The story of how Jacqueline Toboni, a 22-year-old University of Michigan acting student, landed the coveted role of Trubel (pronounced “Trouble”) on “Grimm” is truly something out of a fairy tale. While “Grimm” co-creator Jim Kouf was doing a speaking engagement at the University of Michigan, which his daughter attends, he witnessed Toboni do a table read of one of his scripts and realized he might have found the show’s newest Grimm.
Long story short, that’s exactly what happened. Toboni’s unintended audition earned her a trip to Los Angeles, and it didn’t take long for her to get the “Grimm” casting team’s approval. On April 25, Toboni makes her Hollywood debut in the “Grimm” Season 3 episode “Nobody Knows the Trubel I’ve Seen” a troubled young Grimm, and she’ll remain on the show through the end of Season 3 — and likely into Season 4.
Zap2it: The story of how you got the part is pretty well told. What happened after you landed the role of Trubel?
Jacqueline Toboni: Great that I don’t have to tell that story anymore! I love you for that. Thank you. Basically I went to Portland twice: I went to test, and I went after I got the job. When I went to test, it was one of the first time I’d ever been on a TV set, and three of the actors were working that day, and I got to meet them and it was so cool. It was a scene where Wesen are there and I got to see how they morphed, and there were gun shots because it was an action scene, which I was so into because you don’t know all the tricks yet. I got to experience that for the first time.
I was pretty nervous actually being in Portland, and it was kind of the final step to the journey. I was nervous because I didn’t know if I was going to get it, and it seemed like it was actually a possibility. David Giuntoli, who I was testing with and doing my scene with, he took me outside on his rehearsal break. He had 10 minutes, and instead of checking out and checking his phone or eating, he took me outside to this porch — it was in a condo on a high rise — and we could see all the bridges in Portland and it was absolutely beautiful, and we ran our scene. He took that five minutes to just make sure I felt comfortable and I had my lines down and helped me out, so that was amazing. That being my first interaction of the cast was very telling of how it would go on from there. They have been nothing but so gracious.
What was it like working on the set?
My first day working, I didn’t get to work with any series regulars, so it was very, very different from how it would go beyond that. I showed up on set, got into my costume and went into hair and makeup. They just started doing it and creating Trubel, and everybody is so talented and creative there, that character was so much easier to play. I had an idea of who she was, but seeing her in the mirror for the first time definitely catapulted my imagination of who she is.
My first day I had this scene where I was on this long two-lane highway and I was alone. I was by myself except for this [production assistant] in the bushes calling “Action.” The camera was on a crane like a mile away, and the director and the producers and the [director of photography] and everything and all the crew was very far away because it was a huge shot. It’s actually the first time you’re going to see her is this scene. This lumber train was next to me. It was just a beautiful night and it was really late and I had been working all day and I was like, “Wow, this is actually happening.” That was the first time it really clicked. It was the kind of experience I’ll never forget. I have a snapshot of it in my head.
Were you familiar with “Grimm” beforehand?
Right when they came in, they were like, “We write for ‘Grimm,'” and I was like, “Oh, that’s the one that’s kind of a fairy tale-esque show.” I had never watched an episode. [Kouf] turned over his card, and it was the “Grimm” logo, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I recognize that. That’s everywhere.” So I went home and I just watched an episode for the first time, and made my roommates watch it with me, just trying to get a sense of the show. And after that, I just started binge-watching and loved it. I’m happy that I get to work on a show that I actually really enjoy and enjoy watching. Every Friday it’s kind of hanging around and having fun watching all my friends on TV.
It works, because like you, Trubel is very new to this Grimm world as well.
It kind of mirrors a little bit of how I am on set. I’m like 10 years younger than everybody, and I just [laughs] I have too much energy for my own good. I think that, with Trubel, she comes into this world and is like bouncing around and eating too much and acting like a kid. I think it’s easy for all of the actors to play the relationship with Trubel that they do with me. There are some hard-hitting emotional conversations and moments, but the humor definitely is in the right spot, and I think the writers can see that. It’s starting to influence the role a little bit, which is fun.
How much of your own personality did you bring into her character?
We come from very different backgrounds. I think that’s how we went different directions. I was fortunately enough to come from a really supporting background. I have a really amazing family with four older siblings and my parents are great and very supportive. I think not having that, Trubel just is on her own and she’s just trying to survive. [There’s a perception] that Nick’s the “good cop” and she’s the rougher, criminal type, and I don’t necessarily agree that it’s hero/villain. I think that she’s just trying to make her way in the world, and so she has to make some tough decisions and sometimes she has to defend herself, and that’s why she ended up where she did.
I think we are very similar. The first thing I read is “her hair is lopped short, like she cut it herself,” and they were using all these words where I was like, “Oh my god, I can play this! I have three older brothers who have trained me to play this role.” They auditioned 800 girls, and David [Greenwalt] and Jim always say, “No one really looked like they could throw a guy against a wall, and I feel like you could.” [laughs]
You’re in Season 3 through the finale, so would you be open to coming back next season?
Yes, I would be open to coming back. It just kind of depends on where the storyline goes. I know that. I’m just so thankful for this experience that I’ve had. I’m just kind of focusing on that, and then we’ll see. I had so much fun and Portland is such a cool city to be in that I would love to come back. We’ll see if Trubel does. I am in through the finale, and at first it was just three episodes, and getting the finale was a treat for sure.
“Grimm” airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.