Homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) must have one of the worst-kept secrets in Portland. He's a bona fide Grimm, which means Nick acts as a guardian against malevolent forces and monstrous creatures collectively known as Wesen. Nick's circle of friends and co-workers have unintentionally been introduced to his supernatural world, all to various reactions. That includes Nick's veterinarian girlfriend, Juliette Silverton, who believed he was crazy until his Wesen comrades proved her very, very wrong.
Actress Bitsie Tulloch, who plays Juliette on the third-year NBC series, spoke to Spinoff Online about Juliette's growing pains, getting rough with the Wesen and Grimm's recent renewal for a fourth season.
Spinoff Online: I'm sure you didn't take a fourth season for granted, but in some ways it was expected based on the quality of your show and the ratings. How satisfying is it to get that renewal?
Bitsie Tulloch: It's pretty amazing. As you said, it wasn't necessarily surprising. I'm proud to be on this show, not only because it's the kind of show I would have been watching even if I wasn't on it, but it's really true that it's gotten significantly better from season to season. Our showrunners have been amazing about listening to the fans and responding to the kind of stuff that the fans really like seeing more of. In Season 3 in particular, it's been this Scooby squad. They like that. Juliette is in the know now, helping out and adding to the gang. We've seen a lot more of that kind of stuff. Another thing the fans really seem to respond to and love is the mythology. That's something [executive producers] Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt are really good at. It's definitely moved away from being all procedural all the time to focusing on this Wesen family tree. I'm sure Season 4 is going to be better than Season 3. The final episode [of Season 3] is kick-ass. There's a really crazy twist.
Most series require time to establish their characters and premise. When do you feel Grimm hit its stride?
I think in Season 2. It makes sense in Season 1 that you're trying to gauge the temperature of the fans and the stuff the fans really want to see. In Season 2, they really dug more into the mythology and the relationships among the characters, which is something else the fans really like. A lot of it was a process of seeing which episodes had higher ratings. This is very interesting, and not surprising given how popular the show is internationally, but typically the episodes that have Spanish themes or fairy tales or where my character speaks Spanish, have always done really well. You'll see a little bit more of that.
Juliette was in the dark about Nick and his Grimm activities for almost two seasons. What did her finding out his secret mean for you as an actress and Juliette as a character?
For me as an actress, it was really exciting because for the most part, which serves the story, my character had to be a little passive in Season 1 and Season 2. In Season 1, a lot of the drama was coming from the fact that Nick's girlfriend of three years didn't know what was going on. In Season 2, a lot of the drama was that I woke from a coma, under a spell and in love with a man I barely knew, and then was slowly losing my mind and didn't remember Nick. All of that was leading to a character that wasn't necessarily helping out the hero.
At the end of Season 2, Juliette not only finds out [that Wesen exist], but believes it. In the penultimate episode of Season 2, Bud, Monroe and Rosalee morph for her. For Juliette, seeing is believing. She was thinking Nick was crazy, but when they actually morphed for her and she saw it, this was true and real.
As an actress, it's been really fun for me because I get to help out. There was a lot of stuff in Season 2 where I was by myself. I was either losing my mind or being in the hospital or being at home thinking I'm falling into an abyss. Even from a purely acting point of view, it's just been fun working with the gang, and the case, more as a group. We really enjoy each other and like being around each other. It's been a blast.
How thrilled were you to be showcasing a scrappier side of Juliette in "Eyes of the Beholder?" After all, she confronted a big, bad Wesen and took him down.
That was one of my favorites because I really like the physical stuff. I got to do some of that in the first two episodes of the season when we were fighting all the zombies. I got a kick out of that. Then that whole stunt sequence in "Eyes of the Beholder" was mine and I hadn't had a chance to do that before.
Our stunt coordinator [Matthew Taylor] was nominated for an Emmy for Grimm. He's awesome. It's very hard on your body. Because I hadn't done so many stunts before, I didn't realize the endorphins kick in. You're putting your body through a lot, but you don't realize it until the next day when you can barely walk because you've been jumping on someone over and over again. That fight scene took an entire day to film. I did about 90 percent of those stunts. My stunt double was barely even working because we rehearsed the day before over and over again. By the time we got to set the next day to shoot it, I was pretty prepared. It was a blast to film, especially because it's about women and protecting a woman who is being abused. It very much felt like "girl power."
Not only did Juliette discover one of her longtime friends was in an abusive relationship in that episode, but that she was a Wesen. Does anything faze Juliette anymore?
Yeah. There's going to be moments where she's fazed because the reality is this show needs to get bigger and badder. There will be things that happen that are going to make her want to throw in the towel. That's important for the storyline because it's real. It's human. Nobody thrown into those circumstances is just going to accept everything that's happening. Even Nick isn't cool with some of the stuff that happens, but for him it's more unavoidable.
Realistically, Juliette could walk away from this at any point. She's not because she loves Nick. She's not because I've always chosen to play a lot of those research scenes as Juliette geeking out. I always thought of Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's really fun and really exciting for her. One of the things Juliette is really good at is research. She's a bit of an academic nerd. For her, it's like playing detective. At the same time, could something theoretically happen that will make her want to walk away from it? Yeah, absolutely. When we shot that big fight scene and Juliette was so good at fighting, what the writers wanted to get across is that on the side, Nick has been training her how to fight, knowing she might get thrown into a situation like that one. This way, she was prepared.
Sgt. Wu (Reggie Lee) finally found out that Wesen exist, which resulted in a mental breakdown. Why was it so important that Juliette was the one who visited him in the psych ward to comfort him?
It's funny. In that episode, the Scooby gang all decide they are not going to tell Wu the truth. Juliette could have told him, but she chose not to. She's a very empathetic and thoughtful character. One of the reasons she was so patient and understanding with Nick all throughout Season 1 is he had just lost the woman who raised him. Could Hank really have gone and made Wu feel better? No. It had to be Juliette. I love that line where she said, "Hey, remember that time you came over and the gun had gone off? There was some crazy stuff going on in my head. And it gets better." That's one of my favorite scenes I've shot in the entire series.
You are currently filming the season finale. Where is the rest of the season heading?
The biggest thing is Adalind comes back and Nick's Mom comes back. As you can imagine, I basically want to kill Adalind. The last time I saw her, she put me in a coma and almost destroyed my life and my relationship with Nick. There's going to be a lot of drama about Adalind showing up with the baby. That's a great example of Juliette being like, "I don't think so. This is not happening. This is not going to fly."
We also have a new recurring character being introduced in episode 19. Basically from episode 17 on, there's a ton of stuff happening. You also have Monroe and Rosalee's wedding to look forward to, which is going to very a Shakespearean Montague versus Capulet kind of thing.
Will there be a cliffhanger like in previous years?
Absolutely. This cliffhanger is a big deal. It's not even one cliffhanger in this one. Last season was really just about Nick getting the zombie powers. This one has at least three pretty big cliffhangers. Almost every character has something crazy happening to them going forward.
Lastly, what are you hoping for Juliette next season?
She's gone through a lot of things that Nick has gone through as far as learning her way around. I'd like to see her getting more physical. I really like the stunt stuff and getting down and dirty. The fans really like when the women are fighting. They loved the scene in the beginning of the season where Rosalee and Juliette were fighting the zombies. Eventually, they are going to have to deal with Nick's proposal. I am hoping that somehow gets dealt with because that's another question that comes up a lot from the fans.