Exclusive: Interview with Richard Gunn of “Hemlock Grove”
The CableTV blog team spoke to Richard Gunn (of “Hemlock Grove” and “Granite Flats”) to learn what we can expect in the final season of “Hemlock Grove.” Richard also fills us in on his “Granite Flats” days; his upcoming film, directed by his wife; a bit about his “Hemlock Grove” character, Aitor Quantic; and his favorite shows to binge watch. Click play to listen to the interview, or read the transcript below.
CTV: How’s your day been so far?
Richard: It’s been great. I’ve been having a great day. I’m up at my cabin in the Lake Arrowhead area.
CTV: Oh, how nice. That’s awesome. And you’re from there, right? You’re from the LA area originally?
CTV: Very cool. I know that you started acting in high school and then you studied theater arts at UC Santa Cruz. I’m curious though–at what point did a passion spark in you for acting? Because I know, initially, it wasn’t something your whole childhood that you had wanted to do necessarily.
Richard: No, not at all. In fact, I had some opportunities when I was a kid, but I was resistant to it. I wasn’t interested.
CTV: So at what point was that–where you kind of felt like maybe this is what I want to do?
Richard: Well, when I took a theater class in high school. It was kind of instantaneous.
CTV: Nice. Were there any actors that you looked up to when you were first starting out?
Richard: Sure. There was Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson and Sam Elliott–people like that.
CTV: Right, right. Well, I know that you have had some time in Utah before. We’re based in Salt Lake, so I have to ask you about that. When you were on Granite Flats, you were based in Utah, right?
Richard: That’s correct, yeah. Yeah, I was in Salt Lake.
CTV: Oh, were you?
Richard: We shot at–yeah, we shot in a studio there–I mean, a sound stage there, and also at Granite High School. Then there was a set in Orem. There was like an old hydroelectric power plant at the base of the canyon there in Orem.
CTV: That’s awesome. How’d you like Utah? Were you able to explore the mountains a little bit?
Richard: Yeah, I loved it. I started [fly fishing]. I really, really enjoyed and it’s–I stuck with it.
CTV: I know that the third and final season’s coming up. It premieres October 23rd. Can you tell us a little bit about the character you’ll be playing?
Richard: I can’t tell you much without giving you spoilers, but the character’s name is Aitor Quantic and he’s a stranger to Hemlock Grove. He comes to Hemlock Grove in kind of an odd way; he’s a very unique individual, a leader that marches to the beat of his own drum and a very likable guy, I think.
CTV: Yeah, I’ve tried to find out as much as I could about him, but everyone’s pretty tight lipped. I understand why. How did you prep for this role? Did you binge watch the other seasons? I mean, it’s a pretty intense show.
Richard: I did see both seasons prior to being offered this role. So I was already a fan of the show. I prepped based on the material I got in the first episode that I got, on what was put forth on that in the writing of the episode, and also based on conversations that I had with the show runner, Chip Eglee.
CTV: For those who haven’t seen it, they might look at some of the previews and stuff and think, “Oh, vampires, werewolves…” but that’s not the total focus. It’s not like Twilight style. It’s pretty complex. There’s lots family drama mixed in, I would say.
Richard: That’s correct. Yeah. There’s a lot of drama mixed in, but those elements are there.
CTV: Right. Of course.
Richard: The vampire, werewolf elements–they are–it’s not like they’ve been brushed aside. In fact, I’d say Twilight does have some similarities to this show as a whole in the fact that they deal with the vampire characters in Twilight as people which– and they have the–yes, they have the supernatural abilities and they are vampires, but they still have human drama.
CTV: Yeah. That’s a good point. I just–I think it’s worth noting too, like you just mentioned, it’s just so much more complex than what people would assume as, perhaps, other vampire, werewolf shows they may have seen before. That’s what I wanted to get across.
Richard: Yeah. Well, it is a unique show. It’s a unique take on it and that’s pretty good.
CTV: So speaking of that kind of complex element, the special effects are really intense. What’s that like? How did you get used to that?
Richard: It’s kind of like–I look at it like any other sort of job because the special effects and all that are the reality of the people, of the characters, in the world of the show. It’s kind of similar to–it’s just suspending your disbelief and buying into the world of the show and kind of forgetting that those are special effects and that those are supernatural elements that had–in terms of this world, that’s just reality.
CTV: I know it’s a Netflix original series which is really cool, and Netflix, obviously, is one of the best places to binge watch shows. Do you have any favorite shows you like to binge watch?
Richard: I sure do. I like Hemlock Grove quite a bit.
CTV: Right, right. Of course.
