could be seen in David S. Goyer’s short-lived sci-fi series, FlashForward, as well as Invasion, 24, a couple of episodes of Fringe and Tron: Legacy. Not a bad geek resume, that.

Jaime Ray Newman

Hand up if you were a fan of Angelina Lasser, Monroe’s biker ex-girlfriend from season one’s The Three Bad Wolves and season two’s Over My Dead Body? Troubled Angelina was played by Jaime Ray Newman, a regular in Syfy’s Eureka, Grimm co-creator David Greenwalt’s old producing ground. More geek show supporting roles on Newman’s CV came in the likes of Veronica Mars and Supernatural, while she would also play one of the magical trio leading ABC’s short-lived witch drama, Eastwick.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

If you’re a Grimm fan who grew up in the late eighties/early nineties, every time Kelly Burkhardt appears on screen, you may start hearing the voice of Bryan Adams. Specifically, you’ll hear the husky sound of cheesy wedding-reception stalwart (Everything I Do), I Do It For You. The reason for our Pavlovian association between Mama Burkhart and that song is Mastrantonio’s role as Maid Marion in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves alongside Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman.

Before that though, geeks may have seen Mastrantonio as Dr Lindsay Brigman in James Cameron’s 1989 sci-fi The Abyss, and before that, as Gina Montana in Brian de Palma’s Scarface. Mastrantonio may not have been the most prolific actress of her generation, but she has made some sound choices over the years. We look forward to her future appearances in Grimm.

Mark Pellegrino

He may have only appeared in one episode of Grimm, season two’s Bad Moon Rising, but no round-up of geek-bait actors could ignore Mark Pellegrino. In Grimm, Pellegrino played an old friend of Hank’s and the Coyotl father of a missing teenage girl who sought to protect her from a barbaric rite of passage traditional in his Wesen family.

Supernatural viewers will be familiar with Pellegrino for his role as fallen archangel Satan, whose season seven plan to cleanse the Earth of God’s flawed creation – mankind – was thwarted by the Winchesters (good thing too, otherwise seasons eight, nine or the recently announced ten would have been somewhat underpopulated).

Before then, Pellegrino made his presence felt in Dexter, Chuck, Lost, and just about every other show you’ll find covered by Den of Geek. Recent years have seen him welcomed to the likes of Being Human (USA), Revolution, and The Tomorrow People. If a geek TV show needs a character actor, then Pellegrino is their man.

Brian Tee

A guest star on numerous network dramas, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer (in which he played a hospital colleague of season five’s Ben/Glory) to Monk, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy and more recently, Beauty And The Beast, Brian Tee is a familiar face on the small screen. He came to Grimm at the end of season one as Akira Kimura, a Schakal assassin in pursuit of the Coins of Zakynthos, who eventually fell afoul of the Royal Family.

It’s feature films though, particularly the action variety, for which Tee is most recognised. He played D.K in Fast And Furious: Tokyo Drift, as well as The Wolverine’s Noboro.

Jessica Tuck

It’s not only the actress behind Nick Burkhardt’s mother in Grimm who boasts a trail of interesting roles, but Adalind Schade’s too. Jessica Tuck played Catherine Schade in Grimm’s second season, a Hexenbiest who shared her daughter’s tangled history with royal Sean Renard.

True Blood viewers will know Tuck for her major season four role as vamp activist, Nan Flanagan. Tuck has also racked up roles in Chris Carter’s Millennium, The Outer Limits, Castle, Bones, and, like her Grimm co-stars David Giuntoli and James Frain, Ghost Whisperer and FlashForward, respectively.

Honourable mentions: It can’t be ignored that many of Grimm’s regulars have been part of on-screen geek outings. Sasha Roiz (Captain Renard) played Sam Adama in Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica. Both Silas Weir Mitchell and Reggie Lee (Monroe and Sgt. Wu, respectively) were regulars in Prison Break, with Mitchell also appearing in a 1997 episode of the David Greenwalt-produced The X-Files. Reggie Lee was in 2009 feature Star Trek, as well as blockbuster franchise Pirates Of The Caribbean, while Russell Hornsby (Hank Griffin) was part of Haunted.

Grimm season 3 airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on WATCH in the UK (Sky TV 109 & Virgin TV 124).

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