If you’ve been a Grimm fan for any length of time, you’ve heard how much the various members of the cast and crew love their part-time home of Portland, where the show is filmed. Now, they’ve all come together to start the Grimmster Endowment, supporting OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. How awesome is it that they named the fund the nickname given to their fans? We spoke to Sasha Roiz, who plays Captain Sean Renard, about the endowment, the Grimm Gala coming up on February 7th in Portland, and the online auction of props from the Grimm set going on now – plus much more!
Sasha told us about the endowment:
I really appreciate your support and your interest in all this. I’ll just give you a quick background on the gala. It’s to benefit an endowment that we began over here in Portland at the Children’s Hospital, called the Doernbecher, and the endowment is called the Grimmster Fund, and it’s to help benefit the families that need any financial assistance.
About a year ago we started the fund and then for the past year have been working closely with Comcast and NBC, our production of Grimm, of course, and Nike, have all come together to help put together this gala for us which will be taking place February 7 in Portland.
We have amazing auction items, things from the set, props and costumes, as well as Nike pitched in and did an unbelievable one-time thing where they’ll do a limited run of 50 Nike pairs of Grimm shoes, specifically designed for us, some of them featuring the faces of the character on the shoe itself.
Those will be available at auction at the event as well as 400 fleeces, special Grimm designed fleeces, all designed by T. Hatfield, a very impressive name in Nike design. So we’re very excited for this event and it’s sold out, so it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to help us benefit this fund.
The online auction of a lot of the props and costumes and some of the drawings, one of a kind drawings, have all gone online and they’ll be available for bidding up until February 4.
The gala is sold out (if anyone’s going, can you pick me up some Nikes in a size 12? Thanks. 😉 ), but the online auction is open for everyone – check out the items available and place your bids HERE.
If you just want to donate to the Grimmster Fund, go HERE. Either way, know that your money is going to an amazing cause!
On to the Q&A!
At the end of the last episode, Juliette obviously came to talk to you now that she’s partly Hexenbiest. Is there anything you can tease about that?
This season has become kind of like the season of the Hexenbiest. It’s a hexenfeast, as I like to call it. There’s been my mom, there’s been myself, Juliette’s transformation, Adalind’s involvement and a lot of sort of magical developments; some good, some bad.
It’s definitely going to create havoc, as you could imagine. Certainly it already has for Juliette and now it slowly will trickle to everyone else. She’s come to me in that kind of partnership, and assistance is going to be imperative for her to try to understand who she is and how to navigate this uncharted water for her.
So, we’re going to become a little bit closer than I think Renard is comfortable.. far more than he’s comfortable. It’s going to be interesting to see how we walk this tightrope without falling back into any residual effects of that love potion a few seasons ago. So it’ll be definitely a fun story line.
Can you talk a bit about how the dynamic at the precinct is changing now that Wu’s involved?
It’s really interesting. It’s nice to have him on board. I like the dynamic as it’s slowly evolving with Wu in the know… of course now just keeping the rest of the precinct unaware.
But it’s fun to have yet another player who’s a police officer in it, because as you can see, we need all the help we can get because it’s starting to become unruly and far more than we can handle at this point.
It’s great to see the cast of Grimm giving back with the Grimmster Endowment for OHSU. It’s wonderful that you’re going to have this as something that goes forever. Can you talk about what other things do you like about Portland or have you guys found that you want to give back to?
It’s an amazing community and just goes to show – corporations as large as Comcast and NBC and Nike, who ostensibly seem like these just giant companies that are impersonal, are anything but. The people that I’ve met who have all come to assist us have gone beyond my expectations.
They have done so much in order to help put this together and help their own community. It’s really humbling, and I’m so grateful for it. It really is a testament to Portland and how strong a community there is here and how much they embraced us, and so that’s really the motivation to give back.
Because it’s been our home now for four years, and it really does feel like home now, and we really want to be a part of the fabric here and they’ve been so gracious in helping us accomplish that.
How are you liking the evolution of your character in the show? You’ve gone from villain to good guy.
Oh, I love it. Yes – and there’s probably room to go back to villain, too, and that’s what makes it so much fun. I don’t know, the audience doesn’t know – the writers keep me guessing as well as the fans. And that’s what makes it fun for me.
I like a character that is unpredictable, and I like as an actor being in that position where I don’t know from episode to episode, from season to season, what is expected of me and where my character may go, and it keeps me very interested and engaged.
Now that Juliette is coming up with these new powers, is there any chance that your mother somehow planned on this as a way to have a hold over finding out where Kelly and Diana are?
