GRIMM Scoop: Claire Coffee Interview

With Season 5 of NBC’s GRIMM now underway after last week’s premiere, things are off to a roaring start.  Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is in full rage and panic after watching his beloved fiancé turned Henenbiest Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) die in his arms and have her body snatched away, along with the head of his mother and his fellow Grimm, Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni).  Then as if that was not enough, Nick’s worst nightmare has become a reality and Adalind (Claire Coffee) gave birth to his son from their one night spell-cast tryst together.  But as babies usually do, Nick’s heart was softened to see his new son and by the fact that Adalind had named the baby after his now-deceased mother.  So maybe there could finally be a truce between Nick and Adalind – yeah, we are not holding our breaths either, but here is to hoping!

In a recent press call, star Claire Coffee shared where Adalind’s journey is headed this season and what her intentions really are now that she is a mother for a second time and has her child in her arms.

It seems like, at least according to what she’s saying, that Adalind is changing for the better, and she said that she doesn’t want to change back again. Can you talk about that? Like is that going to last or is it just kind of what she’s feeling right because she still has baby hormones?

CLAIRE: That’s a good question. Those baby hormones, as I now know firsthand, are very persuasive at times. But, yes, I think she finally feels like her life is far better without being a Hexenbiest than it is being a Hexenbiest.  And her fear towards — we’re shooting episode 11 now — but her fear kind of in the beginning is that this is a suppressant that they used to suppress her powers, but they could trickle back in at any moment and she is really scared of that happening because the relationship that is building with Nick and then with Kelly, she really wants to do it right this time.

Can you kind of talk about how her relationship with Nick is going to evolve as time moves on? It’s not likely that he’s going to forgive her any time soon, but they seem to be amiable right now.

CLAIRE: Yes, at the beginning of the season they’re both at a bit of a crossroads — Nick having lost his mother and Juliette, the love of his life — and Adalind has no one. I think that they really do bond over this child where the only feeling that matters to them at this point is keeping this child happy and healthy. So they form a bond over that. And I think it’s easy to let bygones be bygones when you have a baby that really does need you 24 hours a day. So it gets them pretty sidetracked, at least for a while.

You mentioned a possible relationship between Nick and Adalind. It sounds so cute. Have you had a chance to reflect on her journey and her heart?

CLAIRE:  Oh yes. I think “rollercoaster” defines it most accurately. I really do try to take it day-by-day. We don’t get the scripts except for probably a week in advance, so it’s great.  I never knew where she was going, which helps, because you can kind of take each insane thing at face value and not really worry about too far in the future or how it’s going to affect things in the future. But as an actress, that’s really all you want, is to be able to play extraordinary circumstances and I feel like I got to play three different characters in the same show.  So it’s been great fun for me.

When Juliette went off the rails and now with her possible demise, there were fans that were really talking about the possibility of a Nick and Adalind coupling. I’m wondering is when you hear that, is that crazy talk or do you go, “Hmm”?

CLAIRE: Well, there’s no crazy talk on the show. There’s nothing too crazy. It’s all crazy, all the time. But Nick and Adalind have had that very aggressive and contentious chemistry from the beginning, since she was the first Wesen that he saw and she’s been a thorn in his side.  So I do think they have — they are an expression of that saying that “there’s a thin line between love and hate.”  They are inextricably linked, I would say.  So it’s not so farfetched. But there’s so many things complicating the situation at this point. Especially this season, we have a brand new villainess entity and there’s this Wesen uprising afoot. So there’s a lot going on.

When this series started you were a guest star and now you are a main component of the main storyline and you are an integral part of the show.  What does that say about your talent, about the creative team’s confidence in you, and really about the fans desire to see more of you?

CLAIRE: That’s a very flattering way to look at it for sure. I always do mind getting killed off, so I’m so grateful that I had more than one episode. Before GRIMM, I’d done a fair amount of, “Oh, its guest star and it’s going to be recurring and if the series gets picked up you’ll be a regular.”  Then the series doesn’t go or that doesn’t happen.  So I really at this point consider myself insanely lucky and I feel great that the fans have loved to hate me this long! (Laughs) I’m very grateful on that.

In the midst of all of Adalind’s journey and her change, how has her relationship with Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) going to be affected by the new relationship between Nick and Adalind as the season progresses?

CLAIRE: So with Renard, the captain, he has sort of different storyline in Season 5 and Adalind with the baby, she’s definitely popping up more with Nick and the gang and with Hank and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner). With Hank, I think nobody forgets how badly she screwed over Hank and tried to kill him and all of that. But it seems to be a little bit on the back burner as people are giving Adalind the benefit of the doubt. Thankfully, for myself and her.  And her relationship with Rosalee, she’s really trying to get Rosalee to trust her and they’re forming a friendship that it will grow throughout the season.

