Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Exceptional People: Silas Weir Mitchell

I don't know what the secret to longevity as an actor is. It's more than talent and beauty. Maybe it's the audience seeing itself in you.
--Joan Blondell 

If you've watched a television program in the last decade, you're bound to have seen Silas Weir Mitchell playing any one of the dozens of characters he's created.  The celebrated character actor is often described as playing, "offbeat," "quirky," or "unstable" characters.  yes, certainly, when one examines the actor's filmography, it's easy to see that he specializes in playing "outsider" types.  However, what's no immediately apparent is that Mitchell makes these "others" into wholly relatable, sympathetic and motivated characters which are often quite likable.

With David Giuntoli on "Grimm."
NBC Universal

I'm not going to list Mr. Mitchell's many credits.  That information can be found anywhere else online.  Here, however, I'd like to focus on the man's talent as that's his greatest contribution to our collective humanities.  In order to do that, let's examine Mr. Mitchell's current starring role in NBC's Grimm.   Now in its second year, the program stars David Giuntoli as a Portland detective, Nick, who also happens to be descended from the famed Brothers Grimm who, when not chronicling the stories of mythological creatures, spent a great deal of time fighting them into submission, it seems.  When Nick learns of his heritage and becomes aware that as the "heir" to the Grimm title, he must face all manner of wicked creatures, he happens upon a "blutbad" (essentially a werewolf) called Monroe.  With Monroe's help, Nick is prepared to carry on the family tradition.

Mitchell's performance as "Monroe" is an excellent example of what sets this actor apart.  While many might play Monroe as simply a werewolf who's trying to be "good," Mitchell, at once, gives the character a richness and depth.  Monroe, in Mitchell's care, is sympathetic, a Renaissance man with refined tastes which belie his primal nature.  This is the mark of a true character actor--one who can play an untraditional role and still make that character relatable and likable.  It's a feat few actors can competently accomplish.  

When not blutbad-ing, the Pennsylvania-native maintains his interest in his first love, theatre, and spends time with his doberman.  The actor, beyond the onscreen traditions of his fictional blutbad ancestors, knows quite a bit about the importance of family lineage.  He is named for the Nineteenth Century author and physician, Silas Weir Mitchell.


Darcy said...

Another good choice. Silas Weir Mitchell does a great job with what might otherwise be an unbelievable character.

Dashwood said...

I hadn't known of of Mr. Mitchell before Grimm - or rather didn't realize I was. But this article made me recall other of his performances. What's interesting about his is that he so much becomes his characters that each is separate and distinct from the others. That really speaks to his competence and talent. Very cool.

Ben said...

Always loved his work.