He's currently starring in Banshee, scheduled to return for a second season in the UK on Sky Atlantic and Sky Atlantic HD at some point in the summer, and has appeared in Golden Globe nominated film Saving Mr. Banks.
Demetrius Grosse plays the part of Emmett Yawners, a Deputy who's struggling to uncover the truth and shady past of Lucas Hood (Anthony Starr).
We got the chance to put some questions to Demetrius about the incredible series, the chemistry on set and other projects that the actor is taking part in.
Banshee was something completely new to television from my point of view, and goes places other shows haven't dared. How does it feel to be a part of something so daring and fresh?
It's always exciting to be avant-garde and to press the envelope. I think that's what interesting art always does. So to be a part of this show where that ideology is at the forefront of the writing and performance pedagogy feels like a privilege.
How is the chemistry on-set when you're filming Banshee?
The chemistry is really what makes our show work. There are diverse, successful and creative minds bringing a show together from many different parts of the world. We've got blokes from the UK to New Zealand to Greece, even to Washington DC. So we're talking about a highly collaborative environment where you have eclectic perspectives coming together to bring a unified vision into fruition...Makes for great cinema!
What was it about your character Emmett Yawners that drew you to this role?
I really love Emmett. I love the fact that he's reverent of his family, that he is loving & compassionate, and that he is the stand up kind of a guy who you want in your corner. Actually there's a cool exchange in the beginning of season one where Emmett and Lucas are riding to take down Proctor. Emmett asks Lucas "where is the backup?" and in sort of a tongue-in-cheek matter-of-fact way, Lucas says "you're the backup." I kind of dig that scene. It’s microcosmic to who this guy is.
What do you hope for Emmett going forward, without giving away too much about season two for those of us in the UK who haven't yet seen it?
I hope that our audience finds out more about Emmett’s origins, intentions, and back story. As an actor it’s really fun to explore what actually led Emmett him to a town as volatile and unpredictable as Banshee. I'm sure they’ve got guys and gals who watch our show wanting to know what's keeping them there and where his powder keg, boiling points are. Truthfully, it's early on and so there's still a ton that we can discover about this man, his wife Meg, and their baby on the way.
How does filming Banshee compare with other work you've done?
The work that we do on the show is uniquely unprecedented in terms of the themes and social dynamics we explore and uncover. We've got a unique privilege being grafted into the HBO/Cinemax family because just when we would have to skate around certain topics & issues on other networks- we are allowed to go all the way there without holding the punches in a way that's viscerally authentic.
You graduated from Howard University's School of Drama and also studied at Carnegie Mellon - how were those experiences?
Growing up in Washington in the 80's and 90's where there was an all out assault on young black men growing up in the inner cities due to 'quid pro quo', 'Reganomics', and other forms of socioeconomic disenfranchisement, I received a very unguided education. With all that in mind, I had to make sure that I made my scholastic exploits diverse and unique. I mean, the first time I went abroad was when I was 16 to Cap D'Antibes, France to study for 6 months at a school there. Fast forward to varsity, I studied 6 months in the south of England at Oxford under the tutelage of Sir Derek Jacobie the great Fiona Shaw. It's when I returned to the States that I enjoyed the privileges of going to Gonzaga College High school, Howard, and later Carnegie Mellon. I guess these experiences offered me a chance to make my particular training regiment and work ethic unique - hopefully :)
What advice do you have for those aspiring actors who want to go down a path similar to yours?
My advice to any actor/artist who has a dream and desire to achieve something is simple actually. It's probably not really that original [laughs] just never give up because practice can make perfect.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I'm a bit of a thrill seeker. I love traveling, almost any sport, camping, and spending time with my family. I can enjoy music whether it be on YouTube or a live concert. Generally I prefer the latter; for example, when we were shooting season 2 of Banshee I took my queen to a Coldplay concert that was happening near our location. It was right when the Mylo Xyloyo record dropped. Needless to say we had a terrific time.
Do you find balancing work and personal life difficult?
Sure, any work can pose a tricky challenge for balance. Sir Ben Kingsley was asked on Charlie Rose one evening if he thought that actors do their best work if they’re in emotional turmoil or if they’re in a solid place personally. He basically responded that he believes that actors, artists, etcetera do their best work when their personal lives are in order and there is harmony there. I couldn't agree more and so I try to do my best to make sure that there's always balance in both my life and lifestyle.
Are there any other projects you're involved with that you can share some details about?
Actually, I've been working and reworking a feature picture that has elements of John Paul Sartre, Beckett, Pinter, Ecclesiastes, with a dash of Hitchcock. The script is in its final stages before we lock it and should be starting its principal photography before the end of the year. It’s called Godfrey.
Banshee season one is currently airing on Sky Atlantic and Sky Atlantic HD, Thursdays at 4pm.