Cascadia Composers May the Fourth

Creature Comforts: The joys of Grimm

The women of the hit TV show "Grimm" team up again to tell behind-the-scenes stories, interview special guests and share their love of Portland in their podcast, "The Grimmcast."

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Hannah R. Loyd, Bitsie Tulloch, Claire Coffee, and Silas Weir Mitchell in the Portland-made television series “Grimm.” Photo: NBC/Allyson Riggs/NBC © 2016 NBC Universal Media, LLC.

Once upon a time (in 2011, to be exact), a TV show called Grimm debuted on NBC, telling the story of a Portland police detective who learns that the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales were real, and that he’s part of a long line of descendants called upon to figure out how to fight  creatures who were part animal and part human, called Wesen.

Grimm captured a certain truth about the duality of human nature, and its grappling with topics of racism and fascism seems all too timely. But during its 2011-2017 run, it also captured a time of prosperity (for the fortunate among us, anyway) in Portland, when more people worked downtown and friends regularly met up at restaurants like the now defunct Lotus, Brasserie Montmartre and Raven & Rose.

Part of what made Grimm unique was how much the show immersed itself in its environment. Portland’s rain-slicked streets and moss-covered trees were intrinsic to the fairy-tale feeling of the show, and with the mostly 30-something cast moving here for much of the year, they spent a lot of time exploring the city together. Not only did it foster long-lasting friendships among the cast and crew, but it resulted in at least one marriage, with on-screen couple David Giuntoli and Bitsie Tulloch marrying in 2017.

Bree Turner and Silas Weir Mitchell in “Grimm.” Photo: NBC/Allyson Riggs/NBC © 2016 NBC Universal Media, LLC.

In The Grimmcast, the female stars of Grimm, Claire Coffee (Adalind Schade), Tulloch (Juliette Silverton) and Bree Turner (Rosalie Calvert), rewatch the series and post one podcast per episode, similar to the tweet-alongs the cast used to hold when new shows aired on Friday nights. They reminisce, get insights from special guests, and have lots to say about Portland, from where they lived to how much they love it here to how the city has changed over the past few years. But that’s nothing compared to the genuine affection the cast members share for one another: “The whole reason we’re doing the podcast is so we can also see each other every week,” Turner says.

I talked to Turner and Coffee to learn more about what they missed, what they learned and what the future could’ve held for characters Adalind and Rosalee:

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Do you remember what your first scene was together?

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Turner: I think you [Coffee] come to the spice shop for the first time. After years of working together, and you’re so comfortable and in love with each other, and then suddenly I was like, “Oh right – I’m supposed to be really suspicious” of Adalind. That was a tremendous acting day for me because I really had to pull out some chops.

Coffee: Our storylines did not cross until the end.

How often do you get back to Portland?

Coffee: Bree gets back more than I do. I think the last time I was there was last year.

Turner: I’m on the West Coast, so it’s easier for me. I go back at least twice a year. I had a full family life there with my kids. They were in school and had friends, and so I made friends outside of the job. So we go up with my kids to see their buddies and their old life together.

What are the places you always make sure to visit?

Turner: We lived in Northwest and then we moved to Southwest , so I know that section of town like the back of my hand. That’s where their preschool and elementary school was, and that’s where all the parks were. It was a very active time for the kids, so a lot of parks and walking and donuts and toy stores.

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Coffee: The zoo and the science center [OMSI]. We used to live right by the Rose Garden and you could take the bus up. Half of the fun was just the bus. We always try to go to Nostrana and Davenport, and Luce was one of my favorite spots. For shopping, I always do My Vintage Hawthorne and Frances May.

Turner: So much food, right? So much craft cocktailing and food and coffee and we just always have a good time.

Pip’s Original has named a donut after Grimm co-star Reggie Lee (the Dirty Wu donut is named for his character, Sergeant Wu). If you could have a dessert named after your characters, what would it be?

Turner: Rosalee does have a dessert drink in Portland, and it’s actually at Pip’s, but I don’t think very many people know about it. It’s called the Heart of Gold. And I remember when Nate, who owns Pip’s, reached out to me because he loved the character. And he did say to me, we’re putting together this spicy chai latte that warms your heart, but has some earth and has a little kick at the end. That’s a pretty good Rosalee description.

Coffee: Mine would be the Butterscotch Budino at Nostrana because it has the salty and sweet, so it incorporates Adalind’s incredible journey.

Turner: That’s actually Silas Weir Mitchell’s [who played Monroe on the show] favorite dessert.

Coffee: I think it’s my favorite food thing anywhere. It’s so good.

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Turner: That’s what he says.

If the show had continued, what kind of character arc would you like to have seen for your characters? What direction would you like to see them go in?

Turner: We ended the series with Rosalee and Monroe pregnant with their triplets. Obviously, that would have been really fun to have just met the kids and to see their domestic family life grow and all the complications and amazing moments with that. I would also like to have seen Rosalee as the face of the resistance. I think in season three, she confessed to Monroe that she comes from this long line of resistance fighters, these civil activists. That’s why she was able to have all this inside information when we were dealing with the royals.

Coffee: It would be interesting to see if there was another royal resurgence or some sort of faction of the Wesen world that gets more entrenched with the human world and more people starting to realize what’s going on: How would that affect dynamics like politics in Portland? Maybe that and the transformation that Wesen go through during puberty, when they come into their powers, and so it would be fun with one of our children to follow that journey and see what it really looks like.

How do you feel about your own kids watching the show?

Coffee: Cal can’t watch it. He’s so afraid. He saw a headshot of Adalind morphed and was almost mad at me that I had done that, like it was this betrayal. Like, how dare you? Why did you do this thing that was so scary?

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Turner: My kids haven’t watched. It was never on my radar to show them because they were so young when we were doing it. They’d come to set and they know everyone, but they haven’t ever seen it.

What would you say is the most significant thing you learned from your time doing Grimm?

Coffee: We really got to be so present with each other because we were together at a time in all of our lives pre-kid…You know, we were in relationships, but we were uprooted and in this place that was temporary or we never knew how long we had there, so it allowed us to be social and connected in a way that we wouldn’t otherwise, and be available to each other and game for hanging and supporting, and that has translated into these friendships that are so lasting. We were just so available for each other and just like how rewarding that still is.

Turner: Yeah, I totally agree. That was what I was going to say. How lucky we were, but we also knew how lucky we were. I think that’s also what Claire’s saying: We were all very different, but we all had just been working for a long time, we were around the same age and sort of around the same kind of moments and life experience. So we didn’t take it for granted. It was a moment in time and it really changed all of our lives.

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New episodes of “The Grimmcast” are available every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.   

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Valarie Smith incurred enormous credit card debt during the ’90s when she lived in NYC and tried to see as many Broadway/ Off Broadway/ Off-Off Broadway plays as she could despite her pittance of a salary. She is a fervent believer in the Edward Albee quote, “If you’re willing to fail interestingly, you tend to succeed interestingly.” Her top five favorite productions (so far) are: True West (Circle in the Square Theatre, 2000), King Henry IV, Part One (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2017), We’re All Mad Here (Shaking the Tree, 2017), Six Degrees of Separation (Lincoln Center, 1991) and Richard II (BAM, 2016).

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