Kate del Castillo plays detective Valentina Marquez in an upcoming episode of “Grimm” titled “La Llorona.” (Photo/Scott Green for NBC)

Kate del Castillo cracks the case of La Llorona in spooky crossover “Grimm” episode

The spine-chilling mystery of the Weeping Woman is cracked by Mexican superstar Kate del Castillo, who plays feisty detective Valentina Marquez in an all-new episode of NBC’s “Grimm” – an experience, del Castillo says was a unique opportunity to bring the south-of-the-border legend of “La Llorona” to mainstream audiences.

“My hope is that people will find the tale of La Llorona as scary and spooky as I did when I was a kid,” says del Castillo, who began acting at just nine years old in Mexico and as a popular telenovela actress, has starred in hugely successful projects like “La Reina del Sur.” “And it’s fun to be sharing a story that’s so popular throughout Mexico – every single small town thinks that they’re home to the original La Llorona!”

The tale of La Llorona is the eerie legend of a woman named Maria, who drowned her children in order to be with the man she loves. However, her beloved rejects her and lovesick, Maria kills herself. Unable to enter the afterlife until she has found her dead children, she is forced to wander the earth crying and in pain for the offspring she has lost. As for the scary part? Well, in some versions of the heart-wrenching La Llorona kidnaps young disobedient or stray children in order to drown them.

And in “Grimm” – which will be aired in English this Friday at 9 p.m. on NBC with a subsequent Spanish-language premiere on Telemundo – del Castillo shines as Marquez, a top-notch detective who helps Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) capture a serial child abductor thanks to her years spent tracking the culprit.

“I had such a great time on set,” says del Castillo, who carved out a name for herself among English-speaking audiences in part to stints on “Weeds” and “CSI Miami.” “And what I loved was that my character makes her job personal given that she lost a loved one to La Llorona. She’s absolutely obsessed!”

Del Castillo welcomes being an ambassador for Mexican culture in Hollywood, a role she says, she takes extremely seriously.

“There are so many wonderful customs and traditions from Mexico that can be lost here in the United States,” says del Castillo, who now lives in Los Angeles. “It’s an honor for me to keep my culture alive however I can.”

That includes the upcoming celebration of Dia de los Muertos (“where in Mexico, we go to the cemetery to visit the dead, taking with us their favorite food and drink” explains Castillo), during which the actress says she’ll pray for her deceased relatives and will chat with family members over Skype.

“But I will definitely miss my mother’s posole,” laughs the actress. “It’s not a traditional meal to eat on Dia de los Muertos, but any holiday is a great reason for my mom to make her famous soup!”

del Castillo – whose father is famed novela star Eric del Castillo – says that while she’s lucky to have found fulfilling work, becoming a crossover star is the definition of challenging; something that her male counterparts don’t necessarily experience.

“It’s always easier for someone like William Levy to find success,” says del Castillo, who can next be seen in the thriller “No Good Deed” co-starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson. “The reality is that there will always be someone more beautiful, more talented. But that’s not how I define myself – for me, my work speaks for itself and if I found huge crossover success, it will be because I took part in a project that was fulfilling to me.”

“Because at the end of the day, I’m having so much fun and I love my work – and if I’m on a path where something incredible happens, I would welcome it.”

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