There’s a lot of new craziness happening as Grimm comes back for the rest of Season 4, and a lot of it has to do with Juliette turning into a Hexenbiest! We just HAD to talk to Bitsie Tulloch, who plays Juliette, and find out more about this very unexpected change to the show.
You’ve gotten some really great scenes lately now that you get to be Wesen as well. Can you talk about that experience – getting into that character and also working with any special effects?
I just finished an interview and someone was asking how much fun was it to shoot the scene with Claire. And I said we really need to give credit where credit is due. Because it takes so much time to actually get into prosthetic makeup, we simply don’t have the time to do it.
So when the characters are morphed that was our stunt doubles. And also that was a really intense scene to film. The first time they started shooting it, Claire’s double fractured a rib. So we had to reshoot with a different double the next day.
What happens when we morph is that we’ll shoot the scene. Everybody kind of has a different way that they morph, like I have a little bit of a head toss and I hiss. I don’t know that anyone else really makes a sound. But I’ve always sort of interpreted it as snake like. When that happens, they apply little yellow drops with latex on top of our makeup. And then they’ll remove them and we’ll continue the scene.
So that’s what happens with the morphing. If you go onto my Instagram and my Twitter, I take pictures so that people can see what it looks like during the process of the VFX team going in and painting me in as Hexenbiest.
As far as psychologically, it has been such a great storyline because there’s such a push-pull with her. Where at first she really didn’t want it – she just wanted to have her normal life back. But now that she’s sort of learning how to control the Hexenbiest within, she’s realizing just how powerful this makes her.
As much as she’s been able to contribute to the Scooby squad as a veterinarian and then also as somebody sort of good with a gun – this is the first time that she has supernatural powers.
So it’s really the question going back and forth of: do I want to be normal again and be with Nick? Or do I want to stay a Hexenbiest because this is kind of fun? And I think the Hexenbiest are pretty wicked.
So she’s definitely going to the dark side and that’s the intention. I think that’s really where they’re going with the character at least in the immediate future and for the rest of the season.
Do you want her to stay Hexenbiest, just in your own opinion since you have to play it?
I think it’s pretty fun. I’ve had pretty crazy arcs for my character since Season 1. Season 1, she was rather passive in order to serve the story with Nick hiding everything from her. Then Season 2 she was in a coma and lost her memory, plus had this love triangle with Renard. In Season 3 she finally found out and was able to join the Grimm gang, and that was a really fun season.
But this really changed everything, and I was really thrilled when I saw the first script. We had no idea, and I remember texting with the cast. Everyone was like what?! This is so crazy; what an awesome idea. And yes, going forward it’s adding a new element to the series for sure.
In the scene with Nick from last Friday’s episode, he looks almost embarrassed at this point for all the things that have happened to Juliette as a result of him being a Grimm. Why do you suppose she continues to stay with him? How do they get over this latest wrinkle in their relationship?
I think the reason they’ve stayed together thus far is that there’s a lot of love there. It’s been one of the things in both of their lives that even though it’s wreaked a lot of havoc, you always go back home. I think he represents home for her and vice versa. They’ve so far managed to get through everything together, even if it’s been tough. So how are they going to handle this, because this is the craziest thing obviously they’ve had to deal with.
The Hexenbiest are basically – they’re mortal enemies of the Grimms. They just want to kill them and vice versa, which is why Juliette took so long to tell him the truth because she was terrified… that he would have a gut reaction and go after her and kill her.
Also, it’s been made apparent to her by this point that she’s incredibly powerful. More so than Adalind or Renard, who are both Hexenbiest, could ever dream of being. And she doesn’t know how to really control it yet. So if he started to attack her and she morphs into a Hexenbiest, could she kill him?
So I think that makes sense. But really the question going forward is – can they live like this or not? I think she’s kind of given up hope because she looks in the mirror and all she sees is this ugly monster. She hasn’t really embraced it yet. Juliette tried with Henrietta, and there seems to be no cure. But, it’s almost becoming like a Romeo and Juliet situation where, yes they’re in love – but they can’t really be together the way it is right now.
I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the collaboration with the writers. How much they have clued you in as to where this is going to go – if this is going to be a permanent thing or if it’s maybe going to resolve or change at some point, either later this season or next season?
That’s a really great question. Sometimes we know more and we have a little bit of a heads-up. Then sometimes I’ve found with the showrunners, Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, that they’re really open to ideas and stuff. It’s very much a collaborative process.
But a lot of the times stuff changes because the show moves pretty quickly. The episode that aired Friday night we shot in January. They go on Facebook. They go on social media. They see the stuff that the fans really like, and they’ll give them more of that. The Hexenbiest has been incredibly popular among the fans, so don’t expect that to be going anywhere anytime soon.
I think sometimes they like seeing the cast reaction to crazy storylines. I remember nobody knew… it was either the beginning of Season 2 or Season 3, whenever Hank found out. We were all like, wow that was early. We didn’t know he was going to find out that early, that Nick was going to tell him.
[Adalind being pregnant again] was another one that happened honestly, part of the reason that happened is that Claire Coffee actually got pregnant. Bree Turner was pregnant Season 2, and they shot around it. This time they were like, are we really going to shot around another pregnancy? Or is this actually kind of a blessing in disguise? We could add a new element to the show using her actual pregnancy. So sometimes stuff just pops up and they’re responding to it.
But the Hexenbiest thing I didn’t know about. The season finale for this season is the biggest game changer we have ever had. People will lose their minds. I don’t know what I can say without giving it away other than yes, we’ve never done anything this big on the show before. So that’s going to really change everything going into Season 5. The Juliette Hexenbiest storyline has a lot to do with that.
The reality is going forward, you’re going to see a lot of the push-pull with psychologically wanting this power. I think it adds a really interesting element to the story for her to turn really, really dark.
Let’s just step back a bit, if we can. If you could be any Wesen, which Wesen would you be?
Well, I like the Wesen I am right now, that’s for sure. It’s fun getting to walk into these scenes and basically just kick ass. And she has power over everyone. She’s just stronger and faster, and she could have easily killed Adalind if she wanted to. I don’t know that she was mentally prepared to do that yet. But so that’s been really fun.
Prior to becoming a Hexenbiest, my answer was always Mauvais Dentes, which was the saber tooth tiger from Season 2, just because I like how quiet and powerful and stealthy that character was. It always reminded me of that viral YouTube video of the Ninja cat who – you turn the camera away, and then it’s three feet closer to you. It’s just really spooky. So I used to say the Mauvais Dentes, but right now I’m obviously really enjoying this storyline as the Hexenbiest.
We know you can’t really give any big details away, but how big a role does Juliette have in the season finale?
Everything. She is going to cause major, major problems for basically everyone involved. She misses Nick and she loves him, but she just can’t imagine a way for them to be able to stay together under the circumstances.
She’s been told by numerous people now there’s absolutely nothing she can do about it. And so what else would you do? You have to embrace your new life, and she has to go forward with that. She is dead set on embracing it. She’s like, if this is how it’s going to be, then I might as well be the best Hexenbiest I can. There’s a darkness to that that’s going to seep into her veins, and you’re not going to see the sort of sweet, loving girlfriend that everybody’s gotten used to for the last few seasons.
You haven’t seen the last of the Royals – there’s a new Royal who’s coming to town, who’s kind of taking charge. Obviously dealing with the whole Adalind being pregnant storyline is coming up. As to whether or not the baby is going to have weird powers or how are you going to have a Wesen-Grimm baby… that’s just going to be like the weirdest baby ever. But Juliette is not pregnant.
It’s definitely a big episode when there is a final reveal with Juliette and her friends and their reaction. Then really it’s about her going to the dark side.
In the first couple of seasons, your character was really marginalized. Now you’re not just part of the group, you’re a dominant part of that group. So how has that changed your experience on the show?
Well, I’ve always had a blast on the show. They’ve always given me interesting things to do. I think Season 1 was probably the hardest for me because the character was so passive, and everybody else was kind of running around doing fun stuff.
But it also really served the storyline. Nick really needed to keep her in the dark, because he was himself so in the dark about what it meant to be a Grimm. Then Season 2 I had this great arc of losing my memory and not remembering Nick and that whole storyline, and then slowly Season 3 having the secret revealed and joining forces with the Scooby squad.
That’s always really fun because those scenes are really fun to shoot, because you have most of the cast together and everybody’s having a blast and chit-chatting in between scenes. But this has been really just cool because it’s the first time she’s had any sort of supernatural power. I personally have been having a blast with it. And it’s nice that they’re using Juliette – she’s coming in and she’s adding all the fuel to the fire.
So it’s sort of centered around the havoc that she’s causing among the group. I think especially going into Season 5 of a TV show, you need to really kind revamp stuff a little bit, keep it interesting. Have there be a game changer – and there certainly is a massive game changer at the end of Season 4 in the finale.
Moving into Season 5, with everything going on especially with the game changer that you’re talking about, do you see any characters moving to different locations outside of Portland?
I’m not sure about that. I can’t imagine that Grimm is really ever going to take place in any other city besides Portland. Portland is the perfect setting for this because the city in and of itself has not only these luscious forests, but there’s also a little bit of an eerie quality because the weather can be gray. You have these really thick forests and they get really dark during the day. Also, the city has been so great to us, and we love shooting here. We certainly haven’t run out of locations to shoot in.
I think, if anything, you might see a little bit more of a storyline with one character maybe going off to Europe or something. But otherwise I would imagine it would be pretty centered in Portland still.
You’ve talked quite a bit about what might be coming up with Juliette’s continuing changes. Do you see her losing her humanity through this? Is that going to be less and less of a quality?
I think that that’s it, yes… the more that sort of evil takes hold inside her and she realizes that there’s really nothing she can do to get back to her normal life. Like I said before, she really needs to embrace it.
This is not a human character anymore. She’s a witch. She is kind of a monster. But that’s her new reality. That’s the new normal for her, so to speak. So I think that, yes, if we’re going to a really, really dark place, then that is what it would entail.
So far we haven’t seen that all the characters know. Is she worried about reactions from Rosalee and Monroe in particular?
Yes, for sure. That’s something that’s going to be resolved and sort of played out through the rest of Season 4. Initially of course, she has to deal with Nick’s reaction. But yes.
It’s scary. Her friends have known her to be one way for this amount of time. They’ve all, as a group, collectively basically been hating on Hexenbiest for years. And now she is one.
The reality too is that there’s probably a little bit of resentment because they did this to her. They asked her to do this for them because Rosalee and Monroe were coming under so much fire. In order to protect them, Nick needed to get his Grimm powers back. The only way to do that was to use Juliette as a vessel, and she agreed to do it.
She would never have done that if she had known this would be the side effect. This was not something that she’s initially really excited about. I think that’s something that going forward is going to be pretty complicated.
Now that the role has become more involved physically, do you do any strength training for your fight scenes?
I work out. I’m an actress; I have to stay in shape anyway. The hardest physical stuff I’ve ever done myself was in a couple of episodes last season, I think episodes nine and ten where Juliette has a friend, Alicia, in town who’s being abused by her husband. And then the husband shows up and knocks Nick out – then Juliette has to jump in. And in that scene, I did a lot of my stunts. But I’m sure I will be asked to do more stunts. But the reality is when Juliette is doing most of the physical stuff, she’s morphed. And so that’s usually why they bring a double in who has the prosthetics on her face, so not necessarily.
David’s training constantly since he has the bulk of the physical stuff on the show. So he’s staying strong and active for that. But, going forward, if the character is having a lot more action to do, I probably would start doing more strength training as well. We have a really awesome stunt coordinator. He’s been nominated for Emmys twice for Grimm. There’s a lot of rehearsal. We’ll kind of start out doing something, and then our stunt doubles will step in and finish the scene.
College is such a fun time for young women, and you were able to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. How did your background in literature and fine arts from Harvard help prepare you for an acting career?
I don’t know that the fine arts has necessarily played into it that much, other than having I definitely have an awareness of lighting because my first concentration within fine arts was photography. I’m always asking, what frame is that, and how I am lit, and what’s my major light source? So I’m more aware of that. But that’s just a technical thing that actors tend to learn anyway. It’s this joke that actors can always find the light, and the actors can always find the camera.
As far as the literature major goes, I definitely think that I probably analyze the text in perhaps a more academic way. That’s something that, as I’ve acted I more and more, I sort of lose. But I read the script a couple of times, and I try to bring in past ways that the character has been influenced. But I don’t know that if I hadn’t been a literature major that I would do that kind of in-depth analysis. I loved college – and I was going to go and get my Masters degree in Fine Arts, but I took a year off. In that year off, I started acting, but that was never my intention. When I was at Harvard, I was really planning on getting an MFA in the Fine Arts, and I wanted to be a curator. So I started acting relatively late.
How is Juliette going to continue to get control of her Hexenbiest power? Will she be turning to anybody else that would be able to help her out with that?
I think that it’s an issue of time for her. It’s not like all of the sudden she’s overtaken by evil. It’s a very slow process of gradually losing the human side and becoming more and more of a Hexenbiest. The reality is she can’t really turn [to anyone]…she’s tried to turn to Henrietta. That didn’t yield anything, the same thing for Renard. The more she’s told there is nothing they can do, the more she doesn’t really have anyone to go to. So she’s definitely going to be finding herself ostracized to an extent… and that might make her mad.
How does Juliette handle that? It sounds like it’s going to be a lonely time.
Yes, for sure. Yes, I can’t really give anything away, but I think it’s enough to tease that going forward – this is not something that has an easy resolution.
You mentioned earlier how initially Juliette is sort of this… not quite like a damsel in distress. But she’s definitely a lot more vulnerable than she is when she assumes the Wesen form. From a performance standpoint, did it seem too drastically different or jarring when you went from the more passive Juliette to the very powerful Juliette? Or did it seem really fluid and natural?
I would say it was pretty jarring. The first time it happens, she’s been getting these headaches and stomach aches, and she’s like I don’t know if I’m pregnant – and then she morphs. It’s incredibly scary for her. She had no idea what was going on. She thought she was going crazy. Then every time it happens, she has this sudden rush of just power and violence… and she’s killed a couple of people.
Dealing with the aftermath of that… the two people that she’s killed so far were people who were trying to kill her. So there’s a little bit of “Wow, I was really able to defend myself. That’s kind of great – but also I just killed two people. And that’s insane and that’s crazy. And I’ve never done that before.”
But until she starts to embrace it and learn how to control it more, it’s very jarring every time it happens for her, and then to de-morph and kind of be human again. I don’t think it’s really intended, because she was made a Hexenbiest. She wasn’t born that way.
So it’s probably fluid for all the rest of the Wesen… for them to morph and to creature out or whatever. But this is the first time this happened to her. So I’ve never chosen to play it in a way where it should be really smooth. It should be a little disconcerting every single time.
Did you ever anticipate, when you first started as Juliette, that she may have become such a violent character?
It’s a really good question. At one point I remember saying, it would be so cool if they made her either super, super evil or super, super good and able to protect Nick. I was thinking maybe she’s been secretly protecting Nick all this time. Either that – or wouldn’t it be so cool if actually she has been evil all this time. Now we know she hasn’t been evil all this time. It’s something that happened. But I think it’s a really, really smart way to take the series going forward into Season 5… to have this character who we’ve all come to know and love as being sweet and helpful… and then just turning it on its head.
I want to forward some congratulations to you and the rest of the cast for the great work you guys all did. I know Sasha was behind it for the Grimmster Fund and the money you raised with that great event you had in February.
Oh, thank you. That was really exciting. We raised, I think, $310,000 for the Grimmster fund and Doernbecher Hospital that we’ve all volunteered at various points. We really love this city, and we’re grateful to be here – and a few of us own homes here. Some people are thinking about staying afterward, and so we really wanted to have a positive legacy on the city, since the city’s been so good to us.
Your Spanish is so wonderful. I hope there will be a time where you’ll have the chance to speak more Spanish. You clued us in on Chupacabra – hopefully there’s another legend coming down the pike as well.
I know, I loved that – and the show does exceptionally well in Central and South America. So the fans really like when I do get to speak Spanish. I really haven’t been able to speak much Spanish in this season, but hopefully going forward that comes back into play because that’s always fun for me.
How do you see your character being a strong female role model so far, and then moving forward?
I think she’s been less so in Season 1, when the storyline sort of necessitated her being slightly more passive. Being someone who is capable of holding her own, who is capable of learning this life-changing secret from her man, and [realizing] okay, there’s nothing we can’t do together. I can handle this. I’m going to help you in whatever way, shape or form I can. And also, really she’s contributed a lot to solving these cases.
There’s been a lot of fun scenes, especially in Season 3, where she was really into doing all this research and helping out with the veterinarian skills going forward.
I think as the Hexenbiest – I hope nobody really tries to do anything that Juliette’s doing as a Hexenbiest. But it’s always nice to have a very powerful female character, whether for good or evil… to just have someone who is very much in control, who is not relying on anybody else for anything. That’s one of the differences between Adalind and Juliette, that Adalind was really reliant on the Royals – and was sleeping around and stuff.
The Hexenbiest are sort of sexy witches. Everything that goes forward is going to be on her terms. So even if it’s evil – she’s doing it on her terms, and she’s in control of the situation, and she’s doing what she wants to do when she wants to do it.
Have you met any young women out there who have identified with your character or just fans of the show that have made an impression on you?
Oh yes. I’m very active on social media – on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. I try to reply whenever I can. I see a lot people saying I love how strong she is. I love how smart she is.
Especially, they’re really liking the Hexenbiest stuff, because they’re like, what a badass. You know you like seeing a woman walk into a scene and just kick butt and be more powerful than (the men around her).
And the manticore scene, that was something that Nick didn’t even think he was going to be able to deal with… and Juliette instantly took control of the situation and killed him. So I think there’s probably a little bit of cheering when stuff like that happens.
HUGE thanks to Bitsie for taking the time to talk to us! And don’t forget – Grimm is now on at 8/7 Central – you don’t want to miss an episode for the rest of the season!