Reggie Lee and Sasha Roiz GRIMM Interview

     November 5, 2011

Both Reggie Lee and Sasha Roiz came into Grimm with characters that – in the pilot – are virtually non-existent. Roiz has a great moment toward the end, but Lee is someone who gets talked to. But when I met the duo for drinks at the Bridgeport Brewery in Portland, Oregon, they were in the midst of shooting their tenth episode, and were obviously happy where the characters went (and it wasn’t just the beers).

Grimm mixes fantasy with the procedural, and both Lee and Roiz play cops on the show, but Roiz has a secret that’s revealed in the pilot – he may not be in the home team when it comes to the world of Grimms, those who fight the monsters of legend. Check out our conversation after the jump.

reggie-lee-grimm-imageIt must be said that the duo were very gregarious, and it was a fun talk – though that may have been the beers. Here’s the breakdown of the conversation:

  • Where the two like to eat in Portland
  • Reggie Lee signed NDA’s to appear in The Dark Knight Rises
  • It’s rough going for Asian Americans during pilot season
  • Sasha Roiz’s character is a player in the world of the Grimms, having been in an authority position through his lineage
  • The show is more interested now in a more “one off” sensibility than going crazy with the mythology.

Collider: We’re supposed to talk about Portland a little bit, where are your favorite places to go here?

REGGIE LEE: I think we’re very all very similar in our taste, we’re all foodies.

SASHA ROIZ: The Willamette Week just came out with a restaurant guide, and I’ve been to most places on the list.

LEE:  I love Italian food, so one of my favorite places in Pizzata Italia. It is one of those restaurants where they all speak Italian. So fresh. Everything is local here.

ROIZ: My standard of life is much better up here. You forget things like how accessible the city is, I bought a bike – I haven’t had a bike in twenty years.

LEE: You don’t get this greenery in LA.

sasha-roiz-grimm-imageWe should probably talk about the show before I ask for Dark Knight Rises scoops.

LEE: We all had to sign NDA’s (laughs).

When did you get involved with the project?

LEE: Before March when we were testing for the shows. Our roles…

ROIZ: I had no idea what my role consisted of because it’s very minimal in the pilot, so they had to brief me on where it was going to. I think their concept of who the character was going to be changed because I was the only Caucasian in the room, and about twenty years younger.

LEE: And they were thinking about females, right?

ROIZ: Females or African Americans in their fifties. So I was like “what?” I showed up and looked at the clipboard, and everyone thought I was in the wrong room. But it worked out and it’s been great.

Grimm-imageHave you been going up for pilot season for a while now?

LEE: Sure, this particular time, yeah. As an Asian American at pilot season you take whatever there is. This year I tested for five different things, I tested for Hank, the role that Russell (Hornnsby) got. It was Russell that day and I was about to go test for two other pilots, one was Awake, which NBC also has and The River – which ABC has – and the creators called and said “is he still available, because we’d like to create a role for him.” So this was not supposed to be. I was in the same boat as him (Sasha) – not a lot in the pilot – so I said “what’s going to happen to this guy, because I need to know.” And they pitched me a wonderful story, so here we are.

You both have season arcs in this one, something that builds that may get paid off?

LEE: Yeah, I think there’s more to come in our personal lives.

I’ve seen the pilot, Sasha, you get the “oh shit” moment.

ROIZ: More’s a coming. Mine’s a bit of a tease, as the season progresses we give you a taste of it throughout to keep you guessing on who he is and what he’s about.

Grimm_image_NBCIt’s nice to see your character – like the main character – has the duality.

ROIZ: My character’s more seasoned in the fantastical world, a bit of a player, and he’s aware of the Grimm, but no one seems aware of who I am, except the people I want to be aware. It’s fun, and as we continue, there are always new things that are being developed. We don’t know where they’re going. We have a sense of the character, he comes from royal descent, his family has had ties for centuries and so on, and with every episode a little bit more is added to that story.

It feels like there’s a greater universe that will be fun to explore, but the show’s also a procedural.

LEE: It is that more than anything else, and you’ll see as we go on it remains a procedural, so the mythological elements are backburnered. I think they’ll come out eventually.

ROIZ: From what we’ve been told if there’s a back nine, that’s something we’ll explore but for now it’s more self-contained episodes.

LEE: There’s still a hint of the mythological, but I think the fun part becomes figuring out which fairy tale the story is. Sometimes I don’t figure it out until the end.

Grimm_image_NBCBoth of you have been involved with TV shows as reoccurring characters, how does this feel?

LEE: I think that the six of us are pretty tight, and since we’ve gone through so many experiences up to now it really helps when you’re working with each other – that chemistry – for me, the combination of being in Portland, this role, and what’s been said about it, this cast – couldn’t be happier. And the story by story I couldn’t be happier.

ROIZ: Mine is similar, we got lucky – you hear that a lot, sounds like hyperbole but it’s not. You’ve got an interesting demographic of actors – all seasoned, and yet open enough, very little ego – just mine really – to contend with, so it all adds up to a great experience. It’s too early to compare, hopefully we’ll keep going.

You’re in the middle in it.

ROIZ: We’re all looking to delve deeper into this world, and we’re all equally excited to have that unleashed.

Grimm_image_NBCLEE: You will see a definitive delineation in the characters, how they act and react to certain things. Eventually I think that will break, and you’ll see the blend. And once those characteristics are broken – but right now we’re trying to establish the characters.

In the last ten years, Television has changed so much, and now there’s a much more consistent sense of the world. Now they build these mythologies and watch every episode. With the procedural aspects you’ve got the one-off’s, so how does this work for you guys?

LEE:  I think the story a week element is what’s going to make this show thrive. I was part of a show called No Ordinary Family in which there was a through line that was seemingly going to go through the entire 22 episodes and that wasn’t going to work.

ROIZ: We’re a network show, we need eyeballs. In the beginning it’s easier to have self-contained episodes, with little gems throughout to hook you in, and as time progresses we’ll be able to grow.

Grimm-imageI have a theory where any show where the pilot is the best episode is generally a terrible TV show – Twin Peaks excepted. There’s something about how energies mesh and figuring out how a cast works together.

LEE: Oh God yeah.

ROIZ: We were talking about how we feel like it’s coming together. I’ve always say “if the pilot’s the best thing we’re in trouble.” But this keeps getting more and more interesting.

LEE: That’s why we were concerned with episode two, it’s got to top the pilot, I thought the pilot was good personally, but we’ve got to do better.

ROIZ: I’m never sure if NBC will show some of the gruesomeness, because it really is pushing the boundaries for nine o clock, I’ve got to say. It is nasty, nasty stuff.

Was there a reference point for you guys – a movie or a TV show – that they asked you to look at?

LEE: No, as a matter of fact, when I read the pilot I thought it was light like Buffy, but when we saw it, and when we were reading it, they said “no that’s not the direction we want to go. This is not lightly fluffy fare.”

ROIZ: I thought it would be quirkier, but it’s not.

LEE: But there are definitely moments of humor, which you need, but it’s very real I’m a big X-Files fan, so it reminds me of that.

ROIZ: And it keeps you on the edge. I’m not a horror guy, so it was 40 minutes of creep for me.