On NBC’s GRIMM, now in its second season Monday nights at 10 PM – the show moves back to its Friday 9 PM timeslot in several weeks – Russell Hornsby plays Portland, Oregon police detective Hank Griffin. Hornsby has previously been a series regular on GIDEON’S CROSSING as a medical doctor, on HAUNTED as a police detective who assists a private eye (played by Matthew Fox) who can see ghosts and on LINCOLN HEIGHTS as the father of a family involved in dramatic situations.
On GRIMM, Hank has lately been cutting a lot of slack for the sometimes strange behavior of his partner Nick Burkhardt, played by David Giuntoli. Hank doesn’t know that Nick is a Grimm, someone born to fight Wesen, strange creatures who can appear human (although Nick has a few Wesen friends).
According to last week’s trailer, tonight may be the night when Hank finds out the truth about Nick, which would suit Hornsby fine at this point.
RUSSELL HORNSBY: I enjoyed not knowing, but only for awhile. I can’t wait until it’s revealed to me, if and when it is, that I know that Nick is a Grimm, and the whole life and journey that he’s been going through.
AX: Have you done any research into playing a police detective in order to play Hank?
HORNSBY: I had played police detectives before, so I’m really familiar. And I have a lot of my family, I have a lot of friends who are in law enforcement, I have an uncle who’s a judge, another one who’s a constable, so I’ve done a lot of ride-alongs and everything like that. So I’m pretty familiar with the world.
AX: Have any of your family or friends in law enforcement said to you, “If I was your character on GRIMM, I’d think my partner’s a serial killer by now”?
HORNSBY: Oh, yeah. Everybody has an opinion as to how it should be played, and what my character should be thinking. But I tell them, “If you know so much, write it, please” [laughs].
AX: Did you and David Giuntoli talk about playing your partner relationship at all, or did you just see what it developed like on set?
HORNSBY: I think it’s something we just decided to develop. I mean, we really didn’t know what we had. It was just something that we kind of organically brought to life.
AX: In terms of physical action how much do they actually let you do, as opposed to when they send in your stunt double?
HORNSBY: All of the fights I do, but any of the actual stunts, I try to do as little as possible. I’m over the fascination of thinking I’m Jackie Chan or something like that.
AX: The series is filmed in Portland, Oregon. How is working there? Had you ever worked there before?
HORNSBY: I had never worked inPortland. I had never been toPortland. The winters are very rough, they’re very difficult, but I enjoy my time there. It’s a wonderful sort of break fromLos Angeles.
AX: For several episodes last season, Hank was under a spell that caused him to be in love with Adelind, the Hexenbeast character played by Claire Coffee. Were you happy to get a romance in there?
HORNSBY: Absolutely. It was really exciting.
AX: Now that the spell is over, do we know how Hank feels about Adelind?
HORNSBY: No, I think now there are moments of sort of bewilderment, where he just doesn’t know which way is up. I think what we’re going to see in future episodes is him questioning his need to be on the force, questioning his job and what he’s doing and how the city and the environment has changed so much.
AX: Does he have any clue right now that he had been supernaturally tampered with?
HORNSBY: No. I don’t think he is aware at all that he was under a spell. He’s just trying to figure out what really happened.
AX: You obviously knew a lot before you even got the role about the detective side of Hank. Did you do any research into fairytales for that aspect of GRIMM?
HORNSBY: I had read more of the Grimm fairytales, and you do research for your character, but this has just opened a whole other sort of door for me, and just learning about this world. I really [hadn’t been] a genre actor in the past, so this is sort of a whole new world.
AX: Has GRIMM touched on any of your favorite childhood stories?
HORNSBY: Not as of yet. I mean, one of my favorites was always Rumpelstiltskin. I think there’s a wonderful social undertone to the story. Where I grew up and in my neighborhoods and whatnot, in my community, I think there’s just a larger socio-economic topic that it can touch upon.
AX: As far as deal-making, “I’ll do this for you, but you have to give me something you really don’t want to give me in order to get what you want”?
HORNSBY: Well, no. Honestly, as I’ve gotten older, I sort of examine Rumpelstiltskin as a pimp [laughs]. You know what I mean? So I think there would be something very interesting about delving into that aspect of the story. You turn on the television, and everything you see I think can be reflected in the show. So you’re talking about deal-making and you’re talking about the depths people will go to make money and what they need to do to get money from other people.
AX: Do you have a favorite episode that we’ve seen so far?
HORNSBY: You know, my favorite episode was “Game Ogre.” It was just that opportunity for me to be a badass, to get in there and fight a little bit. And the guy who was coming out for revenge, to get back at him. It was a lot of fun.
AX: Did you always want to be an actor?
HORNSBY: Yes. Since I was tenth grade, this is it.
AX: Do you also do theatre?
HORNSBY: I’m very prominent in the theatrical community. Two years ago, I was on Broadway with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in August Wilson’s FENCES. I am a theatrical. And this [GRIMM] is a wonderful departure from the stage. You get a little bit older now, you really realize what having a job is, and what it means, and that you are just blessed to have one. So you don’t take anything for granted any more.
AX: Anything else you’d like to say about working on GRIMM?
HORNSBY: My heart is in working. So I’m really excited to be working on GRIMM. Everybody’s excited to be here. The vibe is great.
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Article: Exclusive Interview: GRIMM star Russell Hornsby Talks Fairy-tales, Production and more