Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things Are Grimm for Russell Hornsby

Russell Hornsby

Russell Hornsby is having quite the career. He’s mastered the stage, has appeared in several films and is now a regular in yet another television series.

His latest prime-time gig is on the new NBC drama, Grimm, set to debut at 9/8c on NBC, Oct. 28.

Grimm centers around Portland detective turned Grimm-creature profiler Nick Burkhardt, played by David Guintoli, who thought he was prepared for the realities of working as a homicide detective, until he started seeing things he couldn't explain.

Hornsby plays Burkhardt’s partner, Hank Griffin, who is blind to Nick’s new powers.

Before Grimm, Hornsby, who attended Boston University, College of Fine Arts, and the University of Oxford, appeared in the ABC Family series, Lincoln Heights, where he played Eddie Sutton, a cop, who was married with three children.

Most recently, he starred opposite Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in August Wilson's "Fences." Some of his other credits include: "In Treatment," opposite Gabriel Byrne and Diane Weist; Showtime's "Shameless," "Law and Order," "Grey's Anatomy," "The Good Wife," and "Playmakers." His feature film credits include "After the Sunset," "Big Fat Liar," Get Rich or Die Tryin'," "Meet the Parents" and "Stuck."

A master thespian, his theater credits include "King Hedley," "Gem of the Ocean," "Two Trains Running," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Joe Louis Blues" and "Six Degrees of Separation."

David Guintoli and Russell Hornsby in Grimm

I caught up with Hornsby recently to talk about his latest role and his career in general.

DD: Tell me about your new role on Grimm.

RH: Hank Griffin is what I like to call, good police.  He doesn’t have any special sensibilities, special powers, but he is a really good detective, a veteran of the force who has been married four times. He’s presently single. I say that only because I think there will be some interesting twists as we develop the series that are going to involve the knowledge he acquired from being married four times.

DD: Is it about the paranormal?

RH: It’s not so much about the paranormal. I would say it is a fantasy construct in a real world. Take the idea that there are real people among us who are dark, have dark sensibilities. Their vibe, their energy is negative.  We’re taking these fairytales, we’re spinning them on its head, we’re fracturing them a little bit and placing them right here in the real world.  So you would ask yourself how does Little Red Riding Hood, how does that story evolve in the real world? It can’t.  Take that idea, they’re not parallel universes, it’s all one.

DD: Have you ever met someone and thought, hmmmmm?

RH: Absolutely, of course. When you feel you have light on you, you can feel where darkness is coming from. It’s that mother thing. That six sense. It’s their vibe, their spirit. There are people who can look at you and say, ‘hey, baby, you’re shining like new money.’

DD: Would you want the abilities that Nick has in the series? Would you want your character to also have the same abilities?

RH: For me, no, that’s a lot of responsibility. I don’t know how my character would be able to work under that kind of pressure.

DD: You’ve just discontinued playing a cop, why do you want to play another one?

RH: I think that we’re talking about an actual patrolman versus a detective. I think the characters are different. If you look at Lincoln Heights and you look at Grimm, the shows are apples and oranges. This is a totally different character in another world that is a bit darker. It’s real, real in a different way than Lincoln Heights was.  In this, things don’t always end positively. My character is going to act and react accordingly.

Russell Hornsby

DD: What was the appeal of this character?

RH: I think taking the spiritual aspect and how committed they are to telling real stories. We can live in a fantasy world, but we can delve and deal with some real issues. That was the appeal.

DD: You own the stage. What does stage give you that tv doesn’t and what does tv give you that stage doesn’t?

RH: I think that stage, especially the roles I’ve done, which is mostly August Wilson, I’m speaking of my people for my people and by my people. I’m speaking in a spirit and vernacular and energy that I know. They’re my folks.  That spirit is in me, so I can express myself without any hindrance. I can live it out loud. It’s pure. That’s what the stage is to me. I can be as loud and or soft as I want, vulnerable. TV is different because you have to fit yourself in a box. There are parameters you have to fill. The characters aren’t always as three dimensional. There isn’t the same detail in a backstory. Your scope and take is different.   Whereas in theater I can do that.

DD: A lot of actors aren’t working. You seem to work all the time.

RH: I’m going in the direction my blood beats. This is a calling now. I’m not the greatest actor or smartest, but I know what I love to do and I know what I’m good at. I am in possession of a talent – that’s why I continue to work.

DD: Sounds like you’re blessed.

RH: I’m blessed, but you have to be in possession of talent. You can’t work 14 years without being in the possession of talent. This is what I love to do. I think I’m good at it.  I have a tireless dedication. This is my job. Acting is cathartic. Acting is therapy.

DD: Why should we watch your show?

RH: We’ve created an original concept. It’s going to be fun, smart and witty. It’ll be dramatic and action-filled. Tune in. You’ve got to give it a shot.

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