When speaking with actor Reggie Lee about his work there is no doubt of how much he is enjoying being a part of NBC's hit show "Grimm". Currently in its third season, the science-fiction fairy-tale series is continuing to be a hit with viewers on Friday nights, which Lee says he believes is due to the way the stories are told. One particular storyline he is proud of is the huge one that kicks off tonight for his character, Sgt. Wu, that has him encountering a monster he only thought existed in the fairy tales his grandmother told him. It is the first time "Grimm" tackles a Filipino storyline, one that comes from a true native folklore from Lee's childhood. In our recent interview, Lee, who comes from a theater background, shares why he sees this storyline as the most fulfilling thing he has ever done as an actor.
“Grimm” is now in its third season, what are you most enjoying about it?
Reggie- The part that I enjoy the most are the people. It might be cliché but there's something about this show and being in a cast. We've been around for a while, we're not in our 20's, we've had journeys, most of us. We're kind of long-standing actors and most of us are character actors. It's nice to be in a crowd that appreciates what we're doing. We don't take it for granted. We're a Friday night show; a supernatural show. We could easily go, ‘Oh whatever.’ But we treat it, and I think you have to, kind of like a piece of art. We're all very creative about it and we all love doing the work. Aside from that, we all get along with each other in and outside of work. We all go to dinners together, we vacation together; it's become a family. I come from Theater so it's kind of similar. I remember doing a Broadway show for a whole year and it was like my family. So that's what I love about it. And that's essentially why we do this; to make connections. So it's nice!
As an actor, what most appeals to you with your character, Sgt. Wu?
Reggie- The thing I enjoy about my character is probably the sarcasm. What's interesting is they always say there's a little bit of you in the character but that's not who I am and I love that part that I can just let that kind of fly on the show. I really love that part of him, because it's so not me. It happens in almost every show and people look forward to it. For me, as an actor I think that's a really, really enjoyable part and for a while I thought is this all they're going to have me do? (Laughs) But I think this episode coming up, it's finally starting to flesh out my character and I am excited for the fans to see it. Because behind it you see what makes him tick. And I've always thought as an actor that sarcasm comes from somewhere. I did a lot of research on sarcasm. I love what they come up with. And I think a lot of his nuances will show in these several upcoming episodes where he finally gets to see something.
Well I know your character is going to be going through a big storyline soon. He encounters a monster that he only thought existed in the stories that his grandmother told him about. I know it's the first time the show deals with a Filipino storyline.
Reggie- I'm going to give kudos to Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, who are our creators and show-runners. They came to me and said do you know any Filipino fairy tales? Because I am Filipino. And I said oh boy do I! (Laughs) So I gave them a list and they picked this one that is probably the most frightening creature that “Grimm” has yet to see. I saw some of the cut yesterday. It's called the Aswang. It's pretty crazy! And it's basically a creature that preys on pregnant women and eats the unborn fetus. It does that in order for it to stay young. And the only way it can do that is if the pregnant mother or the baby is a relative of the Aswang. It's like any Grimm fairytale being told to a child, the parents don't know that these stories are freaky. So this was always stuff my parents told me in the Philippines and they'd freak me out, but little did they know that this is a really crazy story. So basically that's the creature that we're dealing with. There is a flashback and you see that my grandmother used to tell me these stories. So you finally get to see some more of my story.
That sounds cool that it’s a fairytale that came from your background that you not get to tell in the show.
Reggie- It's really cool. I love diving into my culture. They used this fairytale and allowed it where you finally see something that is a part of my culture. So not only do you see that aspect where you finally see something, but you also experience a little bit about who Wu is about, which I think has been a long time coming. And this will last for quite a long time because it has its effects on me. And it's probably not expected the way it will affect me, but it's nuts.
And there is a couple that I deal with that this creature preys on that just recently moved to Portland from the Philippines because I convinced them too. Bad move! (Laughs) There's a girl that I grew up with since I was a child and you see he had feelings for her early on. So it becomes a little love triangle.
Definitely sounds like an interesting storyline for your character. That's got to be exciting for you as an actor.
Reggie- Oh, Meriam I will tell you, I've done a lot. I've done a lot of films. I've done a lot of TV. That episode was probably one of the most fulfilling things I've worked on if not the most fulfilling in my whole entire career. And I've had a long career. It was so well-written, and the emotions and the nuances; there was a lot to play with and a lot to flesh out in eight days of shooting. The creators gave me a call after everyone watched it and started applauding on the phone because they just thought, the whole episode, is our best episode of “Grimm” yet. I can't wait. And I'm normally one of those people that can't watch myself on-screen and probably won't, but I'll try with this one! It was really one of those special moments for me in my career. It was nice that it came from a group of people that I love so much and cared so much to make it meaningful to me.
TV is so competitive these days. Shows are premiering and getting cancelled all the time! What do you think it is about “Grimm” that has led it to connect so well with viewers?
Reggie- I think the answer to that is really multifaceted. What I love about this show is the characters are all interesting. All eight of us have something to bring to the table. We know that and we all kind of stay in that lane. And when we stay in that lane, and we cultivate that lane, it makes for this really great chemistry. They will not write you into an episode if there's nothing for you in that episode. Where I think people tend to get carried away with I've got to get each character to do every episode. They're so focused on the story that it's like story, story, story. If you're part of the story they'll put you in. It flows that way. And when it flows, it's watchable. And so I think aside from this Sci-Fi theme that people love to just get away with, not only do you have the really crazy parts, but I think Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and I know we kind of bring some levity to the story. We kind of bring some humor to it. So there's that balance that happens and I think people really like that. I think the big picture and I think this is probably why it's most watchable, is something David Greenwalt said and that is that they really handle the macro and the micro. You can watch a stand alone episode and have it be entertaining to you. Someone who has never watched it can watch it and they'll want to watch it again. But then they also handle this long, social arc of what's happening in the world. People want to see what's going on and that can last an entire season if not two or three seasons. So there's so much to look forward to. And I think that this show really has all of that going for it. Aside from the fact that each character, hopefully to the viewers, is really interesting.
“Grimm” airs Friday nights at 9pm on NBC.