It’s foggy and cold outside, but inside the Portland, Ore., soundstage of Grimm, the NBC drama inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, there’s a warm flurry of excitement as actors, extras, crew members, and press bounce around a taping of the show’s sixth and final season, which premieres tonight.
Boxes of Blue Star donuts litter the entryway as reporters wait patiently for an opportunity to pick brains and commiserate. “It’s bittersweet,” says fan favorite Silas Weir Mitchell (who plays Monroe). He follows this sentiment with reassurance that the Scooby Squad, a nickname the cast has given themselves, is “more sweet than bitter.”
On the set, cast and crew are filming episode 12. Beyond the dressing room turned waiting area lies a warehouse full of props, a spice shop, a replica of the Portland police precinct and a comfy home where supernatural stuff is hitting the fan. A door slams, voices are raised, accusations are made; action is happening as an actor calls for their line. I’m certain once the technicians get a hold of the footage a CGI monster, or three, will appear.
Meanwhile, both fans and actors agree that Portland is the real star of the show. “It’s been the best city on Earth to work in, work for, really,” says Jacqueline Toboni (Trubel). When Grimm isn’t confined indoors, Portland is the cast and crew’s playground. From the mossy phosphorescent forests and picturesque Gorge to local parks and hot spots, there’s no shortage of dramatic locations to shoot memorable and moody scenes.
“Portland is 50 percent why everything works on the show. We all love working here, living here and representing Portland in this cool, fun way. Portland is a part of my soul now forever,” says Bree Turner (Rosalee Calvert). The feeling is symbiotic. Local fans appreciate Grimm’s Portland presence, too. Referred to as “the antidote to Portlandia” by Carrie Solomon, founder of a Portland cannabis-infused edibles and topicals company Leif Medicinals, the show represents Stumptown in a way locals can support (as opposed to Portlandia’s incessant mockery of the city and its citizens). “I’ve seen almost all of the actors around town just doing normal things, so it’s nice that they are integrated into the local community,” says Solomon.
They’ve done more than just mingle. In addition to visiting patients in local hospitals, last year’s Grimm Gala raised $386,000 for the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Grimmster Endowment, a patient-assistance fund which helps cover travel, lodging, and uncompensated expenses integral to the care of vulnerable patients throughout the state of Oregon.
Local actors reaped benefits as well. “It’s provided so many of our incredibly talented Pacific Northwest actors with work and the opportunity to showcase their talent. Please tell them to not cancel the show!” exclaims Kara Bradford, a fan of the show who also serves as the Chief Talent Officer at Seattle-based cannabis recruiting agency Viridian Staffing.
Despite passionate cries from fans, the show is definitely ending. But this season is closing with a big, resounding bang.
“It’s emotional,” says Reggie Lee (Sgt. Drew Wu). As Lee was riding in an Uber, reading the the final episode, the actor texted the Scooby Squad, “I’m on page 37 and I’m bawling like a baby.”
When asked for a clue of what’s to come, Sasha Roiz (Captain Sean Renard) shared only a taste: “There’s a very powerful evil presence that’s coming on a spiritual metaphysical level. The battle will reunite them toward a common enemy.”
The show’s creators and longtime writing partners, Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, are the masterminds behind the series among other cult favorites like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. They believe the “emotional connection to the characters and the power behind the storytelling” contributes to the rabidness of the fans. “We like to give viewers what they need, not necessarily what they want,” says Greenwalt. “We are wrapping up our precious baby and all these people that we love and adore. I think we did right by the characters. Hopefully, it will be right for the audience.”
As they begin to wrap the final season, the entire Grimm team is eager to express gratitude to their fans. When the show first aired in 2011, NBC’s ratings were suffering. Roiz didn’t even unpack his bags during the entire first season, thinking they’d be canceled before Season 2. Fast forward to today, Grimm has aired for six successful years. Of all NBC shows premiered in 2011, Grimm is the only one remaining. The series is a hit.
The cast has become a family, formed friendships, some have even fallen in love. From the cast and crew’s sentimental tone on set, it’s obvious they’ll miss the experience, but look forward to the future. Bitsie Tulloch (Juliette Silverton) is hopeful the show will eternalize in reruns. “People on social media tell me they like to watch the show over and over again,” she chimes in with a wistful sigh. “I know it’s ending, but hopefully it will live on.”
Russell Hornsby (Hank Griffin) is excited for his next project in New York City, a Netflix drama called Seven Seconds. Hornsby laments what he’ll miss most: “What happened between cut and action: People doing practical jokes, laughing and singing and getting to know the crew, and becoming a family.”