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'Grimm': Amy Acker plays a fairy tale spider-woman

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Scott Green/NBC

A pop culture week that began with a sneak peek at Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man comes to a close with a scary-fun hour of Grimm (NBC, 9/8c) that could be called “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Actually, the episode is entitled “Tarantella” and it features actress Amy Acker — a cult pop fave best known for her work in Angel and Alias — as a femme fatale who happens to be an enchanted arachnid known as a “spinnetod.” Said creatures suffer from a rapid-aging condition that can only be managed by killing and feasting on young men via a process that involves perhaps the grossest, sloppiest, creepiest smooch ever staged on television. Seeing the gag-inducing footage for the first time, “I had to watch it through my fingers, too,” giggles Acker, whose guest-stint on Grimm reunited her with exec producer David Greenwalt, who co-created Angel with Joss Whedon. “Luckily, I’ve been exposed to a lot of stuff like that in my career, so it seems pretty normal right now.”

To be clear, Acker’s spider lady isn’t all that bad. The character is shaded with the same pathos and complexity that has marked many of Grimm’s “freaks of the week” — although saying anything more in this case would be a spoiler. Teases Acker: “I am supposed to be the bad guy, but [by the end] you’re kinda like: ‘Wait. Maybe they should let her do that.’ It’s only three victims, and they’re not nice guys, anyway.”  One of those guys happens to be played by actor-stuntman Mike Massa, whom Acker knows well. “I killed him on Angel, and I also killed him on Alias, so this is my third time killing him,” says the actress. “That was my highlight.”

Grimm kicks off a high-profile spring for Acker. She’ll also be seen on an upcoming episode of the TV season’s other new fairy tale fantasy, ABC’s Once Upon A Time. (Her role remains top secret for now.) She also stars in the upcoming horror flick Cabin in the Woods (April 13), produced by Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard, a former writer-producer on Alias and Angel. Acker says whenever she gets a call from her former bosses asking her to play a part, the answer is pretty much an automatic yes. “I am lucky to know such talented people,” says Acker, whose body of work  — Winifred Burke (though ‘Fred’ is just fine) on Angel; fiendish Kelly Peyton on Alias; and Dr. Saunders (unless you prefer to think of her Whisky) on Whedon’s short-lived Dollhouse — has earned her a fan following. “But I owe that right back to these writers,” she says. “They’ve given me great opportunities to play such different parts. I like that I get to be a character actress, with my friends casting me and challenging me to do things I’ve never done before.” Still, it’s not just the Comic-Con fanboys who recognize her. “I was at Starbucks the other day,” she says, “and a guy said: ‘It’s you! You were on my favorite episode of Law and Order!’ I was like ‘Really? That’s where you know me from?’ But I’m just lucky that anyone knows me at all.”

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

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