It’s a good question. I don’t know for sure, but you know, anything can happen. It’s like these characters have their own imaginations and agendas and it’s always interesting to see what happens. Again, the writers just keep us guessing so just when I think I kind of know where it’s all headed, I’m always left surprised. You never know who’s going to pop in, whose mom is going to pop in, or whose parents or cousins or uncles.
I’m still having a lot of trouble with members of my family and there’s a few more coming, some new ones, who are definitely going to make things even more difficult. There is an ongoing swell of activity and characters that keep coming in and out. So absolutely, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by who appears.
We haven’t spoken to you since the new season started. What was it like having that long summer hiatus where your life was literally hanging in the balance? Were you worried?
I think when that initial script turned up where I was shot… I always felt very confident that I was well positioned in this cast and that I wasn’t going anywhere, but at the same time I was thinking this would be really good as a story line if they did kill me off. I’d be terribly upset, but I’d understand.
But I did have at one point just a little panic attack. I went to our producer Jim Kouf when he was on set, and I pulled him aside and I just started. I said, hey by the way I just need to ask, and he immediately interrupted and he goes, you live. And I go, thank you. So I was put at ease so I wouldn’t have to sweat it out over the hiatus, and thankfully I just had a chance to enjoy myself and come back to work.
All of the fans would not have been happy if you had indeed died, so we’re very glad that you survived it.
Yes, I really enjoyed the pouring of support and absolute hysterics that were online, in support of the character, so it was fun to see that.
We don’t really hear a lot about casts in shows getting as involved as you guys are with this initiative. Have you seen anything like this before in your career or is this something that is sort of new even for you, to see a show and a network get so involved in a community initiative like this?
I hadn’t experienced it myself… not to say that it hasn’t happened before, but I don’t know of it myself. But this is just a really special experience we’re having, and I think it probably reflects that. We are a show that celebrates the city that we film in, both on set and off set.
We actually represent Portland – and I don’t think it’s really been quite as represented before. So we take pride in that and in turn the City takes great pride in the fact that they’re being represented – positively represented – by us, aside from all the murderers and monsters and things like that. But I think they enjoy that we ‘keep it weird,’ as they say.
This is four years now and hopefully we’ll have a few more, and so it has become home for all of us. Everybody else in the cast, they all do their share and they participate in the community in different charities and nonprofits that move them and speak to them, and it’s just been really just a symbiotic and natural evolution.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the children’s hospital and why you guys felt that they would be the best recipient for this endowment and for all the work that you guys are doing?
It’s an incredible hospital – OHSU is one of the premiere hospitals in the country and especially in this region where people come from bordering states, from all over the place, to be patients of this particular hospital because of its reputation.
We came to realize very quickly in our visits that a lot of these families put their lives on hold and on top of all the difficulties and emotional trauma that they have to deal in regards to their children, they spend months, weeks, years sometimes, going back and forth trying to rehabilitate their kids.
In addition to that, they have to bear the burden not just emotionally but financially, it can’t help but move you. So I think we just felt a certain connection to that cause, and the hospital and the staff are just tremendous and dedicated and it just spoke to us. I’m sure it’s not the only charity, not the only hospital that needs help, but we just kind of connected and were happy to be able to assist.
What do you like the most about your character?
Well, like I mentioned before, I like the ambiguity, the sort of moral ambiguity that you can’t quite predict this guy – and even myself as an actor I can’t predict it because the scripts keep me guessing.
But I also like how he keeps his cards close to the vest, and you see him thinking, you see him constantly planning and scheming and just sort of trying to appraise the situation and how to best deal with it.
But you never quite know what his move is going to be, so it’s a very interesting, kind of like master chess player. And I love that about him. He’s working on so many levels at once, and it’s really fun to enact that.
Can you talk about your upcoming theatrical endeavor with Portland Center Stage doing Three Days of Rain with Silas Mitchell?
We’re very excited, Silas and I have been wanting to do theater for a long time. We came from the theater, but it’s just been years since we’ve had a chance to set foot back on the stage, so fortunately it worked out. It was the last slot in their season and it coincided with our break, so it just worked out perfectly.
It’ll be directed by their artistic director whose name is Chris Coleman – a very, very talented director. It’s a three hander, so we’re going to audition the female role and we’re going to get started in rehearsals in late April, and I think we open around mid-May.
So we’re thrilled. Silas and I love working together, and unfortunately we don’t have a lot of scenes together. Over the years we’ve only worked together maybe a handful of times, and we’re looking forward to it because we’re very different actors, very different energies, but I think we really complement each other, so it’s going to be a really interesting endeavor.
