To help celebrate their gala, NBC’s Grimm offered up its cast and creators for a set visit that gave stars David Giuntoli, Claire Coffee, Russell Hornsby, Reggie Lee, Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz, Bitsie Tulloch, Bree Turner and creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf a chance to talk about the show. Here are 18 things we learned while on set.
1. Hiding Eve was hard, but playing her is fun
When we last talked to Bitsie for the show’s hundredth episode, it was odd that she was around as her character was dead. But as has since been revealed, she’s come back to life as “Eve.” It was a challenge for Tulloch to keep it a secret.
Tulloch: I found out about it way before it happened, I found out about it in March of 2015 because they know I’m friends with a lot of people on the crew, and I get a lot of information I shouldn’t technically have before it’s out there and I usually tell the rest of the cast, so the producers told me that an outline was going out detailing Juliette’s death, but I should not freak out and they told the plan going into season five. But we were going to have to sell it to the fans that I’m not coming back. That was hard for me because I like interacting with the fans, because – particularly sci-fi fans – they’re loyal, they watch the show when it airs, so it was about seven months of not being able to admit I was on the show. But I think it was a cool twist so the numbers seem to be on an uptick since Eve showed up.
We really just got lucky, the producers got lucky because it would have been tricky to explain why I was still in Portland seven months after getting written off the show, but it was easy because David and I were dating.
There are things I really miss about Juliette, I miss the camaraderie with the Scooby squad, how everyone had their own skill set to get things done but the Eve character’s really fun because she’s such a bad ass. I’ve been training really hard since I got back to Portland after our hiatus, because I knew they wanted me in fighting shape and all the get ups and wigs have been fun. And it’s challenging to play someone who’s so in control all the time. Juliette came more naturally.
Russell Hornsby: She gets to do something different. It’s great to reinvent yourself. Me, I’m a utility man. I’m a swiss army knife. Jack of all trade, master of not a god damn thing.
The change also meant less stuntwork.
Tulloch: Juliette had enough fighting scenes that I had a double but to be honest since I’ve been Eve I haven’t had a stunt double because she’s so powerful she doesn’t need to fight anyone. If someone were to attack Eve she would just look at them and make their head explode. Unless she wanted to, to mess with them a little bit before she makes their head explode.
2. Most of the cast likes to keep busy during their summer breaks
Bitsie: I did Concussion, and then I did Chronic with Tim Roth, which won best screenplay at Cannes this year, but I don’t know what’s going with the release dates for it. And I had also done an Indie and a Portlandia episode, so I kept busy. I like doing it. Being on a TV show is a huge blessing because as an actor you don’t always know when the next job is going to come so the fact that we have steady work for nine months out of the year? No one takes that for granted. But one of the drawbacks is that you’re playing a character for so long you want that muscle to stretch, that acting muscle, you want to play as many characters as possible. But I’ve been lucky because I’ve gotten to play three characters: good Juliette, bad Juliette and Eve.
Star David Giuntoli went to work for Michael Bay, which must have been interesting.
Giuntoli: I will say that Michael Bay has a reputation and it was fun to see if it was true. I love him and he is that guy but he doesn’t mean anything bad by it. He has the movie shot in his head and he wants everyone to do it. It was really great working with him. He’s yelled at me but you can yell at him back. He’s always yelling, not necessarily at you, he’s just trying to get it done but there’s not enough time or money, it’s just how films go. But he’s a genius, and when you’re lucky enough to work on a show for this long it’s like a family, it’s like a marriage, and projects on the side feel like affairs, like trysts. You get together for two months and then you’re gone, it’s something you see in the rear view mirror.
Sasha Roiz and Silas Weir Mitchell spent their off time in the theater:
Roiz: Last hiatus Silas and I wanted to do a play together, and we had a great opportunity to do that here. It was great to work on our chops.
But not everyone feels that way.
Reggie Lee: I don’t try to book other roles because I’m tired. I like to travel. Because I feel like if you work all the time, you should enjoy yourself and breathe. I don’t think life is about that. Besides that, I like really preparing for a role.
