Exclusive: Interview With Greg Grunberg on TalkAboutIt.org, Heroes & Star Trek

Heroes star (and best friend to JJ Abrams) Greg Grunberg has launched a new website to get people talking about epilepsy called talkaboutit.org, and he has got a number of celebrities to get involved, doing videos for the site, including the new Kirk and Spock. TrekMovie talked to the actor about the site, working with Chris and Zach, the new Star Trek movie (and his semi-cameo), and Heroes. Plus we found out what part he wants in the Star Trek sequel!



Greg Grunberg got involved in epilepsy awareness and related causes due to his son Jake who suffers from the disorder. Earlier this month he worked with the Epilepsy Foundation to launch a new website, talkaboutit.org, which will help increase awareness for the general public as well as those who are affected more directly by epilepsy. Grunberg brought in a number of celebrities to do videos on the site, including his friend JJ Abrams and the new Kirk and Spock, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.


TrekMovie.com: What was the impetus for you to create talkaboutit.org?

Greg Grunberg: Well it isn’t just me, it is also Ken Lowenberg from the Epilepsy Foundation. Because the epilepsy world has not had any significant celebrity presence – from time to time somebody will say ‘I have it’ – but no one has stepped forward as the spokesperson and represent the 3-5 Million people in the US who are dealing with epilepsy, at all different levels and degrees of severity. We have gone through the ringer on it. Jake started off with staring spells and mild seizures to having full fall-down seizures and every kind. It got so bad that we went to the last resort, which is brain surgery. Because of that, I have experienced all different levels of this as a parent. And it is so needed that there is one place for all the organization to come together, and they need a voice. So the impetus was at one of these functions and I was talking to all the top doctors from all over the world and people who are struggling and the one common thread was ‘if we could just remove the stigma, if we could just get people to talk about it.’ So jut before I went on to speak I ran downstairs to the business center and bought the website talkaboutit.org. It isn’t ‘talkaboutepilepsy.org’ because that is a red flag and sounds scary, so we will fool them. I know all these celebrities and the truth is they all want to help. Just talking about it can lead to everything that we want, whether it is a cure or finding tips on raising a child or learning how to handle a seizure. So what we decided to do was start talkaboutit.org and it is not a horror story, because that is the first thing you find when you research any disease online. It is a place where people can exchange information and you are responsible for your own information. So now we can talk about it, the way people talk about cancer or AIDS and no one has to hide from this disease anymore. 

TM: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about epilepsy?

GG: Well a long time ago the biggest misconception was that people were possessed by the devil, and I mean like only forty of fifty years ago, and in some countries, third world countries, they still feel that way. But the immediate misconceptions are the old wives tales. like if some has a seizure you should stick something in their mouth so they don’t choke on their tongue. Absolutely never ever should you stick anything in someone’s mouth if they are having a seizure. Second thing, that if you see someone having a seizure you should hold them down — absolute 100% wrong thing to do, you should just make sure they are comfortable and nothing falls on them, and just be a friend and wait it out and they will be fine, they will come out of it.

Zach Quinto and Chris Pine do a video on epilepsy first aid in an intro video on talkaboutit.org

TM: You got a lot of celebrities involved, including Zach Quinto who you work with on Heroes, but you also got Chris Pine to join him for a video, how did that come about?

GG: I met Chris on the set of Star Trek and then one night we had dinner with JJ and Chris and Bryan Burk, and that guy is so great, he is so funny and he really fits this movie and Kirk so well. Anyway we hit it off and he immediate said, as do most celebrities who I meet — everybody wants to help. They came in together and they did their bit and it gives me chills. For people in the epilepsy community to have all of these celebrities behind it and to make it, I hate to say it, but ‘cool.’ We are going to get people talking about this. And to see those two guys, and they didn’t talk about Star Trek, but clearly it is Spock and Kirk! It was incredible and so moving. It is exciting they did this for us.

TM: Speaking of JJ, as his best friend, what affect has this long process of making the Star Trek movie has had on him.

GG: I think he has got incredibly excited. This is the second time he has been asked to jump onto a franchise that is so ingrained and established and to try and re-invigorate it. This thing is so huge. It is like giving someone a Faberge egg and saying ‘make a box out of it.’ For him to not be scared to tackle that is a huge thing. And this is not just JJ, without Bob and Alex and all of them — they are this creative machine that is at the right place at the right time. I have seen the movie twice now and I love it. And again I am not the typical fan — it is just a great movie for everyone.

TM: As per tradition, you appear in projects by JJ. For Star Trek you were offered a role, but because you were shooting something else you couldn’t do it. What role was offered?

GG: They offered me the red shirt Olsen, the guy in the trailer diving down. I wanted it so bad, obviously I would take anything from JJ, but that role in particular, because as soon as they see me in a red shirt people would be like ‘oh my god he is going to die’, it would have been great, but I couldn’t do it because I was shooting a movie that I co-wrote and co-produced called Group Sex.

Grunberg was almost Olsen the redshirt (left), who ended up being played by Greg Ellis

TM: But you still worked your way into it in a small way, like on the radio

GG: Well I cannot say, but when you see the movie you will know it is me.

