Catching Up With Jacqueline Toboni of Grimm

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On the one hand, there really is no such thing as an overnight celebrity. It’s basically a myth, a fairy tale. This is why the story of how Jacqueline Toboni came to be the new, hugely important guest character on NBC’s Grimm is being described as “a fairy tale within a fairy tale.” Toboni happened to be attending the University of Michigan, where the executive producer of the show (Jim Kouf) came to speak to her screenwriting class. As a part of his presentation he had a table read with some of the students, but was incredibly impressed with one in particular. Shortly thereafter—and just a few days before her college graduation— Grimm fans the world over were introduced to Jacqueline Toboni as Theresa “Trubel” Rubel. Now that we’ve met the new, wickedly bad ass Grimm we’re all pretty much rooting for her to become a series regular. Paste caught up with Toboni to talk about this exciting new role and her equally exciting family life, which may have been a great preparation for all the Trubel she’s getting into now.

Paste Magazine: So, this is probably a crazy time for you right now.
Jacqueline Toboni: Yeah, a little bit. But it’s fun and exciting. I’m just taking it as it goes.

Paste: And you just graduated. Congratulations!
Toboni: Yes! It was just a week ago. I still can’t believe it.

Paste: I got to interview Claire Coffee recently, and we had a great chat.
Toboni: Oh, no way. Claire is awesome!
Paste: She is, and I told her I’ve been really excited about the new female-centered plots on the show. Your character is a big part of that, and I just think it’s so awesome that we have this new Grimm.
Toboni: Thank you so much.

Paste: NBC sent me an e-mail introducing you and it said something like, “After a fortuitous experience in her University of Michigan class, a series of events led her to the role of Trubel.” Can you tell us about your reaction to the news that Jim Kouf wanted you for your first professional acting role?
Toboni: I got the final call after I’d been with them auditioning in Michigan, and Los Angeles, and Portland. And I just started screaming on the phone, and I fell to the floor and was screaming and crying. I was in my friend’s apartment, and I was just like, “Oh God, I think this is it.” I was so thrilled.

Paste: I read that you have three brothers
Toboni: Yes, I have three older brothers and one older sister.
Paste: I have three boys so I can imagine what your household might have been like.
Toboni: Oh no. I’m so sorry! (laughs) I have to give you my mother’s number so she can give you some points on how to survive this.
Paste: (laughs) That’s not a bad idea. I’m going to assume that they’re pretty psyched for you right now.
Toboni: Oh, they’re over the moon. Every time I take a machete to somebody they go nuts. They’re so excited that I’m playing this totally bad ass role that they love.

Paste: (laughs) That’s awesome. How do you think some of your classes at school might have prepared you for some of this?
Toboni: I took some Acting for the Camera classes. I also went to The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and something that I learned there is that you have to have the thought first, in order to say the words. It’s a simple idea that I often overlooked.
Paste: Wow.
Toboni: A lot of the actors on Grimm are really good at that. It’s not just a line—the line you’re reading. It’s a thought, it’s an idea, and you’re trying to change the reality of the person you’re acting with. Learning that was a great foundation for me.

Paste: That’s a great lesson. Last week’s episode was great. It kind of reminded me of the movie Martha Marcy May Marlene, which dealt with cults and the appeal for people looking for family. I loved seeing your character boldly go in and try to save those girls. But it was interesting that you because you also apologized to Nick at the end of the episode. We got to see you changing a bit.
Toboni: That episode really resonated with me. I did a lot of work volunteering with organizations trying to stop human trafficking and sex trafficking. I worked for a campaign called Not For Sale, based out of the Bay Area. So I was glad to see that something I’m really passionate about made it into the episode, and I loved that Trubel wanted to save these girls.

She had real motivation going in there. And I think she apologizes to Nick at the end for doing it because she’s trying to learn to be a Grimm in a way that’s constructive. But I also think she would have done it again.

Paste : Yeah, I love that about her. And I like that we’re seeing how she and Nick need each other.
Toboni: Yes, it’s a brother/sister sort of relationship, and also a lot like student/teacher.. That’s why she stays in the house.

Paste: There are only two episodes left for the season. What can you tell us?
Toboni: Well, we all got the script for the final episode at the same time, and we all went and read it alone first. Then we came back together, and we were all just like, “Oh my gosh, I cannot believe all this is happening!” So we have some surprises for you and it’s going to be absolutely great. People are going to be really invested.
Paste: I think we are already! And you’re getting so much love—I’ve been reading some pieces online and the comments are so overwhelmingly positive. So congratulations again to you, and thanks for speaking with us.
Toboni: Absolutely! I appreciate all of the support.

Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor at Paste, and a New York-based freelance writer with probably more babies than you. You can follow her on Twitter.