3. On moving away from Monsters of the week.
One of the bigger shifts in the show is how there are now more overarching storylines, with Season five focused mainly on the sinister organization Black Claw.
Giuntoli: I enjoy playing larger arcs, I think it’s harder for audiences to jump in, but as an actor you have more to ground yourself in. Eve is an interesting situation. Nick is stupefied, and shaken to his core seeing that she’s no longer Juliette. It hurts him every time he sees her. It’s this woman who’s dead. It’s love of his life who’s gone. She’s a foot away but it’s a different person. And we’ve got an interesting situation because I don’t think Nicky wants Eve to know about Adaline, but does Eve have a soul right now? I think the fans on twitter are creating teams (like Team Jacob). I think the Eve/Adaline pairing is most popular. Eve lost some fans when she burnt down the trailer. But if Juliette came back, fans wouldn’t know who to root for. I see Eve as a different character entirely, she went off with this covert force and she comes back in wigs, and with little memory of me.
David Greenwalt: We started with more Monster of the week shows to make the show palatable to people so they didn’t have to know everything, it was also proof of concept, and when we hit episode 13, which for all we knew was going to be our last episode, the one where we morphed Hitler into a Blutbad, and ewe thought if we were going to go out, why not go out with that? Jim’s very interesting in history and we use a lot of World War I and World War II in the show, but inevitably the characters become more interesting and they grow and they change, and so that becomes more of an arc. But we’ve tried to keep both going, and at the end of every season we try to go back to the characters. We like doing them both.
Jim: It’s fun for us to switch it up.
Reggie Lee: I love it. In five seasons you get used to you your lane. Last season and earlier this season I was working as much as Reggie and David, because I was finally included, so that was fun. But now it’s a whole different person and life. And with this diversity issue that’s come about, it’s great they’ve found a new avenue, something different. I wasn’t even supposed to be on the show, I was auditioning for Russell’s part, but they called and wrote a role for me.
Sasha Roiz: So far, things start with a bang and I have taken a backseat. The machinations will reveal themselves, and I like the insurgency that’s happening worldwide. And what’s happening in the world, extremism of every kind, I think it ties in pretty well. These episodes coming up, they answer all the little nuggets that have come up. Sometimes it’s difficult not to be heavily involved, we’re like these racehorses ready to take off, so you keep yourself idle and ready to play. But I’m not a fan of screen time for the sake of it, I’d rather have two cameos than just be on the screen the entire time, I’d rather have interesting scene to play.
Bree Turner: You have to keep track because it jumps around. I like both, I like flushing out a storyline, and maybe get closure, you get to build on the history, but prestige (one-off) roles are a blast, like when we had the loch ness monster. It was a really, fun campy episode. So in terms of storytelling, they’re both fun.
Silas Weir Mitchell: All shows have an A story and B story. I remember this primarily with The X-Files, when they did those mythology episodes, that’s kind of a macro version of a monster of the week, and I think any good show that’s been around for a while has to do both. But this year they said This is the story of the season. There’s going to be an uprising and there’s going to be a defense against that uprising, and our heroes will be caught in the middle.
Bree: And even with the procedurals, they link back into the season arc. Which I like so it doesn’t feel so separate, like Vienna and Portland. This feels connected.
Silas: The problem for us is that we shoot things weeks apart, but events happen in a shorter period of time. We’ve aged twice as much as the characters should have. For the characters it’s been three years, for us it’s been five and a half.
Bree: Oh my god, I looked at some of the pictures they took when we started the show, on the house set, there are photographed taken on my first day on set. And I don’t know who that person is.
Silas: It’s like a time capsule.
Bree: The best way to gauge time is with David’s hair. It’s like lego hair. He’s so handsome we can make fun of him.
4. On using the show to comment on the real world
With Black Claw, Grimm is able to say something about the rise of extremism in the real world through the lens of Wesens.
