In the new episode “Mommy Dearest,” the entire world of Sergeant Wu has a bit of cataclysmic shift when he comes face to face with a creature from his own nightmares. It remains to be seen if that completely opens Wu’s eyes to the entirety of the Wesen world and if he becomes entrenched even further with GRIMM’s resident “Scooby Gang.”
So in a recent press conference call, co-star Reggie Lee talked about how this encounter may change Wu’s perspective on the supernatural side of life.
Up until this episode Wu hasn’t known about Wesen. How important do you think it is to the story that there’s someone who is constantly ignorant of that fact?
REGGIE: It’s a constant back and forth. I think for the creators and me and for the audience, I think that it’s important that there’s some kind of a balance, and because of that I think they’ve strung it along up to this point because of that particular reason. And who knows what they’ll do from here on out? And who knows what will happen? But if everyone knew, I think it would be less of an effect, right? If there was no one that was like, “Huh?” the balance wouldn’t be there. I think that’s really important for the show. That being said, you had shows like BUFFY where everyone kind of knew, and everyone was in the fray and doing their thing. So for the creators, I think they’re kind of weighing the options in terms of that and seeing what would be best. But I think from the audience point of view, it’s kind of interesting to have some kind of balance in the show where someone doesn’t know and some people know. It needs that because if everyone knew it would just be all about solving the crimes versus, “Oh, God, we’ve got to keep this secret from some people and not tell them.” So with this episode you’ll see what happens.
For this week’s episode, the creature is based on something that Wu’s grandmother has told him. How real does that make it to him and is it really based on a real Filipino myth?
REGGIE: The creators are so wonderfully collaborative. They actually came to me and said, “Do you know any Filipino folklore?” I said, “Yes. We have actually quite a bit.” So I gave them a list and it included the Aswang, which is probably the most popular one in Filipino folklore. It was always told amidst relatives and it’s believed in. As a matter of fact, it’s very big in the Philippines. So it’s very real. As to what Wu saw and how real that is for him, I mean as a kid you’re growing up thinking that this stuff is real. And of course, like anything, it’s like Santa Claus, right? At some certain point you’re like, “Oh, no, whatever,” and “that’s not real.” But then speaking as Wu, I think what he saw seemed pretty real to him. So he’s got to figure that out for himself.
Do you have a favorite other Filipino legend that you’d like to see them bring to GRIMM?
REGGIE: Yes. But there is there’s so many. There’s one popular one called the Manananggal, which is also an Aswang, which is kind of a person that separates in half that goes flying around. So that’s the other really popular one. I would love that and there’s also one called the White Lady, which is akin to La Lorona, the Mexican folklore that we did, which is really freaky that we’ve all grown up with. So maybe they could do a version of that. Because I think they really enjoyed doing this one. Hopefully we’ll have another one sometime.
If you had found out your character was a Wesen, what kind of creature would you want to be?
REGGIE: A weasel. I’ve always said that. I’ve said I wanted to be a weasel. It’s interesting because the Grimm writers were like, “I think Wu might be a marsupial.” But, no, I’d be a weasel. (Laughs)
This season you guys really have taken it up a notch. How does it feel for you when you get your scripts? Do you feel like they’re ahead of what you were last year?
REGGIE: Definitely. At the beginning of this season, I think they might have given us like five scripts before we even started shooting one. So they were way, way ahead, which makes it joyous for the rest of us because you can do your homework. You can do your preparation for all this stuff. Especially David and Russell, who work every single day. I think it was really great for them to have that jump on it. The great thing is too, I think what they’ve decided this year to go international. I think that that’s the key. They’re really scoping out all the folklore in different parts of the world, which is really great for me. I mean how often really do you get a Filipino storyline in a show? Not very often. I can’t think of any. So how great for them to really focus on that? And I’ll tell you what, the Filipinos are excited. They’re excited about it. So it was really a joy for me to be the one to break that kind of news to them and go, “Listen, GRIMM’s doing a Filipino episode.” And just everyone’s excited. So they’re real conscientious about that and they’re going out and scoping out the entire world. We’ve got so many fans that love this show all over the world, I think once it hits their country and their folklore, I’m sure they look forward to that. And I’m sure that the closer to them it gets, the more they can relate. So I’m hoping that we do that even more, and I think they will.
Now we’re obviously getting to see more focus on Wu and it looks as though there’s got to be more of an arc. What about the future? Do we have any idea if there’s going to continuing in the future?
REGGIE: Wu’s definitely a sharp guy. He’s a sharp guy and the writers are smart. So there are little hints here and there that are kind of funny scenes that you’ll see. So, yes, this effect on Wu lingers. It’ll linger for quite a bit. And it’ll probably linger through the rest of the season. But he’s a sharp guy, so there are some real wonderful moments here and there as we go through the season that he’s like, “Hmmm. Hmmm. What are you doing here? Why are you spending so much time with this person? I have no idea why, but there’s something here.” So I just laugh at those moments in the script because I’m like, “Wow, for those that follow the show on a very close basis it’s going to be a treat.” It’s a treat to see these little moments that Wu has through the season. So, yes, there will be more things.
Is there anything maybe coming up for Wu, like a romantic interest or anything like that? And would you want that for him?
