March 2016 - Cover Story: Kevin Grevioux
The voice alone entitles him to his own Wikipedia and IMDB page, but there is more to Kevin Grevioux than a voice. One of the masterminds behind the popular Underworld franchise, Grevioux is a genius at knowing what his audience wants, and he continues to give it to them. I had the opportunity to meet Kevin during the Albuquerque Comic Con in January. If his resume didn’t impress me enough, the photo op he gave us holding a copy of our magazine impressed me more.
After graduating from Howard University with a degree in microbiology, Grevioux began work towards a Master’s degree in genetic engineering. During his first year of graduate school, Grevioux chose to take screenwriting and cinematography classes. That seemingly small decision had a major impact on Grevioux’s life path, moving him away from science and towards writing and acting in the City of Angels. But since Grevioux was currently in a field that was basically guaranteed to keep him in paid work, that shift was somewhat of a risk. It was all due to Spike Lee. “I was working in a laboratory and the National Cancer Institute at the NIH in Bethesda, MD, when Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It came out. I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my life, but I was already on that path of being a professional scientist. It was rewarding even though it was an entry level lab position, but I was simultaneously taking genetic engineering courses in grad school as well. Having to work full-time and go to school full-time was doable, but it ceased to be fun anymore. So, while I was in grad school, I also took my first few film courses in screenwriting and cinematography. Film won out, and here I am.” He said the decision was a simple one. “The impetus came from my having always been creative as a kid. Then loving both comic books and horror movies. You know what they say, ‘Do something you love and you never have to work a day in your life.’”
Grevioux’s distinctively deep voice lends a unique and intriguing flavor to his on-screen characters. When asked where it came from, Grevioux simply answered, “Puberty.” That voice can be heard in such films as Men in Black II, where Grevioux plays Pineal Eye; I, Frankenstein (for which he wrote the original screenplay) as the character Dekar; and The Batman, as Solomon Grundy. But it was an idea of his and director Len Wiseman that led to one of Grevioux’s most memorable characters, Raze, a lycan (or second-breed, humanistic werewolf) in the film series, Underworld.
Grevioux shared where the concept of Underworld came from. “Lots of different places. I had done some interracial dating and would notice the stares we would get. That was one thing. And then there was my love for the old ‘monster mash’ films like The House of Dracula or Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. Writing Underworld was just a natural out-growth of what I was familiar with.” The success of Underworld was no surprise to Kevin. “I knew people would dig it because I was an old genre guy. Not even the director liked the idea at first.” Underworld has now become a $458 million dollar franchise worldwide, spanning a comic book series and possibly a cartoon adaptation.
Grevioux has seen success as both an actor and a writer, but when it comes to a challenge, Kevin shared what will always be a monster for him. “I would say writing. I mean, they both can have their own unique and particular challenges, but I’m a character actor. People want me because of my voice and physicality, so there’s no surprise there. With writing, I’m digging deep within myself to tap stores and reservoirs of knowledge and experiences to come up with unique and exciting narratives.” When it comes to inspiration, Grevioux has many sources from which to draw. “Life itself. My love for comics and science. God and my family. Anything empirical or experiential becomes fair game to me.”
The success of Underworld led to Grevioux’s creation of DarkStorm Studios, extending his action comics to a bigger audience. Grevioux talked to us about how those studios developed. “Darkstorm is a comic company I created a few years ago to be a holding tank for the myriad of ideas I have and the need to get them out there. It can take forever for a script to become a movie or a TV show, and comics allows me to get it to the public quicker.” While waiting for those ideas to come to fruition, Grevioux has played some of the most memorable characters in film. Kevin will have new character to add to his resume, but the project is hush-hush, says Grevioux. “Nothing that I can speak about right now.”
With a career that includes voice work, writing, acting and producer credit under his belt, I wondered what the future holds for Grevioux and what he would like his legacy to be. Again, his answer was a simple one, “That I did good and interesting work with creative integrity.” A man whose personality and presence towers over the characters that he plays on screen, Kevin Grevioux shows no signs of slowing down. We await the new creatures, villains, heroes and heroines he’ll present on screen and page. But until then, we’ll relish in his current works...and that voice.