For Sasha Roiz, life in Portland is anything but ‘Grimm’ (Includes interview and first-hand account) (2024)

In an unprecedented move, the cast and crew of the hit television fantasy drama Grimm — which has been filmed in and around Portland, Oregon since its inception in 2011 — has teamed up with NBC, Comcast and Nike to establish the Grimmster Endowment to raise money and awareness for Portland’s OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Fundraising efforts for the endowment will kick off with the “Grimm Gala” at the Eastside Exchange Ballroom on February 7. According to actor Sasha Roiz, who portrays the politically adept superior officer Captain Sean Renard on the Wesen-filled series, he and his fellow Grimm castmates believe it’s essential to give back to a city that holds a special place in their collective heart.

“Because Portland has been our home for four years now — and it really does feel like home — so, we really want to be a part of the fabric here and they’ve been so gracious in helping us accomplish that,” the Tel-Aviv-born, Montreal-raised actor admits. “We are a show that celebrates the city that we film in, both on-set and off-set. We actually represent Portland, and I don’t think it’s really been quite as represented before. We take pride in that, and in turn the city takes great pride in the fact that they’re being represented and positively represented by us — aside from all the murderers and monsters and things like that. Everybody else in the cast, they all do their share and they participate in the community in different charities and nonprofits that move them and speak to them, and it’s really just been a symbiotic and natural evolution.”

For Sasha Roiz, life in Portland is anything but ‘Grimm’ (Includes interview and first-hand account) (1)

The cast of ‘Grimm’ Season 4: (l-r) Claire Coffee as Adalind Schade, Sasha Roiz as Capt. Sean Renard, Bree Turner as Rosalee Calvert, Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette Silverton, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu


Sasha Roiza and many of his fellow Grimm castmates (including David Guintoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch and Silar Weir Mitchel) visited OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital shortly after taking up residence in Portland in 2011. Roiza says they were all moved by the families, the kids and everything the hospital offers to ensure that patients receive the best possible care in a supportive, family-centered environment.

“OHSU is one of the premiere hospitals in the country, especially in this region where people come from bordering states, from all over the place to just be patients of this particular hospital because of its reputation — they’re incredible,” explains Roiz, who also portrayed Sam Adama in the Battlestar Gallatica prequel Caprica. “We came to realize very quickly in our visits that a lot of these families put their lives on hold. And, on top of all the difficulties and emotional trauma that they have to deal in regards to their children, they spend months, weeks, years sometimes, going back and forth trying to rehabilitate their kids. They have to bear the burden not just emotionally but financially — it can’t help but move you. So, I think we just felt a certain connection to that cause. The hospital and the staff are just tremendous and dedicated, and it just spoke to us. I’m sure it’s not the only charity, not the only hospital that certainly needs help, but we just kind of connected and were happy to be able to assist.”

For Sasha Roiz, life in Portland is anything but ‘Grimm’ (Includes interview and first-hand account) (2)

The Grimmster Endowment


If devoted fans of the show are unable to attend the now sold-out “Grimm Gala,” Roiz encourage Grimmsters to support the endowment by making a donation or by participating in an exclusive online auction of memorabilia from the hit drama series inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales. The auction is open to the public and will run from January 26 to February 4. Bids can be placed at Online auction items include the Volcanalis eye from episode 218, Monroe and Rosalee’s cake topper and wedding invitation from episode 322, and drawings from the Grimm book, among other items from seasons one through four.

“We have amazing auction items, things from the set, props and costumes,” 41-year-old Roiz says of the items on the internet auction. “The online auction of a lot of the props and costumes and some of the drawings, one of a kind drawings, have all gone online and they’ll be available for bidding and for purchase up until February 4.

“Plus, Nike graciously pitched in and did an unbelievable one-time thing where they do a limited run of 50 Nike pairs of Grimm shoes, specifically designed for us,” he continues. “Some of them featuring the faces of the character on the shoe itself. Those will be available at auction at the event as well as 400 fleeces, special Grimm designed fleeces, all designed by T. Hatfield, a very impressive name in Nike design. So, we’re very excited for this event and currently it’s sold out so it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to help us benefit this fund.

“Portland is an amazing community and this whole project just goes to show that corporations as large as Comcast, NBC and Nike, who ostensibly seem likes these just giant companies that are impersonal are anything but,” Roiz adds. “I mean, the people that I’ve met who have all come to assist us and who have gone beyond my expectations. They have done so much in order to help put this together and help their own community. It’s really humbling, and I’m so grateful for it. It really is a testament to Portland and how strong a community it is here and how much they embraced us and so that’s really the motivation to give back.”

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David Guintoli as Nick in an episode of ‘Grimm’


Like Roiz, leading man David Guintoli fell in love with the Oregon city from the moment Grimm began filming in 2011. Even in the early days of series, Guintoli felt that filming in Portland had an incredibly positive effect on the production, the actors and their performances.

“Filming on location, in general, allows — if you’ve ever been to camp, it’s like that,” Guintoli joked about working and living in Portland, during a chat in 2012. “It’s a whole new place that started with an entirely new experience. So, there’s an otherness to it. It’s not life. It’s the world of Grimm now to all of us, you know. I think it helps a lot in our chemistry within the actors, because let’s face it, we don’t know a ton of people up there. So, we hang together, and we get on together. And as far as the show, we could not do it without Portland. I couldn’t imagine taking this to a soundstage in L.A. and just the amount of months they’d have to put up in Los Angeles. It would be impossible. It makes such a wonderful aesthetic. It makes it creepy, and it can help do the acting for you when you’re out on location, and it’s raining and you look like you’re in a forest from the Mesozoic era. It just kind of brings it to life. And, as for living there, it has been a joy. I’ve been talking to tons of people here in New York. Everybody asks what it’s like to be filming in Portland, and I’m just like, ‘It’s one of the greatest towns in the United States.’ And, that’s not a lie. It’s like a college campus for adults, and we couldn’t be happier.”

12 Essential Things You Should Know About Sasha Roiz, Capt. Renard and Season 4 of Grimm:

For Sasha Roiz, life in Portland is anything but ‘Grimm’ (Includes interview and first-hand account) (5)

Sasha Roiz as Capt. Sean Renard on ‘Grimm’


(1) Now that Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) is a Hexenbiest, Roiz says Renard and fans of Grimm are in for one wild and crazy roller coaster ride with the series: “This season has become kind of like the season of the Hexenbiest. It’s a hexen feast, as I like to call it. (laughs) There’s been my mom, there’s been myself, Juliette’s transformation, Adalind’s (Claire Coffee) involvement and a lot of sort of magical developments — some good, some bad. It’s definitely going to create havoc as you could imagine. It certainly already has for Juliette and now it slowly will trickle to everyone else. She’s come to me in that kind of partnership and assistance is going to be imperative for her to try to understand who she is and how to navigate this, you know, uncharted water for her. So, we’re going to become a little bit closer than I think Renard is comfortable. Far more than he’s comfortable. And, it’s going to be interesting to see how we walk this tightrope without falling back into any residual effects of that love potion a few scenes ago. Yes, so it’ll be definitely a fun story line.”

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Juliette (Bitsy Tulloch) in her Hexenbiest state on ‘Grimm’


(2) Sasha says the dynamic at the precinct has certainly changed ever since Sgt. Wu (Reggie Lee) discovered Nick’s (David Guintoli) secret life as a Wesen-hunter: “It’s nice to have him on board. I like the dynamic as it’s slowly kind of evolving with Wu in the know. Of course, now it’s just about keeping the rest of the precinct unaware. It’s fun to have yet another player, and a police officer in it, because obviously we need all the help. As you can see, we need all the help we can get because it’s starting to become unruly and far more than we can handle at this point.”

