Grimm is a mash-up of police procedurals and supernatural shows, both of which are everywhere these days. What do you feel separates Grimm from the other shows?
It has these two worlds working in opposition. You have this fantasy contingent and then the real world, and they’re solving crimes, the way that we understand crime, but then there’s this undercurrent of, “What is this world and where are these people coming from?” That will be revealed throughout the course of the series. And it’s also pretty dark; it’s a Friday night show, and so they’re trying to make it as scary as possible for a network show.
When you’re little and you’re afraid of monsters under your bed, [Grimm] asks, what if those monsters really existed? What if kidnappers were actually trolls living under a bridge? ... It's not taking itself too seriously.
Yeah, the pilot episode centers on a Big Bad Wolf pedophile and murderer. It’s pretty "grim." Did watching that scare you?
No, I don’t get scared watching my own show because you know exactly what’s gone on to shoot it.
What do you think it is about the Pacific Northwest that lends itself to dark shows like Grimm and Twin Peaks and The Killing?
I guess the weather changes people’s moods. I really like the rain but everyone up there…it seems to be the main topic. “Just wait until it’s eight months of straight rain!” And the looks on their faces are just kind of dire and sad.
In Portland specifically, there’s this enormous kind of teenage homeless population, because there’s this huge meth problem. When I was there to shoot the pilot, the hotel was right in downtown, and around eight or nine at night you’d start hearing them screaming, or just yelling at each other, and it sounded and looked a bit like a zombie apocalypse. So I think that also adds to it.
That’s the weird thing, but mostly everybody in Portland is friendly, even these homeless kids, they seem pretty harmless, but just the look of it, everybody is tatted up, and a lot of piercings.
I find it odd that you enjoy rain, because a prolonged lack of sunshine definitely turns me into a bitter, hateful person. Do you think that living in that overcast environment might bring the homicidal sociopath out of people?
[Laughs.] I mean, it may, but Portland has the best coffee you’ll ever have in your entire life, so I’d say that helps to keep people’s spirits up even when it’s rainy and dark and cold. But maybe it’s just being cooped up for that long, because it’s such a gorgeous place and the parks are incredible, but if it’s raining you gotta stay inside. I think being cooped up anywhere could start to drive a person mad.
The show's protagonist cop, Nick, can see your character for the witch that she is. That quick flash is CGI, but have you gone through a lot of makeup?
No, it’s all CGI, and those guys are pretty incredible. The bad guys on the show, they show themselves to Nick, who’s a Grimm, so he can see all the creatures when they’re emotionally compromised. So anytime they’re stressed it brings out their true monster faces and they can’t hide it anymore. So we’ll do a take and then I’ll have to put these little tracking dots on my face and then they do a take for FX and morph me in the FX lab.
So you won’t have to endure sitting in a makeup chair for seven hours every morning?
I won’t. Some people do, some of the creatures, they have some pretty fantastic creature makeup going on. There’s this woman who gets stung by a bunch of bees and swells up and she walked into the makeup trailer and I was scared of this. They’d swollen her eyes shut and turned her into this swollen monster creature.
The idea of the evil next door is interesting. Do you know if Grimm is intended as a metaphor for the war on terror or anything else in particular?
I haven’t really thought about that. The part that’s so much fun and that makes for a great work day is the fantasy element. Like, when you’re little and you’re afraid of monsters under your bed, this show asks, what if those monsters really existed? What if kidnappers were actually trolls living under a bridge? It's fun because it plays to your imagination and lets you keep running with it. Hopefully we’ll give you a few nightmares.