Interview with Grimm’s Sasha Roiz and Claire Coffee

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We were very grateful to get the chance to chat with Sasha Roiz, aka Captain Sean Renard, and Claire Coffee, who plays Adalind Schade, just before the Grimm Season 3 Finale! Read on to learn more about the “sickeningly codependent relationship” between Renard and Adalind, as well as some of the possibilities for Season 4!

Grimm - Season 3

Obviously Renard sort of betrayed your character, Claire, with taking the baby and everything.    And now with what she’s done to him – taking the potion and everything – do you think that they can kind of forgive each other again? Because they keep screwing each other over.

Claire:  Yes, they really do have kind of a sickeningly codependent relationship. I don’t know that there’s ever really forgiveness or ultimate trust. But it does seem like the playing field is a little bit leveled with what they’ve done to each other.
Sasha:  Yes, she certainly has a way with Renard. And I think there’s always a possibility of them finding their way back to each other to some extent. But you know, there’s going to be that bond between them always because of that baby.
Claire:  They’re doing it for the child, trying to…stay together for the child.

How far in advance do you guys know what’s coming for your character?

Claire:  Not very far.
Sasha:   No.
Claire:  Shockingly close to when it actually happens. And you know the – I think Jim and David are really good at keeping all of this from us. Because you know, things change and I think if we knew too far in advance it just subconsciously starts changing the way you’re playing the character.
Sasha:  We probably get scripts at most two weeks before we shoot it.

More than any other character this season, Claire, your character seems to have gone through an incredible range of emotions. How was that to play? Because you got to touch on pretty much everything.

Claire: Yes, I was telling Jim and David just how grateful I was. It’s kind of like going back to theater school where… it’s like just a massive exercise in exploring the range of human emotions. Yes, I think over those three episodes I got to play every single one of them. So I just consider myself lucky and hope that I didn’t drop the ball.

Is it easier for you to play where she’s scared or upset, or where she’s in a rage and is ready to act out?

Claire: I don’t know that any one is easier or harder. Anything that requires a lot of emotion, be it rage or pain, is exhausting after a while. It’s because of the energy level – it’s just taking a lot out of you. So yes, it was definitely an exhausting two weeks.

Why do either of you think that the show is still so popular? Grimm seems to keep going on and everybody’s having such a good time with it.

Sasha: I hope because to some extent the characters are intriguing and relatable. And I give the writers a lot of credit – I think they come up with some incredibly compelling storylines.
Claire: I think there’s a lot of action each episode – the ticking clock of the episode itself and the monster of the week and figuring out the case of the week.
But at the same time, you have this royal storyline that’s serialized, and you follow that through the season, and so I think all those cliffhangers help keep people coming back.

For those of us who haven’t seen the finale, Claire, what can you tell us without giving too much away about her big plan?
And also Sasha – what is Renard going to do about it? Because he obviously knows she’s up to something.

Sasha: Claire?
Claire: She’s incredibly motivated to get her baby back. She’s got tunnel vision where that is concerned because I think she just feels a little bit aimless and lost without this child now that she’s learned how to love another human being.
So I don’t think she fully understands the ramifications of what she’s about to do, but she feels within her right to do it. And yes, it causes a massive rift in Nick and Juliette’s relationship and it changes them – maybe forever, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Sasha: I think that she, Adalind, has gone too far this time, and I think by the end of the episode Renard sees pure rage. And it could get pretty nasty between the two of them. But then again, there’s always some twists and turns along the way. But certainly you find him at his wits end with her.

We’ve yet to see Renard’s brother Eric’s body, and I’m never convinced a character is dead unless we see a body. Do either of you think he’s alive?

Sasha: I think you’re very…
Claire: I haven’t heard it…
Sasha: Go ahead Claire.
Claire: James Frain had some scheduling conflicts, but I know that the writers did have ideas about what to do with the character, and that he certainly wasn’t dead. But I don’t know, I haven’t actually given that too much thought. There’s been so many other things on the table.
Sasha: I can’t tell you with any certainty that he’s alive or dead, but I think your approach is probably quite a good one – unless you see the body you probably shouldn’t completely believe it. But then again, that’s all we know up to this point so we’ll have to wait and see. But yes, it’s Grimm, anything’s possible.

Claire, you mentioned a little earlier that your characters’ relationship was, “Sickeningly codependent,” which has kind of made it extra fun to watch this season. What was your favorite part about working together and creating an odd but exciting chemistry between you both? So the question’s for both of you actually.