Richard: I also really like Homeland. I’ve binge watched that show, and also Hannibal–a big fan of Hannibal.
CTV: Nice. So you have played a number of characters in all kinds of shows. Do you have a favorite character or characters that you’ve ever played?
Richard: Well, it’s funny that I’ve played all these characters and I still say that the favorite character that I’ve ever played was in a play I did when I was at UC Santa Cruz called The Pitchfork Disney, a play by Philip Ridley who’s an English playwright. The role was a character named Presley Stray which was–I’m still so fond of it, maybe it’s because it was one of the earlier characters I played that I had such a good experience with, or maybe it was just that great.
CTV: What do you enjoy most about acting in the horror, sci-fi, fantasy genres?
Richard: Well, I love sci-fi fantasy genre. I think it’s so appealing because there’s so much creative license with the world of these shows and it–science and the unmapped, unexplored realm of science I think are fascinating and so, mixing that with creativity and the imagination and thinking up of new worlds and new technology and even fantastical onus is intriguing to me. I also like to read a lot–that genre of books. One of my favorite series of books is Gunslinger, The Dark Tower series, by Stephen King.
CTV: Is there any genre that you haven’t worked in that you might want to pursue? Or is this you kind of have your niche and you stick with that or–?
Richard: No. I’m totally open to doing anything except for sitcoms. The sitcom is something that is very foreign to me. I don’t really get it. I don’t know if–it’s just not in the cards. But anything else, I’m completely interested in and very open to.
CTV: Cool. And you’ve been in quite a few projects over the years. I’m wondering who haven’t you worked with that you would love to work with at some point? Could be directors or actors.
Richard: Well, there are a large amount of directors that I haven’t worked with that I would like to work with. In particular, I’d say I’d really like to work with Ridley Scott. He’s a really talented director. And more recently, Scott Cooper who I believe directed Black Mass. I think he’s really showed a lot of promise and Ron Howard and–there are so many.
CTV: I know it’s a tough question; those are great examples. Can you tell us about any projects coming up or in the works? I know I saw a few things there and I think I read that you just wrapped up a film that your wife directed?
Richard: Yeah. Yeah, I did.
CTV: That’s awesome.
Richard: Yeah, it’s going to be a great film. It’s looking really good. It’s called Lower Bay. The title may change though. They’re still–it’s still a working title. We shot that, actually, in Toronto immediately after I shot Hemlock Grove.
CTV: Yeah, isn’t Hemlock Grove, isn’t that shot in Toronto or–?
Richard: Yeah. It was–we shot in the wintertime and early spring. We did Hemlock Grove and then, immediately after, I shot Lower Bay with my wife. It was interesting the way that worked out because I was able to take her to Toronto with me and she was in pre-production while I was shooting the TV show.
CTV: That’s so cool.
Richard: Yeah. It’s very cool and she’s also the writer of the film and the producer. It was produced by–also by my wife, Jenna Mattison, and the producer of The Ring movies.
CTV: Oh my gosh. Yeah, real intense.
CTV: Are you able to describe at all what that film’s about or is it kind of under lock for right now?
Richard: Yeah, I’m able to say a couple of things about it. It takes place in what is rumored to be a haunted subway station and the main character played by Rose McGowan; she kind of goes through a self-discovery in this environment of the haunted subway station and some things that she–from her past that come back to haunt her.
CTV: That’s intense. Is there a timeline at all for that…?
Richard: It’s out probably early next year, I would imagine.
CTV: Okay. Next year.
Richard: They’re in editing right now so sometime next year, I think. It’s pretty intense, man. It’s–I think my wife did a really great job on it.
CTV: And her– Jenna Mattison is her name?
Richard: Yeah, Jenna Mattison.
CTV: So for people who may be into the sci-fi fantasy genre and perhaps they haven’t watched Hemlock Grove yet, what would you say is one reason why you think it’s definitely worth checking out?
Richard: Well, because this is the third and final season, the writers really pulled out all the stops and it’s going to be really intense. I think the audience is going to be pretty riveted by it. It’s not something you’re going to want to miss.
CTV: Right. So they’re going all out at the end.
Richard: They totally are and the showrunner Chip Eglee is such a talented guy–really put together a fantastic writing team. From what I’ve heard, regarding the final product, all the performances from the actors are really top-notch. I think it’s going to be quite a ride.
CTV: Awesome. Well thank you so much, Richard. We really appreciate your time, and we’re going to look forward to October 23rd!
Richard: Yeah, thank you. Thanks for the call.
Sarah is a writing teacher and pop culture addict. Her current TV obsessions include "The Mindy Project" and "Girls" (and endless reruns of "Sex and the City"). She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram.