Amy Acker Embraces Playing Grimm's Alluring Black Widow
Amy Acker, known for portraying a sweet egghead who was enslaved on Joss Whedon's vampire-detective series Angel, won't be playing the victim on Friday's Grimm (9/8c, NBC).
In "Tarantella," Acker plays Lena, an alluring woman who happens to be a deadly black widow-type of creature, or in Grimm-speak, a Spinnetod. "It's a spider-creature who, in order to survive, has to sacrifice or eat three men every five years," the actress tells TVGuide.com.
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Working on Grimm reunited Acker with Angel executive producer David Greenwalt. "I was excited that he was back doing something else again," she says. "And I just loved the whole concept of the fairy tales, the Grimm tales and detectives. It was something that when we were looking at all the new shows, I was like, 'I want to watch that one.' I was excited for this role because it seemed like it was going to be just a real challenge and it was going to be something that I definitely hadn't done before."
Read more about Acker's conflicted character, the makeup involved and reuniting with Whedon for Much Ado About Nothing and The Cabin in the Woods:
What can you tell us about Lena and her need to kill men?
Amy Acker: That was what was interesting about playing this part is that you really, you kind of struggle with her as to what the right thing for her to do is. She's doing the wrong thing, but at the same time, it's kind of like, there's not another choice.
She's not like Monroe, the Blutbad, who can become a vegetarian and still survive. Can't they develop a dietary substitute for Spinnetods, like the blood substitute that was developed for vampires on True Blood?
Acker: Exactly. I feel like they need like a doctor who can help them solve all these people's problems. Maybe they should bring my character back to help solve this problem.
Check out this video of another Spinnetod explaining her cursed existence:
Were there discussions about how she chose her victims, so that at least she chose bad people, as the serial killer does in Dexter?
Acker: There weren't, but it seemed to me like she chose people that, she felt like maybe there was something about them that made it easier to do what she had to do.
What did you think about Lena's different disguises — like that great fedora — that she used to pick up men?
Acker: That was what I called David Greenwalt about first: Is this just her, and she's in disguise? Or does she have to become someone else in order to do what she needs to do? He was like, "I think it's somewhere in the middle." He would kind of let me play around with it, so I kind of took the idea that it's not like she's a totally different person, but it was easier to do what she needed to do when she wasn't seeing herself doing it... Who knew a hat could be so important?
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Can you describe the practical makeup effects you had to deal with to play the Spinnetod?
Acker: It was interesting because I've done lots of shows with really big makeup effects, but I've always been the one watching the people getting it on while I'm done. I don't know that I had enough sympathy for the people; it's a long process. I would say I was in the chair between two and three hours. It's not as easy as it looks, but it was really fun to see how they pull this piece of, whatever it's made of, from a piece of plaster on your face and watching it transform over two hours. It's amazing how talented the people are.
How did it feel to have all that makeup on you?
Acker: The weirdest part of the spider makeup was actually the arm pieces. They were saying that usually when people have hands that they're kind of big gloves, and these were skintight. So I was like, "Is it normal not to have circulation in your hands?" And they're like, "We'll loosen that a little bit." But it looked so cool, and once you put it on, you're like, "OK, this is who the character is." It was fun because I was sending text messages home to my husband and kids. He's like, "You realize its bedtime and you're totally terrifying our children."
Check out this promo that reveals Acker in her full Spinnetod glory:
We see from the promo that there a few action scenes, like when Lena climbs up a pole. How many of these scenes did you do yourself?
Acker: I got to do a good amount of the fighting here, but because of all of the makeup, there were some scenes that I was like, "You know, I think since I can't see or hold on, I'll let the professional do it."
Your career got a kick start by working with Joss Whedon on Angel, and you got back together with him for the upcoming film The Cabin in the Woods. What can you tell us about your character?
Acker: I don't know that I can tell you much about it. Everything I do is like a secret, I guess. But I did see it this weekend for the first time, and I loved it. I didn't really know what to expect, and I was in it. It's so original and different. They did a great job. I was scared. There was some screaming.
You also worked on Whedon's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. How was it working with other stars from the Whedon universe, like Nathan Fillion and Alexis Denisof?
Acker: There was pretty much all of the favorite people there. It was nice. It was just like hanging out with a lot of old friends. I play Beatrice, and unfortunately Beatrice and [Fillion's character] Dogberry don't have one scene together, but I got to see him in passing, but Alexis Denisof was Benedick, so that was a mini-Angel reunion.
The sci-fi and fantasy fandom has embraced you. Do you enjoy watching those genres?
Acker: I do. I watch Grimm and Once Upon a Time. I like both of those shows, and we watch True Blood. Those are the shows for me that are fun to watch, because I like that part of escapism, and I think the acting is really fun to watch, and those are the characters I like to play.
It sounds like you might have trouble watching horror movies though, judging by your reaction to The Cabin in the Woods...
Acker: I'm sort of a wimp, but I'm getting better. I'm trying to like them. I feel like all of my friends and people keep being in them, so I keep having to watch them.
You've done Grimm and will also make a guest appearance on Once Upon a Time later this month. Do you enjoy fairy tales? Does one stand out for you from childhood?
Acker: I made all my brothers and sisters do The Little Mermaid. I was directing. My sister, Rachel, was the Little Mermaid, and my sister, Shelly, is still mad at me because I made her be Ursula. She still holds that over my head. I was playing Sebastian and every other part.
Grimm airs on Fridays at 9/8c on NBC.