Claire: Well, I don’t think we set out to create odd and exciting chemistry, but that’s a fabulous result, and a fabulously unexpected result.
I think you know, we do have a lot of fun working together. And Sasha’s just such a generous actor to work with. And I’m not saying that just because he’s on the other end of the line. But we’ll meet up before and kind of suss out what the situation is because we do find ourselves in some kind of outlandishly emotional places.
But I think the most fun, I mean obviously when he is without clothing, that was a pretty fun day on set.
Sasha: That was pretty funny. That was pretty funny.
Claire: Yes, I would say, “More funny than fun…”…for both of us because we’re both wearing various weird, flesh-colored underthings. But yes, it’s good that we are such good friends.
Sasha: Not the most flattering outfits.
Claire: Yes, it’s about the least flattering. If they could show behind the scenes – it’s the most unflattering that we’ve looked. But the movie magic makes it look so good.
Sasha: It’s funny how the sexiest scenes, behind the scenes are the least sexy things you’ve ever witnessed.
Yes, Claire and I have a lovely friendship on set, and I love working with her. And I think she’s done a tremendous job this season. Her character arc has been enormous and she’s really stepped up, and so it’s been fun to watch.
And also, their relationship is just so absolutely crazy that… it’s really fun to always be challenged with that. Because just when you think it can’t get any crazier, they manage to write something new in. So it always remains a little challenging, every single time we face off.

Sasha, could you could talk the wedding ring? Is there a tragic love affair in Renard’s past?

Sasha: I know that’s been a question posed by fans for like at least 2-3 years now, and a wonderful question. I wish I had the exact answer for you, but like all things Grimm, we kind of get around to answering all those questions with time. And I suspect that we’ll probably answer that one as well, soon.
For instance, even this season we answered the question of, “How does Nick see them and how do they know that he’s a Grimm?” So we get around to answering these little things.
But the real story I think is it’s probably a relic from a storyline that never got used and had to be scrapped at some point. When initially Renard came on the scene, I think it was considered that maybe he’d been married or widowed or something, and we never really got around to using that storyline. So I think we’ll probably owe you an answer at some point soon.

Grimm - Season 2

Both of you are on social media – are you looking forward to the instant fan feedback you’ll be receiving after the finale airs?

Claire: I just hope nobody knows where I live.
Sasha: Mm-hmm. It’s always fun to get the fan reaction. It’s really exciting to see how they respond.
Claire:  It’s one of my favorite things on Friday nights, live Tweeting and just getting that instant reply. And our fans are so funny and clever – and they really don’t let you get away with anything, which is nice.
But I’m a little terrified for this Friday, a little worried. I think people always say like, “Oh, we love to hate your character,” and it may just turn to like, “Oh we hate you so much.”

First of all, Sasha, there’s been so much back and forth with whether or not you and Nick really trust each other. It seems you guys are finding a better place, shall we say, not full trust. Do you see that changing in any respect now that the baby involvement happened?

Sasha: Sure. I don’t think we’re moving in any time soon. But I sense that wouldn’t this be just the perfect time to let him down. Well, that dynamic is always going to be a tenuous one, and I think it should be and we’ll see what happens. But I suspect that, you know, just as you feel comfortable, something probably will pull the rug from under your feet, as it should be, in my opinion.

Claire – I have to say that I have loved your character from the very beginning and just how mercurial she is.

Claire: That’s a great word for it.

She can be so sensitive and then also go crazy rage, which is just awesome. Is that fun for you to play?

Claire: Yes, yes, I mean I’m so lucky. I hope this job never ends.

I hope the same for you. You briefly mentioned that it seems like now she actually has someone that she loves finally. She’s figured that out. But how true do you think that really is – how much of it is still her? Is she driven by ambition or just a sense of revenge?

Claire: I don’t think it’s revenge, I think she really wants her baby back. Her baby gives her a place in the world really. Her relationship with Renard notwithstanding, she don’t have any allies, any friends, no job, like really nothing. She has…
Sasha: And whose fault is that, Claire?
Claire:  Yes, Sasha does have a point there. Everyone has such good memories around here. But she thinks that Viktor has her child. So everything that she does – she’s like someone with blind ambition – she’s not realizing that what she’s doing is going to affect everybody else. Nick, Juliette, Renard… to her the most important thing is this baby.
She doesn’t know that Nick and the gang took the baby. If she knew that then sure, revenge would come into play, I’m assuming. But at this point, it really is that she needs this child.

