‘A Million Little Things’: David Giuntoli on Directing, Eddie & Katherine ‘Crushing Post-Divorce’ & More

David Giuntoli directing an episode of A Million Little Things
ABC/Darko Sikman

David Giuntoli steps behind the camera again — he directed an episode of Grimm — with this week’s A Million Little Things.

In “Slipping,” Maggie (Allison Miller) and Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) go to great lengths to entertain an unexpected visitor, and you can get a sneak peek at that in the clip below. Plus, Regina (Christina Moses) fears Tyrell (Adam Swain) is moving too quickly with a new love interest, and Rome (Romany Malco) supports a student who is ready to reveal their truth.

Giuntoli previews the episode and talks about directing below.

How did it come about that you directed this episode?

David Giuntoli: I pouted my way into the spot. [Laughs] The real answer is yes, pouting and perseverance. No, when the show got picked up, I had told [creator] DJ [Nash] in 2018 that I had real designs on directing and it was something I would love to do and there is no reason that he of course would need to give me an episode, but just told him that as an FYI that is something I want to include in my life. It’s been a passion of mine since I was a little kid and DJ was just extraordinarily giving and decided to take a risk on both me and Allison Miller. Her debut was phenomenal and she’s just so well-suited to the position. This wasn’t my first directing job, I did one on Grimm and I absolutely loved it. You get to appreciate each department on a much deeper level, and I absolutely love it.

Obviously they’re very different shows, but is there that came in handy here from directing an episode of Grimm other than general directing experience?

Ultimately, all of these shows rely on the moments between the characters. We can do an action show, a genre show, a procedural, or what we have is kind of an ensemble drama, but it all hinges on the moments, and so I just think finding what the scene is about and really trying to sort of pull that and highlight that in the scene is the most important thing.

Lizzy Greene as Sophie in A Million Little Things

ABC/Darko Sikman

Preview the episode. Who is facing the biggest challenge?

We have this wonderful recurring guest actor, Ash Spencer, who came in and he did a phenomenal job. He [plays] a high school student in a fairly conservative or at least upper crust high school who is coming out as transgender and wants to be referred to as Maddox instead of Madison. I think that storyline was particularly poignant and when I saw the actors perform, I was like, “Oh wow, this is going to really land well.” And he did a great job, as did Romany Malco. I would also say Lizzy Greene had a great challenge to overcome in this episode where we as viewers have seen Sophie sort of find her own agency after being abused sexually. She put herself out there and sent out a message on a social media site asking if there are any survivors of some of Peter’s [Andrew Leeds] behavior, and I think for her, that was an enormous challenge. And we as viewers love watching her really become a woman and a grown-up and stand on her own two feet, really empowered. It was beautiful.

We’ve watched her grow up, and she’s come so far from smashing Eddie’s guitars.

[Laughs] Well, Eddie gives her fewer things to smash guitars about now, so he’s grown, too.

How did this episode challenge you as a director?

I was given an incredible opportunity and I did not want to waste it. I was given a wonderful script, written by Geoffrey Nauffts and David Marshall Grant, and I just wanted to do it service. I didn’t want to leave anything on the field as it were. I felt like I had a lot to prove in a way. I just didn’t want to do any of my friends and colleagues wrong, so I put a lot of pressure on myself and I think that anxiety is important when you’re stepping into a new work position because it forced me, at least, to double, triple, quadruple prepare and hopefully I didn’t botch the job too much. I think it’s a beautiful episode.

Erin Karpluk as Anna, David Giuntoli as Eddie in A Million Little Things

ABC/Darko Sikman

How are Eddie and Anna (Erin Karpluk) doing? There’s the matter of her drinking, lying about where she was the day Peter died…

We all know he’s been through a lot and we all know he’s not been the best guy, and he finally found a partner in a relationship based on people being grown-ups, and there are red flags in this relationship. But he’s been through recovery already, and I think he’s really trying to give Anna the benefit of the doubt and do for her what the best of his friends did for him when he was struggling. I think Eddie realizes that the loss of a spouse and a marriage and the life of an ex-spouse is a very turbulent thing to endure, and so he is rather forgiving when he finds out she was lying to him and drinking and all of that. So he loves her, he wants what’s best for her, and he wants to show up for her in ways that he never did for Katherine [Grace Park].

And how about Eddie and Katherine? They’ve really settled into being friends and may be the most amicable we’ve ever seen them.

[Laughs] They’re really crushing post-divorce. That’s the best part of their relationship. We have gotten such a nice response from people regarding this aforementioned amicability that happened post-divorce. I think people really want to see our characters be grown-ups and support each other and that’s extraordinarily hard to do in real life but it does at least put this north star out there for people to be like, “OK, maybe this is how, best-case scenario, we can do it. Put the son first. Put our friendship first.” I know Eddie still has feelings, good and bad, and I’m sure Katherine does too, but they are supporting each other, for the good of their son ultimately. I don’t think the friendship would necessary be so active had they not been sharing Theo [Tristan Byon].

I’m really enjoying Eddie and Greta’s dynamic.

Yeah, I love Cameron Esposito. She came onto the show, and I said, “Listen, Cameron, you’re clearly merging into my jawline lane and my hair lane, so let’s just make good, let’s be friends. I don’t want to be too intimidated by you.” And we’ve hit it off. I do love Eddie and Greta’s sort of bro-y relationship and how it sort of amuses Katherine but also a little bit grosses her out.

DJ and Allison directed recent episodes. Is there anything you can share about conversations you had with either of them or anything you specifically kept an eye on during their episodes?

Everybody was so incredibly supportive and they lived what I was about to live just before I did it, so they were extraordinarily giving with any kind of potential landmines, things that they didn’t think of, things that they found particularly tricky or just even words of encouragement, like “Hey, you’re as prepared as you can possibly be, you’re going to crush it.” It was really wonderful, like the three amigos, quite lovely.

A Million Little Things, Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC