Sasha Roiz on ‘Grimm’ Season Four, Sex Symbols, and the Grimmster Fund

Sasha Roiz Grimm Midseason 4 Interview
Sasha Roiz as Captain Sean Renard in ‘Grimm’ (Photo by Scott Green / NBC)

Grimm season four has been loaded with game-changing events, from Sergeant Wu’s enlightenment to Juliette’s unexpected transformation. And in the middle of all the action is Captain Sean Renard, played by Sasha Roiz. With season four back underway after its mid-season break, Roiz took part in a conference call to discuss what’s happened this season thus far as well as a look at what’s in store for the remainder of the season.

Before taking part in the Q&A, Roiz took the opportunity to provide more details on the charity work he and his Grimm co-stars are involved in in Portland. “I’ll just give you a quick background on the gala,” said Roiz. “It’s to benefit an endowment that we began over here at 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 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 currently it’s sold out so it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to help us benefit this fund.”

Sasha Roiz Grimm Interview

Why did the Grimm team choose the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to throw their support behind?

Sasha Roiz: “Well, they’re 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 just 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 and so I think we just felt a certain connection to that cause. The hospital and the staff are just tremendous and dedicated and it just spoke to us. You know, I’m sure it’s not the only charity, not the only hospital that certainly needs help, but we just kind of connected and were happy to be able to assist.”

Juliette came to talk to you now that she’s partly Hexenbiest. Is there anything you can tease about that?

Sasha Roiz: “This season has become kind of like the season of the Hexenbiest. It’s a hexen-feast, 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 with and 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 scenes ago. Yes, so it’ll be definitely a fun storyline.”

Now that Juliette is has 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?

Sasha Roiz: “It’s a good question. I mean, I don’t know for sure but anything can happen. These characters have their own imaginations and agendas, and it’s always interesting to see what happens. 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 pumping in and out. So, absolutely, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by who appears.”

Can you talk a bit about how the dynamic at the precinct is changing now that Wu’s in on everything?

Sasha Roiz: “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, and of course now just keeping the rest of the precinct unaware. But it’s fun to have yet another player and, you know, a police officer in it because obviously we need all the help…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.”

How do you like the evolution of your character thus far?

Sasha Roiz: “Oh, I love this. 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. It keeps me very interested and engaged.”

What was it like having that long summer hiatus where your life was literally hanging in the balance? Were you worried?

Sasha Roiz: “Well, you know, 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 storyline 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 and I’d have to go to our producer Jim Kouf – one of our showrunners – at one point when he was on set I pulled him aside and I said, ‘Hey, by the way, I just need to ask…’ 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.”

Can you tease anything else about the second half of the season? Are there any new Wesen that we’re going to see or any twists and turns coming up that people are really going to be surprised about?

Sasha Roiz: “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’s always residuals to everything. Every decision on Grimm comes with repercussion, so my life-saving experience is definitely going to kind of come back and wreak a little havoc for me because it’s not without its residual effects, which 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.

And 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 newfound Hexenbiest status, this is going to change things for everybody. So I get caught – or Renard gets caught – in the middle of all of that and it becomes a really difficult seasons for him as the season progresses.”

Do the scripts give you a description of what each particular Wesen are going to look like? Do you get a drawing or do you just have to wait until the show actually airs to see how it all works out with the special effects?

Sasha Roiz: “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. And then there’s 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.”

Given that you’re now four seasons in, what is it about the role of Renard that you still find challenging? Or is it easier now that you’ve been doing it for a while?

Sasha Roiz: “Well 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, that you don’t know his backstory 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 like when they bring something in I can still fit that into the makeup of this individual. 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?

Sasha Roiz: “I think we all have parts of our characters that resonate with us. You know, I think being to some extent being an outsider, to some extent not fitting in, these are all 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.”

Fans have been asking when you’re going to take your shirt off again this season.

Sasha Roiz: “There’s a lot of that coming up.”

You’ve become a sex symbol. How does that feel?

Sasha Roiz: “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, certainly in my 40s, you know?”

-By Rebecca Murray

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Interview with Sasha Roiz from Comic Con 2014:

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