I have to say that the episode where the baby was taken away from her was just heartbreaking, and I just totally felt bad for her. She’s a villain – has that been a surprising shift for you, two sides of your character?

Claire: The writers really did such a good job with that arc, and really built it slowly enough so that the change kind of made sense and felt organic. At least it did for me when I was playing it.
And then to kind of round out the season, getting her back to a little bit of her old self and picking up. I had a conversation with [the writers] when I read all these scripts to figure out to play the character with parts of old Adalind and how much to incorporate with this new sense of empathy and feeling and being in love with this child. But I think they did such a great job balancing all of the bits of her personality.

And what’s she going to do when she finds out that Renard helped take the baby away?

Claire: I can’t imagine.
Sasha: If this is what she’s up to, and she doesn’t even know that little tidbit – could you imagine what she’s capable of?

Claire – how did you think Bitsie did taking on the role of Adalind in last episode and in the finale?

Claire: She did a great job, yes. I got to screen the finale, and she did a fantastic job. I probably owe half of my episode fee to Bitsie for that one. So yes, she was great. She wanted to  record me saying certain lines and wanted to get my walk down and little head movements. So yes, I thought she did a great job.

With regard to this new version with Adalind, we know that she very much wants to get her baby back. It looked for a minute when she first came in and was with Nick and Juliette that maybe she was turning a corner.
But now – it seems she is ultimately a villain. I’m wondering what your take on that is. Is she just a villain or is there more to her than that? Are there redeeming qualities that maybe we’ll see from her down the line?

Claire: She’s a more dangerous villain, I think, because she’s operating of her own accord, and she has this powerful motivation now. They say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I think she knows one way of getting what she wants – and that’s death and destruction via magic spells.
So she’s using what she knows, and I don’t think she’s ever going to be good, but I think she feels just and justified in what she’s doing and the steps she’s taking.

You’re a very likable actress, but you’re playing a very unlikable character. How do you make this character so that we put her in the right perspective, where we’re not rooting for her because we are rooting for you as an actress?

Claire: Well thank you for that, first of all. I try not to judge what she’s doing – I just try to figure out why she’s doing it. And I think it’s really important not to try to be liked – and actually just in real life, too. If you try to make people like you, like that’s the surest way to get people to hate you.
So I just try to do my thing and kind of be true to the character as best as I can. And hope that nobody starts throwing rocks.

For both of you – if it were up to you, is there something that you’d still really like to see happen for your characters that hasn’t yet?

Sasha: Well I’d like to survive Season 4.
Claire: I want to wear jeans.
Sasha: Such different objectives. “I’d like to survive,” “I’d want to wear jeans.” All right. That’s awesome. Yes, that would be my big objective. Thank you. Claire, you were talking about denim?
Claire: Yes, well… I was so happy to be in jeans for Season 4. I would love to have as comfortable a wardrobe as that – fewer skin tight pencil skirts, more sweaters.
Sasha: You rock those pencil skirts though, that’s your thing.
Claire: Thanks, thank you.

I wanted to go back a little bit, Claire, and find out if you could tell us a little bit of how you first became involved in Grimm and about the audition process for your role.

Claire: I actually just went on tape – it was a recurring character during pilot season. And I went on tape with Donna Rosenstein, who’s the Casting Director.
Then I got a call a few days later saying, “You’re in the mix,” which is always really frustrating, because it means it’s down to like three or four people, and you usually never get it, but you get your hopes up and then they’re dashed.
But then I got a call at like 8 o’clock on a Friday night – or maybe it was 9 o’clock, that would have been cool – and I was out at a bar with friends and they said, “You got it, you’re going to Portland.”
But I had no idea the scope of what the role was. They say, “Guest star, possibly recurring.” So you have no idea – a, if the show’s going to get picked up; or b, if they’re not – if they’re going to keep on with you. So yes… I was just lucky.

Sasha – I wanted to find out what maybe has surprised you most about the character of Renard this season, and what aspect of him maybe also have you enjoyed most playing this year.

Sasha: I certainly enjoyed the baby storyline. It was definitely fun to explore a different side, a paternal side, somebody more compassionate, concerned, and vulnerable consequently. So that was definitely a departure from how we see him in the past. And it was really fun to play in those emotions and to be challenged with them.

Thanks again to Claire and Sasha for taking the time to chat with us! We wish the entire cast and crew of Grimm a wonderful summer break, and we can’t wait to see all of them – and all of you Grimmsters – in the fall!

 

Vicki Dolenga