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Life is anything but grim for actor David Giuntoli

Life is anything but grim for actor David Giuntoli


Killing monsters every week can be exhausting.

In two seasons on “Grimm,” returning Friday night on NBC, “I’ve aged like a two-term president,” star David Giuntoli complains — but he’s not really complaining. Anything but.

Giuntoli, 32, a 1998 graduate of St. Louis University High School, was pretty much an unknown when he was cast as Nick Burkhardt, a Portland, Ore., police detective who learned in the pilot that he was descended from decades of “Grimms” and thus is destined to kill monsters.

“Grimm” became a hit for NBC, which was in desperate need of hits. This fall, before the series took a break, “Grimm” was winning its 8 p.m. Friday time slot with more than 6 million viewers. Renewal for a third season seems inevitable.

In his second year of living and shooting in Portland, “I feel like a veteran — a youthful veteran, highlight on youthful, please,” Giuntoli said at an NBC event in January, after a Q&A session with his castmates and TV critics meeting in Los Angeles.

He says the show, which blends action, romance and fantasy, is a lot of work. “This has been all-consuming, and thank God it’s with people I dig,” he says. “I really do love the cast; it’s special. People probably (say) that all the time, but we love each other, and we love the town.”

“Grimm” has also made Giuntoli a bona fide star.

He says he gets recognized constantly now — even on vacation in Kenya. “I often get told I look like Bradley Cooper or Zach Quinto.”

Other times, people know exactly who he is, and “they freak out because they love the show.”

But Giuntoli says he’s noticed different etiquette in different cities. In Paris, “I could tell I was being recognized, but nobody said anything,” he says. “Oh, I did have some Australians come up to me in Paris.”

Giuntoli has a degree in international business and finance from Indiana University, but his family always thought he’d be a performer because he loved to make people laugh.

He was still thinking of a business career even after he took classes with Joe Schulte, SLUH’s longtime theater teacher, and found that he enjoyed the spotlight.

His first real venture into show biz was on MTV’s reality competition “Road Rules,” which sent him to the South Pacific for three months at age 21. He later returned for a “Real World/Road Rules” challenge.

At age 25, he moved to Los Angeles to study and soon started getting work. He made a few movies, appeared on “Veronica Mars” and had a story arc on “Privileged” before winning the lead on “Grimm.”

“It’s a lottery out here,” he said in an interview at the time. “This town is full of talented people. I’m well aware how incredibly big this is for me.”

Now, he’s enjoying living in Portland, where he bikes to and from the set, even though his girlfriend is still based in LA.

Asked what’s especially fun about the show, he says: “We have this fight rehearsal all the time, and I’ve really come to enjoy it. I have to know stage fighting, because it usually comes down to some sort of fisticuffs. If anybody attacked us, I could stage fight him into oblivion.”

On his last break, he and his girlfriend went to Africa, where they visited an elephant orphanage in Kenya. (“We adopted one!” Giuntoli says.) If he ever finds time to act between “Grimm” seasons, “I’d like to do something very different from Nick, whatever that is.”

That doesn’t diminish his love for “Grimm.”

“I want it to last as long as it’s good,” he says. “I’ll cry whenever it ends.”

What “Grimm” • When 8 p.m. Fridays • Where NBC • More info

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Gail Pennington is the television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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