Is there anything else that you can tease for us about this second half of the season – new Wesen, new twists and turns, anything that people are really going to be surprised about – without spoilers obviously?
Yes, there’s always Wesen. That’s one thing you can always rely on us for, there’s always some new creative and sometimes, like the current episode we’re filming, really weird new ones, like to the point that you’re scratching your head going, how did they turn that into a Wesen?
You’ll see what I’m talking about, I guarantee, you’ll look after episode 16. But there’re always residuals to everything. Every decision on Grimm comes with repercussions.
So my life-saving experience is definitely going to kind of come back and reek a little havoc for me because it’s not without its residual effects, and you’ll see slowly with Renard suffering from some of those residuals. As well there are issues with more family members coming over and creating a lot of trouble for him.
It’s getting progressively more and more heated, both life threatening and the politics become a lot more heated and the dynamics from the characters, obviously with Juliette’s new found, Hexenbiest status, this is going to change things for everybody. So Renard gets caught in the middle of all of that, and it becomes really difficult for him as the season progresses.
For the Wesen, how does it work when they give you a script? Do they give you a description about what this particular Wesen is going to look like? Do you get a drawing or do you just have to wait until the show actually airs to see kind of how it all works out with the special effects?
It’s a combination. There’s the description in the script, which is never more than really just a sort of brief description of what kind of animal or creature it’s based on. Then there’re definitely some drawings, some artistic renderings that you can look at.
Sometimes visual effects will come with their particular take on it and give you a chance to look at it so you can envision what it’s going to be. If we have the time, then our makeup team, which is remarkable as you have seen, comes in and does all the prosthetics and then you get to look at it firsthand, which is always incredibly impressive.
What first drew you to the role of Captain Renard?
Right, well, employment first drew me to the role, I really wanted to be employed. But beyond that it was… I’m just being facetious. It was working with Jim and David – they have such an incredible resume and such great success with so many shows that I’ve enjoyed.
They really know how to piece together an amazing ensemble, and they thought that this character would be a really interesting player in this ensemble, and they assured me of some amazing arcs and story lines and evolutions for him and they’ve come through. So I think I made a good choice.
Being four seasons on, what is it about the role of Renard that you find challenging or do you find easier now that you’ve been doing it for a while?
The thing that remains challenging is that it’s one of the characters that keeps getting developed. As an audience member, you can probably attest to that. You don’t know his back story and it slowly unfolds as the season goes on.
You start to realize that he’s a prince, that he’s a Wesen, that he’s got all this family, that all these things about him become revealed from season to season.
Now those things are not necessarily revealed to me four seasons in advance, so I always have to kind of, as an actor, keep a certain portion of the character uncommitted, meaning when they bring something in, I can still fit that into the makeup of this individual.
So that’s been the most challenging part, but at the same time, it’s a really fun thing. I can tell you with every development that you’ve seen I’ve been equally surprised. Oh, I’ve got a mom, oh, I have a dad, I have a cousin, a brother, I’m a prince. I didn’t even know until the second season that I was Wesen. So all these things get layered from season to season, and it’s really challenging and exciting.
What aspect of Renard do you relate to? Is there anything about him that’s like you as a person?
Sure. I think we all have parts of our characters that resonate with us. I think to some extent being an outsider. To some extent, not fitting in. These are qualities that we can all relate to.
Certainly, issues of identity or issues of belonging, these are things that resonate with me and I’m sure with a lot of viewers. I think that’s what makes him a very interesting and sympathetic character at times.
Even when he’s being as harsh as he is, you realize that there’s something fueling that that comes from a place of pain. I think that’s something that as a human being, you can certainly relate to whether it’s me acting it or you watching it.
A lot of female readers and a couple male readers wanted to know when you’re going to take your shirt off again this season.
There’s a lot of that coming up.
You’ve become a sex symbol – how does that feel?
It feels, on the one hand, very flattering – and on the other hand, it’s a tremendous amount of pressure. I feel like every day, I’m like, when am I going to the gym?
Like it’s just all about the gym and my caloric intake and it’s all these things, very pressing, much more so than perhaps I would enjoy. But it’s definitely an interesting aspect of the job, and I’ve come to embrace it. It’s not a bad place to be in my 40s.
Thanks again to Sasha for his time, and remember – you can bid for items in the online auction HERE until February 4th and donate to the Grimmster Endowment at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital anytime HERE. Go #GrimmGives!