With Friday’s highly anticipated release of I, Frankenstein, Kevin Grevioux solidifies his place as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after African-American screenwriters, graphic novelists and producers in the sci-fi and fantasy genre.
Grevioux is a Chicago native and graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., but he’s best-known as the co-creator of the successful Underworld movie franchise, which has grossed more than $448 million worldwide. Although he studied microbiology in college and started a graduate program in engineering, Grevioux eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film career, and the rest is history. Known for his towering physique and echoing voice, he has appeared in films such as The Mask, Congo, Batman Forever, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, The Hulk, Men in Black II and Underworld, in the latter as the infamous character Raze.
Updating Mary Shelley’s classic 1931 story of Dr. Frankenstein’s notorious monster, in I, Frankenstein Grevioux plays Dekar, the right hand of the leader of the demon world—the film’s Gothic universe that exists in the shadows of the human world.
Grevioux sat down with The Root to talk about his new film, his unconventional path to the big screen and his challenges as an African American in Hollywood.
The Root: Given your background and education, what inspired you to change your path in life from applied science and research to being a graphic novelist and screenwriter in the genre of sci-fi and fantasy?
Kevin Grevioux: I was 7 years old when I became a fan of science fiction and developed a love for monsters. But there was no real way to make a career out of that, especially where I grew up and when I grew up. So you supplement that kind of desire and you become something more socially acceptable, which was to go into the sciences, and that’s what I did.
I wanted to be a doctor at first, but I changed my track to research. I worked at [the National Institutes of Health] in Bethesda and graduated from Howard and studied genetic engineering in graduate school. But I had a growing love for the film industry. So I thought, “You know what? This is a good time just to go for it” and see what I could do, and that’s what I did. I was 28 when I moved to Los Angeles.
TR: Was it challenging to gather the courage to make such a drastic career change after investing so much time in academia? Was your family supportive of your decision?
KG: Both of my parents are academics and went to Harvard. So here I was, the black sheep of the family. You know, going off in another direction, something more creative. They didn’t really understand that until I started getting some work and they started seeing me on TV. Once Underworld broke, I was then able do other things that I really liked.