Demetrius Grosse is the star of NBC’s new drama, Game of Silence. Grosse’s portrayal of unforgettable characters in films like Straight Outta Compton, Saving Mr. Banks, and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi have cemented his role in the industry. His televisions credits include roles in Justified, Banshee, ER, Heroes, Criminal Minds, and Glee.
Aside from taking over the big and small screen, Grosse is turning his talents to the stage – he is currently preparing to spend the summer in Portland where he will be starring in the play, A Streetcar Named Desire – the 1947 play written by the American playwright Tennessee Williams. The play received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948. Grosse will be playing the character Stanley Kowalski – a role originally played by Marlon Brando. The actor humbly discussed his proudest moments as an actor, what it was like to work on a set with Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, and the importance of balancing roles. There is one thing for certain- Grosse is one of the most determined in the business and his career has only just begun.
Q: What has been your favorite place to travel for set?
DG: Malta- I never knew that it existed. It is this little speck of an island. It’s about 200 miles from Sicily and I got to bring my family my mom came over. I was there with the 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi crew. That to me was a great experience. There are other places as well that’s probably the furthest I’ve traveled for a film. When I was in high school I traveled to the French Riviera but I was studying drama and I wasn’t… you know, working. I studied in South Africa as well. But Malta that was my first time being somewhere specifically for a job.
Q: You’ve been in very different and very important films, movies, and plays. What has been your favorite role?
DG: My favorite role is the one I’m doing now. I try to look forward as much as I can. I appreciate the past but I try to look forward and my favorite role is this character I’m playing named Terry Bosh on NBC’s Game of Silence which premiers on the 12th of April right after the Voice. It’s an episode arc- I actually play a proverbial villain of the show. You know the character is multi-dimensional in that he is a business man and he’s a family guy. He has sensitivity but also a sense of depth and he can be very true and makes split-hair decisions. He’s that guy that all those layers are there on the surface, he’s like a rubrics cube in sense of his composition because he’s kind of got this card deck of personas that he whips out that you can see in him during this first season. So I kind of look to that character as my favorite. That’s the one I’m tweaking and tinkering with currently, so I’m hoping to get a second season so we can take it further.
Q: That sounds fun- to grow with your character and discover your character as you play them. Do you like playing the villain more or the good guy?
DG: I actually like playing good guys. I was in this short film called Samaria and I did another short film called Counter and these weren’t big budget projects but they had pathos where the character had a good, wholesome spine. I played a guy on the street, a homeless fellow. And Samaria I played a character who was basically there in a time of crisis to support this woman and in Counter I played Bayard Rustin who was one of the advisors for Martin Luther King Jr. and that was a period piece directed by Nicholas Bouier. These are young screenwriters so it’s exciting to be part of a very promising young director’s career. We all know that a tide raises all boats.
Q: Do you feel like you’re drawn to these very important roles as an actor? How do you choose which one you take and don’t take?
DG: Well first you see what opportunities present themselves. And then you look at where you want to be, what you want to communicate, what you think about who your audience is and what kind of legacy you want to leave behind.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as an actor?
DG: My proudest moment moment was on Banshee. I got a chance to play Emmett Yawners on the first and second season of Banshee and now it’s on it’s 3rd season. And there was this one scene where there is a drug store robbery taking place and my character Emmett actually does a song and I remember that was a big deal for me because the network at the time was reinventing its reputation. Cinemax had some programming in it’s history and they were trying to revolutionize you know the wider media’s perception of who they were so getting the chance to actually pray in a scene was pretty powerful, at the time and I remember reading it and thinking wow, this is going to be on Cinemax and at the same time it’s going to be appropriate for the story and also insightful for the character. That was a proud moment, because I’m not a religious guy but it’s always good when you can leave something in your work that is positive and breeds any kind of hope that is striving towards goodness. We have a character that can do that and portray a character that doesn’t align with your personal beliefs but it is for an altruistic end you find yourself in a very fortunate place.
Q: That’s so interesting to think about leaving behind that body of work because it is going to live on and I think that people really love Emmett and they were very drawn to Emmett. Generations are probably going to watch your performance on that show. Do you ever think about that?
DG: I do, I do. My mom is big on legacy [laughs] she still is big on legacy and you know I have a family and young ones looking up to me and people from all over – like my hometown. I have people coming up to me who saw me on Justified or you know some other things I’ve done and it’s always good to have a positive body of work to balance out the things that are a little more risqué and dangerous. You don’t want to get slanted as a bad dude and you’re not just leaving behind work that speaks to one narrative.
Q: How do you prepare to auditions?
DG: Well that’s a trade secret [laughs].
Q: What do you do outside acting for fun?
DG: Right now I’m really into music and producing my own songs. I also like basketball – I go to a lot of games, and I workout a lot. Lots of basketball pickups… and that’s pretty much it. I’m pretty into my music right now and writing. Still kind of related to acting but I’m producing projects to give that voice some wings.
Q: I read that you are working on a short film, did you finish that?
DG: Yeah, I wrote the feature and now I’m redacting it as a short film to be used as a calling card – basically to see how the short film forms the feature. When I complete the short I may add in or take away things for the feature. I think getting a lot of encouragement to do the short film has helped move it forward too. So I’m working on that and an untitled Lifetime series and working with a buddy JP. He just got picked up for a series on CBS gives us a lot of information and advice on how to get a pitch sold.
Q: Straight Outta Compton is such a revolutionary picture. Did you realize that it would be so important for audiences? And what was it like to not be nominated for any Academy Awards?
DG: It did win the NAACP – which is a major award. I think the movie wasn’t made to be recognized by the Academy. I think if the Academy had recognized it as a great film that would have been great but I don’t think anything is lost in the quality of the film and I certainly don’t think anything will be taken away from it’s legacy with this oversight. I think the movie was made by people who were there at the time so it has a level of authenticity and virtual reality that you couldn’t replace if you had any less creative control than Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and those guys had. So, it is a testament to the power of creating content, telling your story, and staying true to your vision. It’s really an American triumph story. It’s a story obviously with an urban slant and a political backdrop but it’s the story of the American dream and a group of people coming together and taking the world into their own hands and believing in themselves and having a fraternal kind of order and staying true to their values and what they believe in and not letting anyone stop them. I think people from all walks of life can relate to that. When we made the film … well, it felt like nothing I’ve ever done before just in terms of the comfort level and the process – it felt very fluid and collaborative and in that regard I knew that it would be successful, I didn’t know it would be as successful and influential as it is now. I knew it had a good vibe, you can kinda tell when it has a good vibe.
Q: This year you have so much coming out – you are just on fire.
DG: [Laughs] – well thank you and in my less than inspired moments I will remember that, “fire”. It takes a healthy, risk taking attitude to do this work. A certain ethic so to speak. A kind of nerve if you will.
*Photos courtesy of Bob Mahoney/NBC