In NBC’s fantasy drama TV series Grimm, Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt and his boss Captain Renard have to uphold law and order in Portland, Oregon. Their agendas, however, are not quite the same, and both men have a secret to hide. Nick recently learned that he is descended from a centuries-old line of criminal profilers known as Grimms. They have taken up the fight to protect humanity from a race of supernatural creatures called Wesen, who involuntarily reveal their true selves to Nick. He is unaware that Renard is also able to recognize Wesen, and that is because he, too, is one. The captain belongs to a royal Wesen line and is working behind the scenes to return to the old ways.
This week’s episode, Three Coins in a Fuchsbau (airing Friday, March 2nd@ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on NBC), gives viewers further insight into both characters. In it, a failed jewelry store robbery results in a murder and sends Nick and his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), on a hunt for rare coins. Nick discovers that the coins have an unsettling effect on anyone who posses them, and Hank and Renard appear to have fallen under their influence. Meanwhile, a mysterious old friend of Aunt Marie’s (guest-star Titus Welliver) arrives in town with information on Nick’s past, including his parents’ death.
Earlier this week, Grimm’s David Giuntoli and Sasha Roiz took time out of their busy schedules to speak with myself as well as other journalists about their characters and working on the series. The following is an edited version of our Q & A. Enjoy!
Sasha, given where Captain Renard started as a character in the Grimm pilot, how have you been able to adapt and identify within the role as the show has gone on?
Sasha Roiz: Well, the character has developed quite a bit since the beginning. We've had much more freedom in that regard now that we’ve established the story of Grimm along with its characters and the world that they’re living in.
So we’ve been able to go a little deeper writing-wise, and as you saw in last week’s episode (Last Grimm Standing) and especially in the one coming up this week (Three Coins in a Fuchsbau), you'll get a real sense of who Renard is and sort of the direction in which he's going. It’s been a lot of fun from script to script and also to get a little bit more insight into the mythology of Grimm. So it's definitely starting to pick up the pace at this point.
David, given where Nick is at this point in the season, have you gained a better understanding of who he is as a Grimm through his own journey?
David Giuntoli: In this upcoming episode Nick's going to be learning a lot about his past, and it helps, I think, put some issues to bed for him, along with some worries he's always had and some things he's always wanted to know.
But yes, he understands his role a little bit more now. He's not as terrified by his new identity and is kind of using his “Grimm-stincts” as I like to call them and his powers as a tool now in order to function in that world.
This week's episode looks like a really strong one for both your characters. So what can you tell us about it and your experience working with (guest-star) Titus Welliver?
DG: First of all, Titus is a brilliant actor, and it was wonderful having him with us. His character brings Nick some news about his family and his past. I don't know how deep into it I can go, but sufficed to say I learned some big chunky pieces of info about Nick from Titus’ character. Captain Renard, goes through some pretty wild times in this episode, too. Do you want to talk about that, Sasha?
SR: They are wild times indeed, David, and, yes, like you said, Titus is great to work with. He's a terrific actor and it's really fun to have him on set. This episode is a really strong one, and I think we really sort of found our stride with it.
Several of the episodes now are starting to kind of be self-contained in a sense that a lot of the crimes or a lot of the sort of action and motivations keep feeding on the mythology in our storylines. In doing so, they just kind of help strengthen that whole side of our show, which is really exciting and with every new episode there are more and more details unfolding. So this is a really good example of the direction we're heading in.
David, the relationship between Nick and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) is an interesting one. In last week’s episode, your character really put himself in danger in order to save him. So can you talk about stepping in the ring with Silas Weir Mitchell and filming that fight scene?
DG: Oh, my God, that was one of the coldest nights we've had. We were up in the hills somewhere outside of Portland (Oregon), and those are the scenes that kind of shoot themselves because we had these wonderful actors who are really into the show and I think were excited to be there. It was insane, but in a good way.
Generally when you put me into an octagon shaped cage, I'm going to perform well, I would say...
SR: I always say you do some of your finest work in an octagon-shaped cage (he jokes).
DG: And I immediately agree with you every time you say that, Sasha (he jokes).