When you signed up for the role did you have any idea that they would be this complex, or did you think it was a quick evil character?

CLAIRE: Yes, I know when I signed up it was one episode with a potential to recur and Adalind was a sort of henchman for Renard.  That’s as far as I knew. I try not to wonder too much beyond that. It’s just been a very pleasant surprise how it’s gone.

Now that Adalind has a new baby, does she still have fears that perhaps this one is going to get taken away too?

CLAIRE: Theirs is a fear that this one will get taken away, and with the new stress that arrived on the scene in Portland, her fears are not assuaged in any way. So she’s relying on Nick for protection.

In terms of some of the other things that are going on in the storyline, is there an impression that Adalind is suddenly Juliette’s replacement?

CLAIRE: Oh, I don’t think so. Well, the best thing I can say is you just have to wait and see. It’s a pretty twisty, turning season.  So she’s not replacing anything. I think this Adalind/Nick relationship is kind of providing just one more layer for the gang. Because I think for the rest of the team, they definitely aren’t so excited to have her in the fold at first. And nobody is trusting her completely.  So it’s a very slow process.

In regards to David Greenwalt, in the past, actresses have cited him as a consistent champion of complicated, multilayered, female characters. Have you found that to be a factor with your character? And just in general, how have you found the experience of working with him as a collaborative partner?

CLAIRE: He’s fantastic. Both Jim and David, well first, they balance each other out so perfectly. And David is just a champion of the show and all of us.  I get calls from him every so often just telling me like, “Oh, you’re doing such a great job. We’re so happy that you are with us and we are just really proud all of the work.”  And that’s for everybody. The feeling on set is that the both of them have created this feeling that we’re all one big family and everyone is just really wanting everybody else to succeed. It’s rare and really wonderful. I would say I am so lucky that they’ve put so much faith in me to kind of carry out the insanity that is Adalind’s character. But as I talk to them a lot about like this, they approach everything in the most grounded way possible. So nothing is crazy to them. Like, of course she’s going to lose her powers and gain her powers again and sleep with Nick and then have a baby and it will be fine and they’ll be living together. And it’s amazing, this is what’s happening. So taking all of that at face value. But it’s a very longwinded way of saying yes, David Greenwalt is a fantastic champion of female – complicated female characters.

Beyond these first two episodes of the season, what Adalind might be up to?

CLAIRE: Her main concern is keeping Kelly safe and she’s really trying to figure out a way that she can be a “normal” person. She wants to be a good person and try to figure out ways to do that and be a good mom. Her relationship with Nick is also something that is ever-changing for the first half of this season. So it gets complicated.  That is I think the only thing I can say.

What you like and dislike about the new Adalind?

CLAIRE: What I like about the new Adalind is I get to shoot with the rest of the cast more frequently now that Adalind is in Portland and hanging out with the gang. So that’s the most fun — being with everybody, which I didn’t get to do as much as evil Adalind.  And then what do I miss? Well, I’m in pajamas for a large part of the season because just having had the baby, so I was really loving it.  (Laughs) But now I’m kind of anxious to get back into Adalind’s fashion.

We have seen the evolution of your character Adalind throughout the fourth season. But it also seems that the definition of what a Hexenbiest is has also evolved. Can you speak to how that has changed over the years?

CLAIRE:  I think it’s gotten more specific, I would say. At the start, I was the only Hexenbiest and we had the episode where you learned a little bit more about Hexenbiest, the sort of lethal, witch creatures that no one in the Wesen community really liked. And I think now it’s gotten more specific with the rules of Hexenbiest and how you can become a Hexenbiest. And, you know Juliette became a Hexenbiest. She was not born a Hexenbiest, so therefore her powers are more deadly. Then we have the Zauberbiest, which is the captain. We learned about the male version of the Hexenbiest. But it is evolving for my character.  She’s suppressing her powers.  So how and what does it take for those powers to kind of come back and come through? And how can you suppress them forever?  Those are things that we will continue to learn about in Season 5.

Did you have input on how these definitions of Hexenbiest evolved, or did you learn it as you got the script? Did you guys workshop what a Hexenbiest is? How did that come about?

CLAIRE: No, it’s just all based on the script. In the pilot, it was experimenting with a woge because I was one of the first ones to do that — me and Silas. So that was probably the only thing I had a hand in, and the rest of it is all Jim and David.