TM: But what you did does not preclude you appearing in the sequel. I was thinking you would be perfect for Harry Mudd.

GG: You are not the first to bring that up. I would absolutely love to play Harry Mudd, that would be incredible. I would have to redefine the character and do it the way I see doing it, but that character to me has comedy and brings levity and I would be able to work with robotic chicks. How fun would that be?

TM: So no mustache? How much redefining?

GG: No I would go with the big mustache and an earring, why not? [laughs]

Grunberg wants to be the new Harry Mudd

TM: Finally onto Heroes, the show has been criticized for the first part of this season going down a few blind alleys, but do you think the second half of the season has been an attempt to return to the roots?

GG: As much as it can. What is interesting is that a show like Heroes worked on a couple of levels in the first season in a way you can never go back to. And that is that it is a show all about discovery, these characters were discovering their powers and we were discovering the show and there is a sort of magical quality to that. And so once you are in that world and everyone is a super hero, you lose that. I think that is what the show lost, in it being about real people leading extraordinary lives with extraordinary abilities, as cliché as that is, but that is what people identified with. I am always trying to play as real as possible, I try to say everyman as possible and my character is just trying get back to just having a family. And Bryan Fuller coming back is a big plus for us, because he has that voice in his pen. So they found a way to bring it back to where it started, as much as they can, because we rediscovering what happened to our ancestors a
generation before us, and that is where season three ends, in this kind of shocking revelation, and it will carry us into season four. I am really happy with my character and his getting back to his family, and the new direction of the show.

Grunberg in season finale for Heroes

The season finale of Heroes airs tonight on NBC at 9PM.

Behind the scenes at TalkAboutIt.org
The folks behind talkaboutit.org sent over some behind the scenes images of Chris Pine and Zach Quinto recording their first aid video.

Grunberg goes over lines with Chris Pine

Quinto and Pine on the set

Pine and Grunnie grin for the camera

And here is another promo video by Chris Pine for TalkAboutIt.org


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Grunberg, Quinto, and Pine seem like real stand-up guys.

Good stuff from good people.

What about Jack Black as Harry Mudd…?

I love that shot of Quinto and Pine on the set. <3 <3 <3

Jack Black?, it’s not that kinda roll. It calls for acting.

Jack Black is cast as anything in Star Trek and I will personally hand deliver every single piece of Star Trek merchandise I own and have ever owned, take it to Paramount, and light it on fire.

That a great site. Very informative and helpful. I learned a lot about first aid watching ZQ and CP. Everyone should see it.

RE Jack Black – i was pretty much being sarcastic… :P

There is a new trailer, just been shown on uk tv (comedy central) with new footage from movie!!!!

It’s funny…..there’ doesn’t seem to be that type of character actor around anymore. The guy who played Cyrano Jones (who I noticed the other night was in Requiem for a Heavyweight) don’t seem to be around anymore. I’m not sure who would be a good Mudd. I’m willing to give him a chance but I don’t quite see Jack Black.

Epilepsy sucks. I know personally. Just consider that 400 years ago, sufferers like myself were burned as devils and witches.

“Wiiiiitch! Wiiiiitch! They’ll burn ya!” — street wench from All Our Yesterdays

if they do Harry Mudd you have to put his wife in lol!

WTF? I tried to play the video. I got a voiceover narrarator saying a couple words, and the audio for Pine was unheard and the clip last less than 5 seconds……I tried 4 times!

Spectrum, one can never bee too careful. After all, Paramount almost launched a Star Trek IV with Eddie Murphy as the “civilian” lead.

Now if we can just see Kirk meet Carol Marcus in this new timeline.

13 – Stella Dear. Then later a very satisfying, SHUT …. UP !!!!!

Talk about it indeed.
My wife contracted epilepsy at age 31 and we’ve been through the hell of all the drugs and side-effects, and it’s NOT a small deal by any stretch.
I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s hell.
Finally, it’s getting some coverage, like the recent Newsweek cover story.

Tough call on a replacement for Roger C. Carmel – he pretty much owned the Harry Mudd character.

…as far as the fellow who played Cyrano Jones, that was a guy by the name of Stanley Adams. Reason you haven’t seen him around is because he died in 1977 (suicide).

18 – FYI, Stanley Adams also played a carrot on Lost in Space. Very funny episode!

A Trek movie with Harry Mudd in it would not draw audiences except just hard core fans. What we need in the sequel is for a race of beings we have never seen before (creators of the Doomsday Machine, etc) that threaten the Federation and for gods sake no Klingons. They have been done to death.

I’m down with Greg as Harry Mudd for the Sequel. But the Brougish accent is a must!!! So Greg start working on it!!!

Someone get Pine a comb or is that Peter Tork??

Had a friend with epilepsy in elementary school his website is a wonderful tool to help combat the condition – Kudos!!

I could totally see Grunberg play Melvin Belli’s character from ‘And the Children Shall Lead”.

If Harry Mudd were to show up, it’d have to be a supporting role, NOT the main villain or anything. Like he’d be running a scheme on some space outpost and there’d be a brief run-in with him. Maybe he gets shook up or mind-melded for information or something. Nothing major.