It was really fun to do those scenes. Monroe is a guy who Nick needed first for utility and just to learn the ropes of this new world he had entered into. Obviously, we've since developed a relationship/friendship and a bond. Monroe has saved Nick’s ass more than once, and my character dragged him a bit into this world, so, yes, Nick would put his life on the line for Monroe at this point.
So what do we have to look forward to in these episodes coming up and the second half of the season?
SR: Well, that's a good question. Like I mentioned earlier, we've been given a lot of freedom to explore the mythology and the back stories of the characters as well as the interpersonal relationships. So it's been tremendous fun for us to get to know our characters a bit better as well as each other and one another's characters.
So we're not quite as burdened by certain strictly procedural storylines. We get the chance to play a little bit of the Grimm map so to speak.
DG: Sasha is completely right. We're more comfortable in our roles now. We've laid the foundation for kind of defining what this Grimm world is, so now we kind of get to play within that.
There are going to be some upcoming episodes, especially this Friday’s Three Coins in a Fuchsbau, that really drives the overall storyline forward and answers some questions for my character and the viewers.
What was it like the first time that you read for your respective roles, and what were your first impressions of your characters during that initial read through?
DG: I had met and worked with Mark Buckland, who directed our pilot, and I had also met and worked with two of the producers, Sean Hayes and Todd Millner, before. So as opposed to a lot of kind of cold auditions, I kind of already felt that they were rooting for me, you know? I didn’t know what exactly they were looking for with my character, but they were very helpful and spent some time coaching me through the audition a bit.
My first take on Nick was that he was someone who wanted to go home and watch two movies with Juliette (Nick’s girlfriend, played by Bitsie Tulloch), and was very happy sitting down with a glass of wine and settling into a nice little life as opposed to going out drinking with the guys. And that makes what happened to him in the pilot episode all the more horrifying and terrible. The fact that he's seeing these monsters and the life he thought he once had is gone. Nick clings to that life, though, and wants very much for it to remain. However, it's very difficult to maintain this little domestic life while ogres and other monsters are chasing him.
SR: Initially I read for the Blutbad (wolf, played by Silas Weir Mitchell) way back when, and then they called me back weeks later for Renard. There wasn't very much on the page, so I really wasn't sure what they were calling me for. However, after they picked me for the role, they explained to me where they were planning on going with the character, and it then became a lot more interesting than what I saw in that initial script.
Originally, I think they were going in a very different direction with Renard. They were going a lot older and leaning more towards an African American. But they subsequently changed their casting decision and went in an all-together different direction with the character. I'm glad that they did and that they chose me, because, again, it's been a lot of fun. And they really held true to their promise on developing this role into something quite interesting.
My first question is for David. I wanted to find out perhaps you could talk a little bit about Nick's relationship with Juliette, how that has developed and just in your eyes where the writers are sort of taking that relationship as well.
DG: I don't know exactly where the writers are taking the relationship, but my feeling, and I believe this to be true, is that they're going in the direction where Nick wants her to marry him. At the same time, he wants Juliette to be safe and not to know about his current (Grimm) situation.
So he’s kind of always dancing that fine line of telling Juliette or not. Again, I think the writers want Nick to ask her to marry him and that he wants to be with her. However, as I said, I honestly don't know what's going to happen with them as this series goes on, but something has to happen soon insofar as Nick having to let her in. Otherwise, she has to leave him or something else has to happen.
Sasha, what perhaps were some of the initial acting challenges you found stepping into this role, and what have you enjoyed most about playing both sides of the fence so to speak with Renard?
SR: The hardest thing and one that continues to be a bit of a challenge as opposed to a burden is that when you're playing the sort of mysterious character is that a lot of the mystery isn't completely hatched. So sometimes you’re waiting around to be informed of what your machinations are and what you're actually motivated to be doing.
So you don't always know the grand picture until the writers provide you with it. That's sometimes a little difficult because you're sort of overreaching or trying to at least determine for yourself what the best sort of path is as your character proceeds.
When it comes to playing both sides of the fence, it's great. I don't see Renard as somebody who's duplicitous. Maybe some other people do, but I see him very much as someone who believes in a certain order and a very strict order with him at the top. He also really cares about the population of his canton, his kingdom or whatever we're defining it as. Renard wants peace and civil obedience within. He’ll stop at nothing to achieve that, which isn’t really all that uncharacteristic of a lot of nations, regimes or what have you.
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