Will Adalind get involved with any of Nick’s cases or get involved with any of the action?

CLAIRE: Yes, a little bit. I think he probes her for some knowledge on more about the darker side of the Wesen world. And from the kind of folklore perspective she proves to be helpful in a few ways.

But she’s not out there with them like getting involved?

CLAIRE: No, she’s not trudging through the forest in the nighttime.

With the show celebrating its 100th episode, what does being part of a show like this mean for you, personally?

CLAIRE: It’s unbelievable, truly. I keep saying it’s that we’re all just so grateful and in disbelief and so proud of the show and so happy to be up in Portland.  And 100 episodes these days is such an enormous accomplishment. So we are hugely indebted to the fans of the show. It’s outstanding.

With so many TV shows and many ways to consume television today, why do you think that GRIMM is still so popular?

CLAIRE: I think it’s the characters.  There’s a little bit of something for everyone with these characters, and the arcs of the characters have been so complex. So I think that’s really fun for fans from the beginning to see how things change from season to season and even from episode to episode. And the monsters translate in any language. I think scary is scary.  And our visual effects and artists have done an incredible job of creating these very intricately disgusting at times, creatures.  That’s reason to tune in alone, just to see what the next monster is going to look like!

What was the most challenging thing to shoot this season?

CLAIRE: There was a scene coming up where I had to hold the baby, answer the phone, and deal with a pot of boiling water with rice. So, just from a choreography standpoint I would say that was pretty challenging!

What advice would you give to your character?

CLAIRE: My advice would be: “Hang in there.  Be nice. Hang in there and be nice.” I think that’s what it comes down to.

Will Adalind get a chance to meet her daughter Diana again? And what kind of relationship do you think they could have?

CLAIRE: That’s a good question. We’re up to Episode 11 and Adalind still haven’t gotten her back yet. And Diana is aging rapidly, so we’re all sort of speculating as to how old she will be when I finally see her again. At this point, whomever she’s with has spent a lot more time with her than Adalind has. So those mother-ties are very, very strong. But the relationship would obviously be, I think, difficult at first.

You’ve been playing Adalind as primarily evil for the last four years. Are you enjoying playing a kinder, gentler Adalind, or are you eager to get back to villainy?

CLAIRE: I’m enjoying it. It’s always fun to get to play something different. But I think as I said before, it’s really just the day-to-day enjoyment of getting to work with the rest of the cast. I’m loving right now.

Your character has had a lot of interaction with Juliette. What is it like working with Bitsie and also what is your relationship with her like off the screen?

CLAIRE: Well, working with Bitsie from an actor’s standpoint is great. She is super professional. She always brings incredible stuff to work off of.  So that was great last year to get to do that.  And then, off screen, Bitsie, Bree, and I are very close. We have girl-dates frequently and it’s awesome.

When you get a script, what is your usual reaction when you see what they have in store for you, and the show in general?

CLAIRE: Well, they always email the script first and I sort of stop whatever I’m doing and I’m like scrolling through just to see, “Okay what am I doing” And this season in particular, there were a lot of, “Oh, my! What? Oh, my god.” Those kinds of reactions. But Jim and David keep very tight-lipped about what we’re all doing. And I never ask because, I mean I want to know but I kind of don’t want to know, because then it would just affect my performance in a weird way. So we do read scripts and I am privileged to read the script as a fan really. That’s the easiest way to put it.

With kind of the way things have played with Adalind having the baby and you personally having your baby, what are the similarities and differences between your parenting and hers?

CLAIRE:  The similarity is that being a mother makes your life very simple in one way because you have only thing you’re really concerned with at the end of the day and that is making sure your baby is happy and safe. So in that way Adalind as mother and Claire as a mother are in lockstep. The differences are that Claire as a mother is over-researched and much more paranoid than Adalind is as a mother. I think she’s winging it a little bit more!

What were your feelings when you first found out you would be having a baby and it would be Nick’s?

CLAIRE: I was shocked. Well, they wrote in another baby because I had a baby in real life. But when I told them I was pregnant, I said, “Obviously, we’re not going to do another baby storyline. Like, don’t worry we can use a body double — whatever. It will be all fine.” And then halfway through the season they said, “Actually, we are going to have you be pregnant and it’s going to be Nick’s.” And I think my jaw hit the floor. But it ended up being outrageously kind of fun adventure. It still is.  So I’m happy that they went that direction.

To see if Juliette is truly gone for good or any if her absence paves a way for a potentially thrilling yet volatile romance between Adalind and Nick, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of GRIMM on Friday nights at 9:00 p.m. on NBC.  Pray for them all!