EXCLUSIVE: Bitsie Tulloch Talks ‘Grimm’, Discovering Her Hispanic Roots
After a tense season two, Bitsie Tulloch returned as Juliette Silverton this fall with memory intact on NBC’s “Grimm.” Now by Nick’s (David Giuntoli) side once again, Juliette has another chance to use her Spanish speaking abilities to help out on his latest case, “El Cucuy” airing tonight at 9pm. Expect many surprises including the return of Pilar (Bertila Damas) and guest star Manny Montana from USA’s “Graceland.
“I love playing Pilar,” Bertila told us. “I think she embodies the wisdom and strength of women who have lived their lives on their own terms.”
Bitsie will even be live Tweeting the episode during its Eastern Time airing! Follow her here: @BitsieTulloch
We caught up with Bitsie this week this week to get you some scoop on what we can expect tonight and to gain insight on the actress who brings to life one of the sweetest characters in primetime.
“Grimm” gets to have a lot of fun with storylines thanks to it being part of the fantasy genre. The writers are able to delve into the lore of many different countries. How much fun is this to be a part of as an actor?
It’s so much fun! Growing up in Spanish-speaking countries to a mother whose family is Spanish, I had been told several of the stories we have incorporated on Grimm, such as “La Llorona” and “El Cucuy.” So it was a blast reading those scripts and seeing how our wonderful writers were re-interpreting those tales. Reggie has a great episode coming up – episode 14 – that focuses on a well-known Filipino tale. It’s been a joy getting to know other cultures’ legends and tales.
Speaking of this week’s episode, your writers went back to Latin America for inspiration. El Cucuy is a frightening creature that parents would taunt their kids with when they wanted them to behave. What will your role in the episode be?
Juliette does not come face to face with El Cucuy, but Nick decides to involve her since she speaks Spanish and had been told the story of El Cucuy by her grandmother. It’s a great episode!! It’s very creepy and I think our large Spanish-speaking audience will love it. Plus Bertila Damas, who plays Pilar, is back!
There’s a clip of the episode where Juliette, Nick, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), Hank (Russell Hornsby), and Rosalee (Bree Turner) are having a discussion about a variety of wesen and their method of killing. Do you all have someone help you with pronunciation?
We have a dialect coach but it varies according to the actor. For example, Silas’s character Monroe speaks German, so he needs to learn the correct pronunciation. Our dialect coach gives us the proper pronunciation as if we were a native, and then the Americanized version, and we can decide which one we want to use. For Juliette, especially being a newbie to the wesen world, I generally have her say the Americanized versions of the names, unless it’s a word such as “wesen” or “blutbad” or “fuchsbau” that we say pretty frequently.
We were surprised to discover your family background is partly Hispanic. Do you consider yourself Latina?
It depends on how hot-blooded I’m feeling! But yes, I am part Latina on my Mother’s side – they are almost all Spanish but I found out recently that my great great grandmother was Mexican. My mom’s family goes back 8 generations in San Diego and they gather every Día de Los Muertos to discuss the family’s history in Southern California. I grew up in Spain, Uruguay, and Argentina because my Dad was doing Latin American finance. Spanish was my first language but I don’t consider myself completely fluent anymore – when we moved to the States I lost a lot of it. When I’m visiting Spain (my favorite country) it all comes back pretty rapidly.
There’s been a lot of controversy in the media lately about bilingual Americans speaking Spanish on television; some even consider it un-American to do so. As a bilingual American, do you think people would benefit from learning another language? How has being bilingual made a difference in your life?
I no longer consider myself completely fluent in Spanish – my reading and listening comprehension is fluent, but my speaking tends to be a bit garbled as far as grammar and tenses. But yes, if the tools are available to people, I do recommend learning another language. For example, Spanish is the most spoken non-English language in the US and one of the fastest-growing. The US is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world (after Mexico, Spain, Colombia and Argentina).
Spanish aside, knowing any other language probably makes you more valuable at your job. As an actress I have had great storylines that have evolved from the fact that our showrunners know I speak Spanish. Reggie has an upcoming episode where he speaks Tagalog. Sasha has spoken Russian and French on “Grimm.”