“Grimm” star David Giuntoli credits his time in Chicago with pushing him out of the woods and into the acting business.
“I was kind of lost and I found myself largely in Chicago,” the 31-year-old who grew up in St. Louis told me last week.
In “Grimm,” Giuntoli’s back in the woods, so to speak, playing Portland Det. Nick Burkhardt, a cop who learns that he’s descended from the Grimms, a family of slayers along the line of Buffy Summers. Instead of slaying vampires, the Grimms battle demons, witches, big bad wolves or any other supernatural being from the Grimm fairytales. Nick has the ability to see these creatures despite their human disguises.
After years of one-off roles in everything from “Veronica Mars” to “Hot in Cleveland” and a recurring part in the short-lived “Privileged” in 2008, Giuntoli scored his biggest role to date as the lead of the NBC drama that airs at 8 p.m. Fridays. It’s a daunting responsibility that he seems to be handling well.
“Let’s just say I’m aging like triple-time now in this series. I’m aging like a wartime president. It’s ridiculous,” he joked, adding later that he’s become much more comfortable both playing his character and as the lead of the show. “It’s so much fun.”
Giuntoli’s road to Hollywood started while spending his college summers living with his sister in Lincoln Park (above Sedgwick’s). After earning degrees in international business and finance from Indiana University Bloomington, he lived in Lakeview for almost two years, hanging out on the lakefront, seeing theatrical productions and improv shows at iO and Second City, and frequenting bars such as Stanley’s, Sedgwick’s and Brian Boru’s.
“I’m a dive bar kind of guy,” he said, which isn’t a slam. “I love them.”
Needless to say, he didn’t have a job while living at Wellington and Broadway in Lakeview. After having appeared on MTV’s “Road Rules: South Pacific,” he “was living off of reality TV money, which was wild,” he said. “A lot of people have been asking if [‘Road Rules’] was my kind of springboard into the business. I don’t want to downplay it but I certainly don’t want to say it was my springboard, you know? My springboard had to do with distancing myself from that and putting it in my past and kind of taking another course.”
That course was theater, which he was turned on to late in college by a girlfriend at the time. He got involved in small productions at school and decided, “Wow, this world is where my people are.”
“The culture of theater in Chicago and the culture of improv in Chicago completely reinforced that,” he said. “I saw people doing that for a living … and that absolutely reinforced it.”
Now the only demons he’s chasing are from fairy tales.