Police dramas have always been one of television’s acclaimed and beloved genres with critics and fans alike. But when suddenly mixed with suspense, fairy tales and sci-fi cult elements, as with NBC’s sophomore hit series ‘Grimm,’ the genre becomes filled with surprises and even more twists and turns that will keep audiences continually guessing. The series features so many diverse characters driving unpredictable plot-lines that viewers will undoubtedly keep tuning in to find out what happens next.
The next all-new episode of ‘Grimm,’ titled ‘Season of the Hexenbiest’ and set to air on Friday, November 16, at 9/8c, heavily focuses on Hexenbiest Adalind Schade (played by Claire Coffee). The show follows the witch as she returns to wreak havoc in everyone’s lives and avenge her mother’s brutal death. She intends to go after Nick (portrayed by David Giuntoli) and those closest to him, particularly his fellow homicide detective and partner, Hank Griffin (played by Russell Hornsby), and his girlfriend, Juliette Silverton (portrayed by Bitsie Tulloch). Meanwhile, Captain Sean Renard’s (played by Sasha Roiz) obsession continues to escalate, and a surprise visit at the spice shop gives Monroe (portrayed by Silas Weir Mitchell) more than he ever bargained for.
Coffee generously took the time recently to discuss over the phone what it’s like filming the acclaimed fantasy television series. Among other things, the veteran television actress spoke about what attracted her to the role of Adalind, what it’s like working with Giuntoli and why she enjoys appearing on different series, as well as in films.
Question (Q): You have portrayed Adalind Schade on ‘Grimm’ since the pilot episode, which premiered last fall. What was it about the character and the script that convinced you to take on the role?
Claire Coffee (CC): Like anything else during pilot season, I had a bunch of auditions. But the script for this was just so interesting. I’ve always wanted to do a genre, supernatural or science-fiction series. When I got this script, I was excited for the pilot.
Q: How familiar were you with the fairy tales that are featured on the show before you were cast as Adalind? Were you a fan of the storylines before you began shooting the show?
CC: I was about as familiar as anyone else. I was told fairytales when I was little. ‘Hansel and Gretel’ gave me nightmares when I was little. But I definitely didn’t have an intimate understanding of the fairytales, or of how many Grimm fairytales there are.
Q: ‘Grimm’ debuted on NBC last season, alongside ABC’s similarly-themed show ‘Once Upon a Time.’ What is it about ‘Grimm’ that differentiates itself from ‘Once Upon a Time?’
CC: With ‘Grimm,’ because all the characters deal with the darkest side of human emotions, it has a darker nature than ‘Once Upon a Time.’ That show has plenty of action and mythology, but I think ‘Grimm’ is less fantasy and more thriller.
Q: You appeared as Adalind in a recurring role during the fantasy horror drama’s first season last year, and were promoted to series regular in September. What was your reaction when you found out that you were promoted to a series regular?
CC: I was thrilled. I kept thinking that my character was going to get killed off. So to be promoted was just the loveliest of surprises. I love playing this character, so it was the best possible outcome that I could hope for.
Q: In the next all-new episode of ‘Grimm,’ ‘Season of the Hexenbiest,’ the plot heavily emphasizes on Adalind. She returns to wreak havoc in everyone’s lives and avenge her mother’s brutal death. She also has her eyes set on Nick Burkhardt and those closest to him, especially Hank and Juliette. How did you prepare for ‘Season of the Hexenbiest,’ and do you think her actions will influence her future?
CC: Yeah, I think she comes back to town with a raging vengeance. She’s out to avenge her mother’s death, but more than that, she wants payback from the captain, when the captain sort of forced her into something that made her lose her powers. She’s trying to regain her powers any way she knows how, so she’s made an alliance with his brother, Eric (played by James Frain), to get them back.
Q: David Giuntoli has played Nick, one of the lead characters on ‘Grimm,’ since the series premiere last year. What is your working relationship with David like on the set?
CC: David’s great. I would say we have a very great working relationship. He’s such a pleasure, and I’ve never seen anyone work more hours. His ability to be the morale booster on set is incredible.
Q: ‘Season of the Hexenbiest’ is tentatively scheduled to be the last episode of ‘Grimm’ to air in 2012, and won’t return until after the New Year. Do you think the episode will build suspense for the second half of the season? Are there details about Adalind’s plotline for the rest of the season that you can discuss?
CC: I will say that the episode coming up, there’s a pretty shocking twist at the end. When it comes back, alliances will be shifting.
Q: You’re best known for your work on television, including playing Janie Ross on the TNT series ‘Franklin and Bash’ and portraying Nadine Crowell on ‘General Hospital.’ What is it about television that you enjoy so much?
CC: I enjoy acting in any respect, but television is where I’ve gotten most of my work, but I have done some indie films. I can’t compare it to much, but with television, when you’re a guest star, you get to bounce around, which is fun. You get to go to different places, and things are always interesting. It’s fun to have a recurring, or like now, a regular role, because you get to follow a character over a period of years, if you’re lucky. That’s a really attractive thing as an actor.
Q: Would you prefer to stick with television in the future, or would you like to do both films and television?
CC: Oh yeah, everything, I would like to do everything. Most importantly, I would like to continue working. (laughs)
Q: You were on ‘General Hospital’ for a year-and-a-half, between 2007 and 2009. Did that experience influence your work on your prime-time series?
CC: No, the characters are so different. It’s a different medium all together.
Q: So how did you transition into, and prepare for, your character on ‘Grimm?’ Did you research the fairytales that are featured on the show?
CC: No, my character is rooted in this one fairytale. She’s a different type of monster entirely. I prepared for her as I would for any other character. I found out what motivates this character and what drives this character into action.
Most recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research into psychopaths and psychopathic personalities. I’ve been looking into people who don’t have any empathy for other people, and don’t have remorse for their actions.
Q: Like you mentioned earlier, you’ve also done some independent films. Do you prepare differently when you’re filming a film, as opposed to a television show?
CC: The preparation is always the same. The difference is, on films, you sometimes have a little bit more time, but on independent films, definitely not. But with television, there’s such a small preparation time on set that the more you can prepare on your own, the better.
Q: Do you have any upcoming acting jobs besides ‘Grimm,’ whether on television or in films, that you can discuss?
CC: Just ‘Grimm,’ it’s keeping me pretty busy right now. We shoot for most of the year. But I do have a movie coming up on Lifetime (‘Holly’s Holiday’), and it’s a holiday romantic comedy. It’s coming out on December 8, I think.
Q: Do you have any interest in directing in the future, besides acting?
CC: No, directing isn’t something I’m really interested in. I don’t have the directing bug yet. I know a lot of actors get that, and I think part of it comes from such a lack of control in the business as an actor in the business, and what you get to do.
I think for me, I’d probably be more interested in the producing side. In that, I mean looking for projects to champion, and having the funds and ability to have great ideas out to more people.
Q: Are there any actors or actresses that you look up to for inspiration?
CC: That’s a good question. I think there are a lot of actors and actresses that I admire, and their work impresses me. I’ll see a really good performance or a really good movie or play, and it inspires me. They drive me to do the best that I can do as an actor, and not emulating anyone else.
Q: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming actors who are interested in appearing in films and on television?
CC: It’s really hard, and I think everyone has such a different path on how they come up through the ranks and how they get work in this industry. I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing, and staying confident. I think the best thing you can do when you’re auditioning is to be as confident as you can be.