(3) During the second have of Season 4, Roiz confesses we will bear witness to countless twists and turns in Renard’s and everyone else’s storylines (in addition to getting a mess of beastly new Wesen): “There’s always Wesen. (laughs) That’s one thing you can always rely on us for. There’s always something new and creative, and sometimes, like the current episode we’re filming, really weird new ones, like to the point that you’re scratching your head going, ‘How did they turn that into a Wesen?’ (laughs) You’ll see what I’m talking about, I guarantee, you’ll look after Episode 16. But, there’s always residuals to everything. Every decision on Grimm comes with repercussions. So, my life-saving experience is definitely going to kind of come back and reek a little havoc for me, because it’s not without its residual effects which you’ll see slowly with Renard suffering from some of those residuals. As well, there is issues with more family members coming over and creating a lot of trouble for him. It’s getting progressively more and more heated, both life-threatening and the politics become a lot more heated and the dynamics from the characters, obviously with Juliette’s new found hexen status, this is going to change things for everybody. So, Renard gets caught in the middle of all of that, and it becomes a really difficult seasons for him as the season progresses.”

(4) In addition to being offered a description about what a particular Wesen is going to look like in each new script he’s given, Sasha often gets the chance to experience more of the beast before an episode actually airs: “There’s always the description in the script, which is you know, never more than really just a sort of brief description of what kind of animal or creature it’s based on. Then, there’s definitely some drawings, some artistic renderings that you can look at. Sometimes, visual effects will come with their particular take on it and give you a chance to look at it so you can envision what it’s going to be. And, if we have the time, then our make-up team, which is remarkable, as you have seen, comes in and does all the prosthetics and then you get to look at it, you know, firsthand, which is always incredibly impressive.”

(5) Although fans were left wondering if Renard would live or die at the end of Season 3, Roiz says he didn’t have to spend his long summer hiatus worried that he might be out of job: “When that initial script turned up where I was shot, I always felt very confident that I was well positioned in this cast and that I wasn’t going anywhere. But, at the same time I was thinking, ‘This would be really good as a story line if they did kill me off. I’d be terribly upset but I’d understand.’ I did have just a little panic attack where I had to go to our producer Jim Kouf. At one point when he was on set, I pulled him aside and I said, ‘Hey by the way I just needed to ask..’ and he immediately interrupted and he goes, ‘You live!’ I was like, ‘Thank you.’ (laughs) So, I was put at ease, so I wouldn’t have to sweat it out over the hiatus. Thankfully, I just had a chance to enjoy myself and come back to work. I’m glad for my fans, too. I really enjoyed the pouring of support and absolute hysterics, that were on-line in support of the character. (laughs) So, it was fun to see that.”

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Sasha Roiz as Capt. Sean Renard on ‘Grimm’


(6) Throughout the four seasons of Grimm, Renard has gone from villain to good guy. But, things could change…sooner than you think: “There’s probably room to go back to villain, too, and that’s what makes it so much fun. I don’t know, the audience doesn’t know, the writers keep me guessing as well as the fans. And, that’s what makes it fun for me. I like a character that is unpredictable, and I like, as an actor, being in that position where I don’t know from episode to episode, from season to season, what is expected of me and where my character may go and it keeps me very interested and engaged.”

(7) Roiz was first drew to the role of Captain Renard for one undeniable reason: “Employment is what first drew me to the role, I really wanted to be employed. (laughs) But, beyond that it was…I’m just being facetious. Beyond that it was working with (producers) Jim (Kouf) and David (Greenwalt) — they have such an incredible résumé and such great success with so many shows that I’ve enjoyed. They really know how to piece together an amazing ensemble, and they thought that this character would be a really interesting player in this ensemble. They assured me of some amazing arcs and story-lines and evolutions for him and they’ve come through. So, I think I made a good choice.”

For Sasha Roiz, life in Portland is anything but ‘Grimm’ (Includes interview and first-hand account) (8)

Sasha Roiz in ‘Grimm’


(8) Sasha admits he really likes a lot of things about Renard, particularly his indistinctness: “I like the ambiguity, the sort of moral ambiguity that you can’t quite predict with this guy. Even myself, as an actor, I can’t predict it because the scripts keep me guessing. But, I also like how he keeps his cards close to the vest and you just, you see him thinking, you see him constantly planning and scheming and just sort of trying to appraise the situation and how to best deal with it. You never quite know what his move is going to be, so it’s a very interesting kind of like master chess player. I love that about him. He’s always working on so many levels at once, and it’s really fun to enact that.”

