Richard Gunn discovered his love for acting in high school, when he began to take acting classes in order to overcome his shyness. From there, he obtained his BA from UC Santa Cruz, where he acted in productions with the professional repertory company, Shakespeare Santa Cruz. His most memorable role is that of Calvin Theodore in James Cameron’s Dark Angel, for which he won a People’s Choice Award when he was in his 20s. After Dark Angel was cancelled, Gunn guest-starred on a variety of other television shows, including Dexter, CSI and The Mentalist, as well as starring in several movies, such as For the Love of Money and Dark Places. In addition to starring in the next season of Amazon’s Hemlock Grove as Aitor Quantic, he also just finished playing John Sanders in the critically acclaimed series, Granite Flats. I recently had the opportunity to chat with this talented actor about his role on Hemlock Grove, his love for Game of Thrones and his admiration for Hannibal actor Mads Mikkelson. Keep reading to find out more!
What inspired you to go into acting?
That goes back to high school. I was a very shy kid, and I wanted to kind of overcome that, so I spoke to my high school guidance counselor, who was a very kind man. I asked him, “Is there any class that I could take in school that would help me overcome this shyness that I have?” And he said, “Yeah, you could take Speech class or Drama class.” So, I opted for drama because I thought it would be a lot more fun. And that was kind of it.
Which role helped you know for sure that acting was what you wanted to do for your career?
I guess this would be this role I had in a play in college. The role was called Presley Stray in a play called “The Pitchfork Disney,” which was a very interesting play written by Phillip Ridley. That play was awesome to work on. I mean, I pretty much already knew that I wanted to be an actor for my career, but that solidified things.
Who are some of the actors that you really admire?
Well, there’s a ton. I really admire Sam Elliott; I think he’s an awesome actor. I also think that Mads Mikkelson is an awesome actor. I really enjoy his work. And also Benicio del Toro…there’re so many. There’re so many great talents to look up to, and I feel really blessed about that.
What do you enjoy the most about being on “Hemlock Grove”?
Well, there was a ton that I loved about it. The cast, first of all, was so kind and talented and cool and receptive to me. You know, I wasn’t in the first two seasons, so coming on in the third, that was a real blessing. The crew was phenomenal—a very hard-working group of creative people—with everybody adding value to the project. The showrunner, Chic Eglee, who I have worked with in the past, and who I think is just a very talented man, was very, very good at running the show and a very talented writer, and he put together an awesome writing team. I have nothing negative to say at all about that whole process. It was such a great experience, so rewarding, and I’m excited to see the finished product. I think it’s going to be pretty stellar.
What can you tell me about Aitor Quantic?
I can tell you some vague details! (Laughs). Aitor is a stranger that comes to Hemlock Grove in the third season, and he’s a very interesting cat that marches to the beat of his own drum. Probably like no one that you’ve ever met, and I think that you will definitely see why when you watch the show. Anything more would really blow it and I’d hate to do that because it’s going to be so cool for people to experience first-hand when they watch it. I can tell you the meaning of the name Aitor. It has vast origins and it means “good father.”
What do you think makes “Hemlock Grove” different from other supernatural-ish shows on television right now?
I think the writing really sets it apart, because it’s so character-driven, and it’s not focused on magic, per say. Everything is grounded. There’re reasons behind everything that happens. You know, a lot of supernatural shows and stories are fantastical, so there’s really no rulebook, and I think that “Hemlock Grove” has a universe that is grounded in reality, even though it does still have supernatural elements.
How do you feel that you’ve grown as an actor since being on “Dark Angel”?
Well, the short answer is that I’ve grown up. (Laughs). I was a bit of a goofball then, but since then, I’ve matured and manned up a little bit. Or perhaps a lot!
If “Dark Angel” were ever brought back, would you be interested in returning to it?
Oh yeah, of course! I mean, that was a really defining experience in my career, and I have a lot of fond memories. I’d love to work with those people again. Chic Eglee was a co-creator of “Dark Angel” along with James Cameron, Jessica Alba was the star, and one of my best friends to this day is J.C. Mackenzie who played Normal.
Could you share a funny story from being on the “Dark Angel” set?
I think I went into the wrong make-up trailer one day. There were so many productions happening in Vancouver at the time. And I walked in ready for hair and make-up and was like, “What the hell is happening? Where is everybody?” And they were like, “Oh no, you’re in the trailer for like “Josie and the Pussycats” or something.” And I was quickly escorted to the proper one.
So, what about a funny story from the “Hemlock Grove” set?
I was at one point trying to—I had to play guitar at one point, and it was so cold. First of all, I’ve never lived in cold like that ever in my entire life. That was the coldest that I’ve ever been: Toronto, in the winter. And I was trying to get my guitar tuned, because in the cold, the strings shrink, so I was trying to keep the guitar in tune all day, and then the strings just started breaking on me right before the scene. So that was a little bit of a—more of a stressful situation, actually, but looking back on it, it was pretty funny. Like one after another; I was playing and one would go and then I’d fix that one and there goes another one. (Laughs).
You’ve guest-starred on quite a few shows over the years. Is there a show that you’d love to guest star on that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Well, for sure, I’d love to guest star on “Game of Thrones,” but that’s unlikely because they have sets all over the world and they mostly use a British cast. Also, I would’ve loved to have guest-starred on “Hannibal” but that one’s finished now, unfortunately.
I love “Game of Thrones” too and think that you’d be awesome on it!
Thanks! I would just love to do that show. It’s such a cool show. That’s one of my favorite genres, first of all, and it’s got everything in that show. Dragons. Sword-fighting. Knights.
Did you read the books in addition to watching the show?
I’ve read like four of them, but not quite all of them. I guess they are still going from the books though, so I could sit down and get a sneak peek if I read the rest of them, but I haven’t yet.
If you could work with any actor or actress, who would it be and why?
I would really love to work with Mads Mikkelson. He’s really such a fascinating actor. He’s so subtle but he’s not understated that you miss stuff from his performances. His performances are super rich and full, so he’s certainly one that I would love to work with.
So back to “Hemlock Grove,” what can we expect from this final season?
I think you can expect for the show to go all out, and I think the audience can expect to be pretty riveted by all of the going-ons in town. It’s going to be awesome.
Besides acting, what are you passionate about?
I’m very passionate about vintage motorcycles. I also have a huge interest in home renovation and I’m a big fan of science news relating to the universe. And I dabble a little bit in classical guitar.
Season three of Hemlock Grove will premiere on October 23, 2015! Also, make sure you follow Richard on Twitter at @RichardGunnInc for more news and updates!