For years, Grimm‘s Sgt. Wu has toiled tirelessly in the background of the NBC series’ fictional Portland Police Department. He’s offered exposition. He’s tossed off sarcastic one-liners. And he’s gone about his days blissfully unaware that mythical monsters make up half of his town.
On Friday (9/8c), that changes forever when Reggie Lee‘s wisecracking character follows in Hank’s path and has a traumatic introduction to the Wesen world.
It’s a tough hour for Wu but a great one for Lee – and not just because his character finally gets a first name. (More on that later.)
“I worked really hard on this particular episode, and I loved it. I was tired, I was frustrated, I was really fulfilled by the end of it,” says the actor, whose Wu is at the center of the action when a hellacious creature called the Aswang attacks one of his childhood friends.
Despite all the fun he had shooting the installment, Lee couldn’t resist taking a good-natured shot at co-star David Giuntoli.
“David gets [to play] emotion in little bits here and there throughout the entire season,” Lee says, laughing, while in his case, “It’s like, ‘Let’s dump it all into one episode!'”
Read on as Lee gives TVLine scoop on the Wesen o’ the Week, revels in the glory of finally having an on-screen first name and celebrates being immortalized by a Portland pastry stop.
TVLINE | Tell me about how this Wu-centric episode came about? Did you have any hand in saying like, ‘Hey, maybe it’d be nice to flesh my character out a little bit’? Or was it brought to you by the producers?
They actually came to me. Most of my background is Filipino and partly Chinese, but mostly Filipino. They asked me for any kind of Filipino/Chinese fairytales, so I gave them three from each. And I didn’t even know they started working on the outline on one of them until I said, “Hey, did you guys get my email?” because I hadn’t heard, and they’re constantly busy… They’re like, “Oh yeah, we’ve already got an outline on the Ass-wang.” [Laughs] I said, “Uh…that is fantastic, but that’s not how it’s pronounced! But you can pronounce it like that — and maybe people should in the episode just for a laugh!” But it’s the Aswang [pronounced ahs-wong].
They’re so great at being collaborative, so they wanted to tie in this whole thing — about [Wu] seeing something for the first time — with my actual background, and they succeeded. They did a great job. Brenna Kouf, who wrote the episode, she did a fantastic job. From the first draft that I saw, it was already very true to everything about this particular folklore. And also, she really brought out some different dynamics in Wu that you don’t expect. You see him in a very sardonic state most of the time, so when you see him care about something or when you see him be upset about something, it’s not usual.
TVLINE | There’s also all these little asides to the fans. I think at Comic-Con you said, “You know, I think this season I’d just like to not wear my uniform for a while,” and we have him in several different outfits in this episode. We see him at home, we learn his first name…
We tried to clear Lou because that was initially my choice I think, and so I’ll tell you – all the paperwork that they give me, like files they carry around, it says ‘Sergeant L. Wu’ on them so up until we saw – and then I saw Drew and I was like ‘Oh.’ Then they told me, there is a Lou Wu, they couldn’t clear that and I think they tried to clear Hugh Wu and that wouldn’t clear so it became Drew, which they actually kind of liked, you know? But it was the last thing that I thought it would be.
TVLINE | Will we continue to see Wu more outside of the precinct in future episodes?
I sure hope so! I mean, I go on cases all the time, but in terms of my personal life, I went in [Wu's] bedroom and I was like, “I have a lot of cat figurines!” [Laughs] And it was the first time I’d been in my bedroom! It was like, ‘Wow! I really love cats! A lot!’
There is an aspect of this relationship — about the precinct and the policing, and my relationship with Nick and Hank, and the solving of the cases — that I really love. Listen, as much as I get exposition on a week-to-week basis about cases, I still do really enjoy that and work on it, because I feel like it allows me as an actor to sit in it and be a cop, which is essentially why we do this for a living – to imagine and make it as real for yourself as possible. And let me tell you: As many times as I’ve done it, it’s started to be really real. I feel like I need to go downstairs and get in my squad car right now. They named a donut after me, one of the donut shops over here!
TVLINE | Stop it.
They call it the Dirty Wu!
TVLINE | What kind of donut is it?
It is a cinammon-sugar donut, drizzled with honey and Nutella. It’s from Pip’s Original, this coffee shop that makes baked goods and donuts and amazing stuff on [Portland's] Northeast side. Actually, I am going to go down there and thank them today!