(9) Surprisingly, there are several personality traits that Sasha Roiz and Sean Renard have in common: “We all have parts of our characters that resonate with us. I think being, to some extent, an outsider. To some extent, you know, not fitting in. These are all qualities that we can all relate to. Certainly, you know, issues of identity or issues of belonging, these are things that resonate with me, and I’m sure with a lot of viewers. I think that’s what makes him a very interesting and sympathetic character at times. Even when he’s being as harsh as he is, you realize that there’s something fueling that that comes from a place of pain. And I think that’s, you know, something that as a human being you can certainly relate to whether it’s me acting it or you watching it.”

For Sasha Roiz, life in Portland is anything but ‘Grimm’ (Includes interview and first-hand account) (9)

A scene from Season 4 of ‘Grimm’: (l-r) Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu, Sasha Roiz as Captain Renard, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette Silverton, Bree Turner as Rosalee Calvert


(10) Sasha still finds the role of Renard stimulating, even after playing him for four incredible seasons: “The thing that remains challenging about playing him is that it’s one of the characters that keeps getting developed. You know, as an audience member you can probably attest to that — that you don’t know his back story and it slowly unfolds as the season goes on. You start to realize that he’s a prince, that he’s a Wesen, that he’s got all this family, that all these things about him become revealed from season to season. Now those things are not necessarily revealed to me four seasons in advance, so I always have to kind of, as an actor, keep a certain portion of the character uncommitted, meaning like, when they bring something in, I can still fit that into the makeup of this individual. So, that’s been the most challenging part, but at the same time it’s a really fun thing. Right, because I can tell you with every development that you’ve seen I’ve been equally surprised. ‘Oh, I’ve got a mom. Oh I have a dad, I have a cousin, a brother I’m a prince.’ I didn’t even know until the second season that I was Wesen. So, all these things get layered from season to season and it’s really challenging and exciting.”

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Silas Weir Mitchell portrays Monroe on ‘Grimm’


(11) Roiz is about to return to the stage. He and Grimm castmate Silas Mitchell will be starring in a production of Three Days of Rain at the Portland Center Stage this spring: “We’re very excited, Silas and I have been wanting to do theater for a long time. We obviously came from the theater, but it’s just been years since we’ve had a chance to set foot back on the stage, so fortunately it worked out. It was the last slot in their season, and it coincided with our break, so it just worked out perfectly. It’ll be directed by their artistic director whose name is Chris Coleman, a very, very talented director. It’s a three-hander, so we’re going to audition the female role and we’re going to get started in rehearsals in late April. I think we open around mid-May. So, we’re thrilled, and Silas and I love working together. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of scenes together on Grimm. Over the years, we’ve only worked together maybe a handful of times, and we’re looking forward to it because we’re very different actors, very different energies. But, I think we really complement each other, so it’s going to be a really interesting endeavor.”

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A sexy and shirtless Sasha in a scene from ‘Grimm’


Much like with David Guintoli, female and male Grimm fans alike are anxious for Sasha to take off his shirt again on Grimm (there have even been Twitter accounts devoted to his bare torso). Roiz knows he’s become something of a sex symbol, and he’s learning to live with it…kinda: “There’s a lot of that taking my shirt off talk lately (laughs) Being considered a sex symbol, well, it feels, (laughs) you know, on the one hand it’s very flattering. And, on the other hand, it’s a tremendous amount of pressure. I feel like every day, I’m like, ‘When am I going to the gym?’ (laughs) Like, it’s just all about the gym and my caloric intake. It’s all these things, very pressing, much more so than perhaps I would enjoy. But, it’s definitely an interesting aspect of the job, and I’ve come to embrace it. It’s not a bad place to be, certainly in my 40s.” (laughs)

Grimm airs on Friday nights at 9:00p.m.EST/PST and 8:00p.m.CST on NBC.

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