REGGIE: Of course I want that for him. That’s something people always ask me about l what I’d love to do in the future, and that’s actually on my bucket list of things that I want to have in my career: a love interest in one way or another. I think that you may see it. I think again, we all have our lanes on the show. There’s a certain lane that we’re in and I think there needs to be a balance on the show of couples and people that are not coupled – just like a balance of people that know and people that don’t know about Nick. So how they keep that balance, I don’t know. How they want to keep that balance, I don’t know. I know they’ve said, “We like that he’s a single guy. We like that.” So there may be that, but it’s inevitable for the future that something like that will happen. So we’re hoping for it, but they do like that balance. But it’s something that I want. So depending on if they want to tip the scales, they will. And they’re not afraid to.
Can you just talk about when Wu does find out that there’s this secret world of Wesen, how do you think that that will affect him, change him, as a character?
REGGIE: I think that the way it will affect him initially because it’s something that he had heard of before. So it’s very different from anyone else’s reaction because I think it’s certainly things that they hadn’t heard about before, but they’re seeing. It’s so incredibly realistic in the Philippines. I mean it’s an island country so people get really, really entrenched in these stories and believe them. So in the outcome that it has on Wu, I think it’ll linger quite a bit before he starts to kind of not want or want to figure it out for himself. But the effect of it will be humongous for Wu. I think that’s going to have to subside before he will decide one way or the other. And you’ll be surprised at which person in the cast sways me to one way or the other because it’s not one that you’d expect. And that’s to come.
It sounds like everything is going to change with this royal baby coming up soon. How is that going to change the entire sort of landscape of GRIMM?
REGGIE: It’s going to be complete chaos. It’s been forthcoming this entire season and people have been expecting it. So I think it’s interesting because it’s such a part of a world that I’m not privy to, but privy to only in that I read. I read them in my scripts. But the things that I’ve read have really been fantastic in terms of the way this baby is used to sway emotion in so many different people. And it’ll hit probably almost every single cast member, this baby.
If you could play any other character on the show other than the sergeant who would you like to be?
REGGIE: Definitely Adalind. No, I’m just kidding. No, I’m not kidding. It’s fun. I mean I love playing that aspect of any person because I really don’t ever think that there’s a bad, bad person. I think that I’d want to be Adalind. Let’s not kid about that. But I think that there’s a great deal to be said about the way the writers have really [written all the characters]. There’s a gray area to everyone’s character on the show. There is good and there’s bad. It’s really moral ambiguity, which gives the show its life because that’s like in real life. You question, “Am I being good? Am I being bad? What am I doing? What am I trying to do? I’m trying to be a good person.” And I think everyone has that. But, boy, I think Adalind has a lot of fun. I’d like to step into those shoes.
What were perhaps some of the initial acting challenges you found stepping into the Sergeant Wu character? How have you seen your character grow and develop since the beginning?
REGGIE: I think the hardest part was there wasn’t a lot. I think that was the most difficult part because I think the more you’ve got on the page, the more you can build. So when there wasn’t a lot, I needed them to give me some kind of spark. Even before I started to do any kind of homework on this particular character, I needed them to give me where he’s come from. Even that was very kind of there are three bullet points; he’s been a cop for this many years, he’s good at his job, all this stuff. But where I really started to develop him was a line in the pilot where Nick just bumps into Wu because he’s staring at a creature that’s morphing. Nick bumps into Wu and I go, “I guess I should have worn my airbags today.” And from then on I was like, “This is a sarcastic dude. He’s sarcastic and sardonic.” So I built from there. I actually researched sarcasm and I went, “Okay, psychologically where does that come from”? And people that are the most sarcastic, it comes from an insecurity. I don’t know if you knew that or not. But it comes from insecurity. So I started to work on: “Why am I insecure? Why do I do my job so well? Am I afraid? Am I wanting to be good because there’s that Asian factor?” Like you’ve got to be perfect at what you do. Perfect, perfect, perfect, whatever it is. You’ve got to be beyond perfect. So I started to work with that and it started to get more exciting. So as they built upon it, and I think this next episode has given me the most as you’ve seen in his background. But even the stuff where Wu went through eating couch cushions, that gave me a lot of insight into who he is. Figuring out in second season that he was really good at video games, seeing his apartment and what was in it gave me a lot of clues and I got so excited. I can talk to you about this forever by the way. Because it excites me. This is what is exciting to me about this. But from the get-go there wasn’t a lot on the page so I really had to build. It almost became like a real collaboration that way because the way my performance would be from that build, then the writers would look at that performance and take from it and build even more. So Wu became just more comfortable with the sarcasm. They could write more one-liners. They could see what kind of character he was becoming, which posed a difficulty for me in this particular episode that you see coming up, because there are so many colors of Wu that I hadn’t touched base on. Like the vulnerability and the being out of control. Those were really new territory for me. For that to be so evident and for me to show it to other characters, I don’t show that. Normally. I don’t show vulnerability nor do I show that I’m out of control. So for me to experience all that was like candy. And I love candy. So that was like candy when I saw this episode. It was great.
To see how wonderfully Wu handles dealing with his own Wesen case and perhaps not realizing it, be sure to tune of for an all new episode of GRIMM on Friday, March 7th at 9:00 p.m. on NBC.