Giuntoli: We’re definitely mirroring some of the extremism going on in the world, and we have an organization Black Claw that seems to be mirroring certain middle Eastern organization. But wesen can be a metaphor for whatever we want.
Greenwalt: I think it’s there naturally because it’s in the atmosphere, but we didn’t run Renard for mayor because it’s an election year, but because it’s fun to write debate scenes for him and it’s fun to see how they go about trying to nefariously try and win the election.
Kouf: And that is based on history because Hitler and Mussolini did start by being elected to office. And from that point on took over, so that’s what we’re tapping into, and we’re tapping into the rise of ISIS, the rise of anyone who’s been beaten down and rises up. And we explore religion a little bit with a preacher who takes advantage of his wesen-ness.
5. On Couples
The show has had love stories that have involved Giuntoli, Tulloch, Claire Coffee, and Roiz, so what’s going to happen now that Nick and Adaline are shacked up?
Tulloch: There are going to be some flashbacks for sure, but it’s very much a conscious decision for Eve not to think about her past. She’s not going to think about it unless it’s going to help in the present on a mission. For the time being (there’s no love triangle), but I’d be shocked if they don’t play with it because most of my comments on Social media have been “Are Nick and Eve going to get together?” And I’m like “Nothing as of yet,” but I’d be shocked if that doesn’t come into play.
Claire Coffee: I’ve been able to take the time in between losing powers, getting pregnant again and having a new child and really figuring out my relationship with Nick, I had a lot of time to breathe before things got before things got to be “oh we’re a couple” because we’re still not a couple and I think it’s incredibly complicated, as it would be in real life if you had two former enemies shacking up together. David and I are really trying to make it work, make it real. It’s so complicated, which is so fun to play. Juliette and Eve comes back into the picture for them as well. There’s lots of turmoil.
Roiz: I never have love interests, I have lust interests. And this year is no different. I’m about to go in there and get shirtless. It keeps me far too much in the gym. It’s fine, I’d like to enjoy a couple dinners out every once in a while, especially in this town, but it’s fine.
6. On Adaline
The Women of Grimm are the ones who often have the most radical changes of character, as Claire Coffee’s Adaline has gone from being Nick’s biggest enemy to his love. That must have been challenging. And, as to be expecting, things could change at any minute.
Claire Coffee: So finally Adaline gets out of the bunker and she’s started to come back to work, she comes out just as things are about to get really dangerous out there. She finds herself at the crossroads of this Black Claw business as well. It goes bat-shit cray town in episode 19 (Friday’s episode).
But maybe there’s some hope for the character.
Coffee: Silas was talking about this, we really are such a big family up here, that camp environment, we were away from home when we started this and now this is home. I think they do start writing you into the situation. Hopefully I won’t become a complete bitch again. I think the great thing now is that after everything that’s happened to Adaline, now that she’s got her powers back, it’s a much more multifaceted evil than it was before, and trying to not let the Hexenbiest control her. We get a lot more of her backstory, and Adaline has definitely grown. A little more human.
7. On night shoots
The visit meant that we got to see Giuntoli, Hornsby and Lee shoot the end of episode 18, the just aired “Good to the Bone,” where we first see Lee turn into a creature. While there we got to talk to all three, and see the stunt performer who played the “Neander-Wu” as he was known on set.
Giuntoli: We’re shooting a scene were Woo is in peril. Woo’s turning into a creature, so that will be wild.
Lee: It’s so interesting when we do this, because everyone thinks it’s a big scene, but it’s snippets. They do a scene where I turn into a monster, but that’s not monster of the week. He’s not wesen at all. He just goes back in time evolution-wise. They’ve written him in the script as Neander-wu. Wu is laid back and sarcastic, sardonic, this guy’s primal. And they don’t know if it’s permanent or not. I got the next script and it’s called “Taming of the Wu” and I’m shooting up to the moment when we start on the next one when they change me to be not of the human species. How does that person think, how do they feel? But that’s what you’ve got to prep for. It’s fun.
