As Sgt. Wu in NBC’s Grimm, Reggie Lee is usually first on the crime scene and uses his sarcastic wit to deal with the drama’s strange happenings. Drawing from different cultures’ folklore, Grimm introduces viewers to profoundly scary stories.
A Filipino legend about the Aswang was one Lee, who lived in the Philippines until he was 5, knew well. The Aswang attack pregnant women and suck out amniotic fluid to maintain their youth. In the episode featuring that legend, Wu had a psychotic break when the Aswang attacked his friend and checked himself into a facility. The changes he experienced are being played out this season, as Wu evolves.
“I was just thinking about this yesterday as I was doing my homework,” Lee says. “Who Wu is is starting to filter into my own life. It is wonderful in that way I have played him for a while. At the same time, I think, does this exist? Because there are so many things we don’t know and we make fun of them.”
Wu was written to be sarcastic; Lee pondered why and came to the realization his attitude was born of being Asian and needing to prove himself.
How has Wu evolved during the course of Grimm?
Reggie Lee: I do feel what really brought about the three-dimensional quality was the Aswang episode. I had to not only show it, but feel it. How do I deal with the stuff I have seen? In that regard, I feel he has softened a little bit. He is able to deal with what he needs to deal with. Even in this season his sarcasm has turned from a fun, playful sarcasm to one that is kind of pointed and angry.
You seem to play a lot of law enforcement characters, why is this so?
I had a year that was like the year of the cop. I was a cop in Crazy Stupid Love, The Dark Knight Rises and Grimm — all in one year. I have also played the very other side of the law. I have played complete a-holes and bad guys all the way through. As an actor I never think of bad guys. I think of them as doing what they need to do in order to survive. Certainly Sargent Wu has been the most three-dimensional character I have played in my life.
Did you know any of your co-stars before this?
Silas (Weir Mitchell) and I came from the same school of acting. We were in L.A., in 2010, doing a scene together in class and we both got this job. We had also done Prison Break together.
Now for some fun questions. You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?
Travel + Leisure, Architectural Digest and Wine Spectator.
If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be? Homeland, The Amazing Race and The Voice.
What has been your strangest fan encounter?
It happened in Portland. They had a T-shirt they had to give me and had been scoping me out for a long time and finally found me. It says: “My other shirt is a Wuniform.”
Tell us about a time when you were starstruck.
I saw a movie-of-the-week with Timothy Bottoms, called A Shining Season. It was about a girls’ track team coach and he had cancer. I was so impacted by it I wanted to be an actor. I was doing Pirates of the Caribbean” and I did an independent film about two brothers working on the railroads. And they cast Timothy Bottoms as the father of the host family. He came to rehearse one day. The movie never came out. But he came to me and I thought, “Oh, my God, you don’t understand.” I hope I didn’t freak him out.
What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Lactose-free creamer, apple cider vinegar and ice cream — Salt & Straw ice cream, [the] sea salt with caramel ribbons. I am lactose intolerant, but I don’t care! I take a pill to have that ice cream.
Grimm airs Fridays on NBC.
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Credit: Chris Haston/NBC