GeekOut

Amy Acker not so 'Angel'ic on 'Grimm'

Amy Acker first hit the geeky pop culture radar with her role as the awkward, bookish Fred, on Joss Whedon's iconic vampire TV series, "Angel."

"Growing up in high school, I was definitely a lot like Fred," she told CNN Geek Out.

"I would cry if I got a B on a test. I really cared about reading and books and doing good work in school," she said. "I would say Fred is one of the closest characters to me that I’ve played."

When asked to define her particular brand of geekdom, she said, “I don’t know if I’m more of a nerd, or just a dork."

But she clearly has a knack for something a bit more threatening. Just like Fred - who eventually transformed into the demonic Illyria - her character on Friday night's episode of "Grimm" (executive-produced by Whedon's "Angel" collaborator, David Greenwalt) is not all that she seems.

As one of "Grimm's" beasties-of-the-week, Acker went deeper into the fantasy genre than ever before.

“I had never done the whole prosthetic-y thing so I was excited to see what that was like," she said.

“For ‘Angel,’ it was mostly just painted on, so I didn’t have to have the prosthetics added to my face. On ‘Dollhouse,’ with (my character's) scars, I thought that took a long time. It was really easy compared to this," she said. "This was three hours getting the makeup on, and I had the arms and the face-thing and the teeth."

Acker enjoys the possibilities that roles in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres provide. "You’re not a doctor doing the same thing every week, or in a courtroom. You don't know what you'll get week to week. You can die and come back to life."

At least an actor can do that in any production that's within six degrees from Joss Whedon. Just as she said yes when Greenwalt came calling to ask Acker to appear on "Grimm," she also accepted a role on ABC's "Once Upon a Time," where one of the producers is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" alum Jane Espenson.

(It doesn't hurt that Acker admits, "I'm a sucker for fairy tales.")

“Because there are so many talented people in that (Whedon) world I started out in, they’ve gone on to do their own cool shows," she said. "When I know how great the writers are who are calling, usually I jump at the chance to do anything with them."

And Acker can relate to why fans love Whedon's work so much.

"It’s crazy how many writers I've met who say, '("Angel") was the show that made me want to be a writer,'" she said.

"My parents started watching ‘Angel’ after I was on it, and they would have their friends over to watch. After the second season, they said, ‘You know, I think we would watch this show even if Amy wasn’t on it.’ I always thought that was interesting, because people just assumed it was a really genre-y show, but everyone can identify the characters and like the story. It seemed real."

Acker is staying within the "Whedonverse" with an appearance in this week's long-awaited Whedon-produced horror film, "Cabin in the Woods," and starring as Beatrice in Whedon's low-budget (as in, shot at his home) adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."

"Joss has done these Shakespeare readings at his house for years," she explained. "We would all go to his house and spend the afternoon, and enjoy wine and read a play. Three years ago, we did ‘Much Ado,’ and I played Beatrice. In the fall he called and said, ‘Do you want to play Beatrice in a movie about ‘Much Ado About Nothing'? I said yeah. Two weeks later we went up to his house and there was catering and the whole thing. (Acker's 'Angel' co-star and 'Much Ado' love interest Alexis Denisof) said, ‘Oh this is like a real movie!’"

But would she ever accept an offer to appear in one of Whedon's musical projects? "Not if he wants to keep doing musicals. It's not one of my strong suits!"

As for interaction with fans, Acker admits she should tweet more often: "“I have Twitter anxiety. I joined because my friends Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris are always talking about it. But they’re so witty and come up with these awesome tweets. It’s too much pressure!"