Lee: This season there seems to be a few big Wu episodes, starting with this one. It started before when I get scratched by a werewolf. I can’t obviously turn wesen because it’s not in my heritage. But this is something they haven’t encountered, so in terms of the entire arc of the show, this is different. This only happens on a full moon.
Shooting nights sucks, according to Hornsby.
Hornsby: Hell yeah I prefer working indoors. It’s cold and most of the time you’re lucky if it’s not raining. Yesterday we had to run and chase the bad guy, and I had a Danny Glover moment of “I’m too old for this shit.” But this is where David and I live. I feel like it’s always been he and I. Sometimes he goes rogue, but I think now they’ve set it up as the Scooby gang, the four horseman sort of thing. Party of five. Nick also has these matters of the heart, but he always gets screwed. Whenever women come back in the picture something wicked this way comes. It’s a fun dynamic. It throws the scent off a little bit.
8. Grimm: Austin?
I asked the creators about a possible spin-off. It seems unlikely.
David: We have thought about it.
Jim: I don’t think the show’s been big enough to pursue that, and I don’t think we could have done it.
David: It’s pretty time consuming, people ask us what else we’re working on, and we say It’s Grimm.
9. David Giuntoli’s favorite wesen
Giuntoli: I always was a big fan of Krampus, cause that guy was just weird. Usually I meet the character in the make-up trailer and I see it, and his name is Joey and we talk about LA and then we go fight each other. This guy, I never met him, he’s like eight feet tall, he’s a good actor, he’s like Santa with horns, and he came off as pervy and he wanted to eat kids. I never met him so I bought into the character. I have no idea what he looked like outside of the make-up.
10. How the sausage is made
Creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf opened up about how they go about writing a season.
Kouf: We cry a lot in the beginning.
Greenwalt: Jim has a nice cattle ranch in Montana and we go up there and sometimes bring the writers and spend a week and just let stuff percolate. Then we get a general image and it’s sort of in blocks, in quarters. In the first year, we knew Nick’s mom would come back, and usually we know what’s going to happen to Nick. Generally Nick doesn’t change, but as you’ve seen Juliette has, Renard has a big change.
Kouf: But you get thrown some big wrenches too, sometimes you think you’re going in one direction, and suddenly a gear falls out. We had stuff for Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio to do, but she said I can’t come to Portland anymore, which meant we had to kill her.
Greenwalt: But we used her head.
Kouf: So that changed the course of the show.
Greenwalt: We don’t have a strong blueprint, we really write scene to scene, which is how life is. We’re slaves to the character. We have general ideas for season six, but we’ll do the heavy lifting when we go to the ranch.
Kouf: We have an idea for an end game just in case the plug gets pulled.
Do they ever course correct?
Kouf: That happens in episodes. Episode 20 wasn’t working so we had to re-write the whole thing. But that’s like the wrenches.
Greenwalt: Bree got pregnant, and then Claire got pregnant for real after she had had a baby on the show so it was like “let’s use it. It’s too good not to use.”
Kouf: We roll with the punches.
11. On Wogeing
Being on set we got to see Coffee show her wesen stripes without any CG, and we got to see that there’s the head move, but also some facial contortions to it.
Coffee: I don’t know if I’ve perfected the move yet. I remember in the pilot thinking of it as a shrug. The way it was described to me best was that it’s an emotional response so it’s not something you want to happen. It’s like blushing, you almost want to hide it, but for me it’s like cracking your knuckles. The presentational is different, it requires a little more swagger.
12. On Andrew Wu
As fans know, it was until relatively recently that Reggie Lee’s Sgt. Wu got a first name. Originally Wu wasn’t in the pilot, but the creators like Lee so much they wrote a role for him, one that’s gotten bigger as the show’s gone on.
