One of the most beloved characters on NBC’s Grimm is the Wesen/Police Captain Renard. Sasha Roiz brings a charm and intensity to this character, whose motives and allegiances are still ambiguous. OHSOGRAY recently participated in a call with Roiz to discuss what is ahead now that Juliette has become a Hexenbiest, other upcoming twists in the season, and the fans’ devotion.
Grimm airs Fridays at 9/8c on NBC.
At the end of the last Grimm, Juliette came to talk to you now that she’s partly Hexenbiest. Is there anything you can tease about that?
Sasha Roiz: There is a – 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 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 scenes ago. Yes, so it’ll be definitely a fun story line.
Now that Juliette is coming up with these new powers, is there any chance that you’re mother somehow planned on this as a way to have a hold over getting 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 its 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 are 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.
How has the dynamic at the precinct changed now that Wu’s involved with the Grimm team?
Sasha Roiz: It’s really interesting. It’s nice to have him on board. I like the dynamic as it’s slowly kind of 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, and 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.
Are you enjoying the evolution of Renard? He’s gone from villain to good guy…
Sasha Roiz: Oh I love this. 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. 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.
What was it like having that long summer hiatus where Renard’s life was hanging in the balance? Were you worried?
Sasha Roiz: 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 and I’d have to go to our producer Jim Kouf one of our show runners and 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.
Fans would not have been happy if Renard died.
Sasha Roiz: Yes, I really enjoyed the [out]pouring of support and absolute hysterics, that were on-line in support of the character so it was fun to see that.
Is there anything else that you can tease for us about this second half of the season, any new Wesen that we’re going to see, any twists and turns coming up, anything 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 it’s, yes, there’s 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 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 is 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 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.
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 effect?
Sasha Roiz: It’s a combination, I mean, 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’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 and, yes, 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.
Now that you’re four seasons in, is Renard still a challenging character to portray?
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 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 like, 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. Right, because 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, I mean, how much is, is there anything about him that’s like you as a person?
Sasha Roiz: Sure. I mean, I think we all have parts of our characters that resonate with us. 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. And 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.
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.