Personally, I think it’d be neat if the Enterprise had to take on some Lovecraftian threat. Or (this would NEVER happen, especially since Stracyznski is working on a FP movie), have a Star Trek version of Forbidden Planet, although I don’t know if the Monster of the Id would quite translate into CGI.

Grunberg would be great in whatever capacity they put him in.

Grunberg would be great in whatever capacity they put him in.

Greg Grunberg is….. The Horta.

I want to see Ben Stiller in the next movie doing Shatner, as a transporter duplicate of the new Kirk.


#22- That’s all we need- JJ deciding to do a remake of the “Friendly Angel” episode for the sequel. (I object!)


“Grunberg would be great in whatever capacity they put him in.”

Grunberg is a nice little TV actor but he is by no means a Laurence Olivier by any stretch of the imagination.

I could see Harry Mudd as the central charactor in a Star Trek movie. Think a Jack Sparrow type role.

Hell, Star Trek’s big time now. They might even get Depp.

oh man johnny depp in trek would be great :D

I don’t see why Depp would want to do a ‘Jack Sparrow’ type role, since he’s already done the actual Jack Sparrow role.

In my opinion, they should mostly steer clear of re-introducing villains from the original time-line (OTL). Some nice, small nods to the OTL would be fine and dandy, but let’s try to explore new villains and adventures as much as possible.

Just because it’s a re-boot, doesn’t mean it has to be a re-tread.

That is so, so great of Grunberg. My mother has Epilepsy, and people absolutely need to hear about it. I see people make fun of the disease, act like it’s some big joke, and such.. It’s really immature, and it hurts because I’ve seen my mom go through a Grand Mal. It’s scary. So, thank you to all who support the site. So much.

Greg, thanks for doing this. This one is close to this Trekkie’s heart (as my beautiful wife is epileptic). Greatly appreciated. Awareness is key.

Good point, Mawazitus (32). Reinventing Mudd as a Johnny Depp charactor completely goes against everything I would want to see for Star Trek. (But then, Buster Crabb played Flash Gordan and Buck Rodgers, two very similar charactors. It could be done.) Anthony opened the door for the Mudd recasting and I stepped right in.

But then again, after I see this new Trek I may say “Whatever you think Abrams, go for it.”

Yea Bring back Harry Mudd for the sequal that would be fun!

#15-be careful wat ye wish 4, lest ye get Britney Spears as Carol Marcus..although…her hit Womanizer would work; its practically a Jim Kirk anthem

Nice joke Parkman, but you won’t see Harry Mudd unless they do the smart thing and go with a TV series.

I think this is something really big GG..standing up and making people know how important it is to take care and support people in need,ESP epilepsy is one great job..Keep it up big buy…..ONE

It’s nice That Zack and Chris did the Video. In school I had a classmate had Epilipsy. She’s a very nice person. I’m glad they have a informational site. This needed to be out to teach people what to and what not to do in case of seisures. And Inspiration and encouragement for those who have it.

Very very good!!!!!!!

Watched the Finale of Heroes last night, GREAT!!!!

Good good stuff!

Greg would make a great Harcourt Fenton Mudd mark II. Of course, a dual role as Mudd, and his brother Ambassador John Burke Mudd could be interesting. There’s how you get Harry: Ambassador Mudd is kidnapped or killed, and Harry is asked to step in. Maybe the Klingons find the Botany Bay first, and realize it’s part of the reason for their “Affliction”…. have to get it back before….

But then the sequel would sort of have to take place after Mudd’s Women and I, Mudd, and that would place it after all the episodes we’ve discussed around here that would be good to revisit: such as WNMHGB, Corbomite, etc.

awesome celebrities just like normal cool people in my eyes as they are inspiring and not the flashy type good luck with everything to all these guys

I had epilepsy all my life until 3 years ago.I’m 45 plus years old.
I didn’t fall on the ground ,but what would happen to Me was that there would be a build up and then the seizures would manifest in my hands flapping at the wrists and forearms.
It was embarrassing to Me as I grew up .I felt ashamed when someone would catch Me.It was humiliating.I tried to hide/manage it.
I could control it so that it didn’t happen in public.It made Me feel terrible about myself and played into my identity and was especially painful in My formative years.A terrible burden as You could imagine
(Very)Long story short…I opened up to a trusted christian minister who specialized in deliverance and one day during a counseling/prayer session in which She was praying against ‘strongholds’ in my life I felt something rush upward through my body and a bang-like sensation in my head.
stunned.I asked Her “What was that?”,because we weren’t praying specifically for one thing.
Her reply was”spirit of epilepsy”.
Throughout the rest of the day,no seizures.
The next day,no seizures.And I’ve had no seizures since.
The reason why I’m telling My story is because there is a spiritual/emotional component to seizures that I know people are neglecting or even trivializing.
Science and medicine don’t have all the answers and some have gone to some very draconian levels such as removing parts of people’s brains in search of relief.
I ‘m speculating that the seizures where a result of some pre-cognitive trauma I must have experienced as an infant in which a spiritual stronghold was established through my generational line.As my father had rage issues when I was a baby.
I hope someone finds my story encouraging.