Vincent Kartheiser as Bodie Quick, Riley Smith as Levi Scott, Nikki M. James as Violet Price, Russell Hornsby as Easy Boudreau, Rachelle Lefevre as Madeline Scott and Kelsey Grammer as Gore Bellows in PROVEN INNOCENT | ©2018 Fox/Michael Becker

Vincent Kartheiser as Bodie Quick, Riley Smith as Levi Scott, Nikki M. James as Violet Price, Russell Hornsby as Easy Boudreau, Rachelle Lefevre as Madeline Scott and Kelsey Grammer as Gore Bellows in PROVEN INNOCENT | ©2018 Fox/Michael Becker

In Fox’s new Friday-night drama PROVEN INNOCENT, a group of Chicago-based lawyers work to exonerated wrongfully convicted defendants. Their work is based on the real-life Innocence Project.

Russell Hornsby plays Ezekiel “Easy” Boudreau, the leader of the legal group. San Francisco native Hornsby recently won Best Supporting Awards from the African-American Film Critics Association and the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society for his work in the film THE HATE U GIVE and a Black Reel Award for his work in the TV miniseries SEVEN SECONDS. Hornsby played Seattle P.D. detective Hank Griffin (one of the show’s few non-human characters) on six seasons of GRIMM. Other recent film credits include CREED II and the Denzel-Washington-directed FENCES.

ASSIGNMENT X: In TV series terms, you’re going from being a police detective to being a lawyer. Are you enjoying the legal theme in your career?

HORNSBY: Well, I love the idea of being able to serve and protect. But also, I like the idea of actually playing a grownup. Do you know what I mean? So putting my badge and my gun down, and putting on a suit and tie, and serving the people in a different way.

Russell Hornsby and Kelsey Grammer in PROVEN INNOCENT - Season 1 | ©2018 Fox/Jean Whiteside

Russell Hornsby and Kelsey Grammer in PROVEN INNOCENT – Season 1 | ©2018 Fox/Jean Whiteside

AX: How aware were you of the Innocence Project before you got involved in PROVEN INNOCENT?

HORNSBY: I knew it existed, but I wasn’t fully aware of it, to be honest with you, or its reach. I still have a lot more learning to do about it, but from what I’ve listened to, from what I’ve read, it’s very in-depth, and very involved, and helps a lot of people. But I’m excited to learn more.

AX: Is this your first time playing a lawyer?

HORNSBY: It is.

AX: Did you do research into lawyerly subjects when you got the role in PROVEN INNOCENT?

HORNSBY: I did a little research. I’m reading novels, watching SERIAL, certain podcasts that are telling these stories and whatnot.  But also, I’m just kind of going off of life lived, articles I’ve read, books I’ve read, stories, everything like that, and dealing with it that way, coming into it fresh, and learning as I go.

AX: You’re also playing the head of the project. Is that different than playing somebody who’s just a member of the department?

HORNSBY: Yeah. I think what’s beautiful about it, though, is the character has a lot more interesting dynamics. But it is the first time I’ve played an authoritative figure.

AX: Are you enjoying that?

HORNSBY: I am.

AX: Do you have to do anything differently as an actor to play that?

HORNSBY: I think my composure is different. It’s a different kind of character. His manner is just going to be different. I think he comports himself differently, which is going to take a little getting used to, but should be fun.

Vincent Kartheiser as Bodie Quick, Riley Smith as Levi Scott, Nikki M. James as Violet Price, Russell Hornsby as Easy Boudreau, Rachelle Lefevre as Madeline Scott and Kelsey Grammer as Gore Bellows in PROVEN INNOCENT | ©2018 Fox/Michael Becker

Vincent Kartheiser as Bodie Quick, Riley Smith as Levi Scott, Nikki M. James as Violet Price, Russell Hornsby as Easy Boudreau, Rachelle Lefevre as Madeline Scott and Kelsey Grammer as Gore Bellows in PROVEN INNOCENT | ©2018 Fox/Michael Becker

AX: The PROVEN INNOCENCE pilot was directed by Patricia Riggen, who also did the feature THE 33, the drama about the real-life trapped Argentinean miners. How was working with her?

HORNSBY: It was a joy for me. What I appreciate about Patricia is that she’s passionate. So she and I would just have these really deep, passionate conversations about the collaborative process, about what a scene needs, or what a moment needs, or how to infuse a moment with a different kind of energy. And that’s what I really appreciate, because she has her beliefs, and she had the direction that she takes a tone that a scene should go. And as an actor, I have mine. But the real beauty of collaboration with someone who is so passionate was a lot of fun and is a joy.

AX: How is working with this group of people on PROVEN INNOCENT?

HORNSBY: This group is fantastic. It’s a group of talented actors who enjoy what they do and have fun doing it. And they’re good at it. That’s the other thing. That’s important.

AX: When you read the scripts, do you start out going, “Well, how are they going to establish this person’s innocence?”

HORNSBY: I’m putting my faith in the writers, and I’m looking at every script as breadcrumbs, as Hansel and Gretel trying to get back to the house.

Russell Hornsby in PROVEN INNOCENT - Season 1 | ©2018 Fox/Michael Becker

Russell Hornsby in PROVEN INNOCENT – Season 1 | ©2018 Fox/Michael Becker

AX: Were you happy with the way GRIMM wrapped up, or do you think Hank should have still been there at the end?

HORNSBY: I’m happy with it. You have to end it at some point, and I think what they did was eventful and interesting.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about PROVEN INNOCENT?

HORNSBY: That it’s a show that will help you think and hopefully understand.

This interview was conducted during Fox Networks’ portion of the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.

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Article: PROVEN INNOCENT  – Russell Hornsby chats about his new Fox legal series –  Exclusive Interview

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