Lee: It was frustrating when you see script comes out and you’ve got little, but you’re on a great show. But I’m a cop, I’ve been a cop for twenty years, so how do you play that? I enjoyed the little things I did because I could make them more real, where they all this stuff they had to learn for eight days and just go at it, whereas I had time to sink my teeth in. I had more time to make him three dimensional. It’s about taking the time. I came from a world of film, so I knew there was a longer process of development if we go for a while. He’s the everyman. He gets freaked out. But now it’s a whole different thing. But I was never in collaboration with them on building the character. I had one line in the pilot and I went from there. When Nick bumps in to him and says “I should have worn my airbags today.” And I went from there, “Oh this guy’s sarcastic,” so I researched sarcastic people, and I found that they’re insecure. So I built from there. If I’m going to be a cop, I want to know how to be a cop. That’s the fun of it. I still find different facets all the time.
13. Hamilton is huge on set all because of Russell Hornsby.
One thing the cast talked about a lot was the musical Hamilton, and it seems that it was Hornsby who spread the gospel.
Hornsby: I had the good fortune of going to the workshop back in 2014 and I came back here and I told them about it, and said “guys, this musical it’s going to hit and it’s going to be fire.” I was there in the beginning and was singing its praises for months. I think Sasha said “What if I don’t like it?” I said “Then there’s something wrong with you.” Like Mad Max Fury Road, it should at least be respected. You should listen to it first, so you get all the references, and it’s a hard ticket to get, but you’d be in a tailspin trying to get your head around it if you’re experiencing it for the first time live.
14. Kelly Burkhardt
One of Coffee’s regular scene partners is Adaline’s newborn, and working with babies is great, it seems.
Coffee: It’s awesome working with babies because it means your scenes go quickly (laughs) and we’ve had eight different Kellys at this point, all equally adorable. Except for two they’ve all been girls. We’ve had very good luck with our infants.
15. David Giuntoli’s burner phone
When we met David on set he had just set up a burner phone so he could talk to fans between shots. It looks like he’s done doing this for the season, but he loves the fans, and you can tell by his twitter feed he likes to communicated with his audience.
Giuntoli: It crossed a thousand retweets, I thought of it myself. It won’t be every week, but it would be fun to hear their voices. I got a burner at 7/11. It’s turning into The Wire here.
16. Bitsie has her eye on one Eve wig.
Tulloch: I am dying for them to bring in this blue one that I love. It hasn’t been scripting yet. My second favorite is a black bob that feels like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.
17. Who thought of the title “Reptile Dysfunction”?
Kouf: That was our assistant Maggie. That is our favorite title. We also like “Nobody Knows the Trubel We’ve Seen.”
Greenwalt: “Organ Grinder,” back when we were grinding up organs was also great.
18. The Future
Sasha Roiz: It’s a machine. Our DVR numbers are outstanding. And we’re in syndication now, so we’re getting into more and more homes. I feel confident we have another year in us.
Grimm has been confirmed to get a season six, but it may be a reduced order of thirteen episodes. At the time, no one knew if there would be a season six, so we pried a little about what’s coming up. Giuntoli talked about a possible Renard showdown.
Giuntoli: I think if it was six five Sasha Roiz versus five foot nothing, hundred-nothing Davey G, we know who’d win. Captain’s doing some illicit things and calling my woman, and he knew about the assassination, he’s on Nick’s poop list now, so a smackdown is coming, a second smackdown, as we did that in Season 2. Maybe there is a little Grimm: Civil War going down.
The cast is usually kept in the dark about what’s coming up, though.
Coffee: The most challenging aspect for me is waiting for the scripts, because there’s so many cliffhangers, so it’s about waiting to find out what’s next. They give me no sense of the season, but it’s easier for us that way because I shouldn’t know. The most fun part is getting to work with everyone. Getting to be in Portland. My favorite part of the show is when we get to explain history, or look at going on in the world through the lens of wesen, and this season we’ve modernized that.
But will the Scooby squad ever reunite?
David: That could happen. This was big decision year one, do we let Hank in on it? And he can’t seem dumb. And we just didn’t want to say this is how the show works, and it always has to be this way.
Jim: You can’t have Hank say the same lines every week Gee, Nick, how did this happen?
David: It’s great to have him work with the group, but still the world doesn’t know about the majority of this stuff. You still have that.
Grimm airs Fridays at 9pm.