‘Grimm’: Russell Hornsby talks monster finale, mysterious future

May 16, 2014 | 3:34 p.m.
Hornsby as Hank Griffin. (Scott Green/NBC)

Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin on “Grimm.” (Scott Green/NBC)

The Season 3 finale of “Grimm” arrives Friday evening with a festive twist — the episode sees Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner) wed, and it’s Hank Griffin, played by actor Russell Hornsby, who has the pleasure of giving away the bride.

One of the few human characters on the supernatural NBC series, Hornsby’s Griffin is called up to lend a grounded perspective to the often outrageous adventures. He’s faced monsters and kept his sanity (unlike fellow human Sgt. Wu, played by Reggie Lee, who has in the past temporarily tipped into madness), and he understands the true nature of his partner, Portland Det. Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli.)

In advance of Friday’s episode, Hero Complex caught up with Hornsby to chat about the season finale, Hank’s role in the series’ ongoing narrative and when the detective might find a little companionship.

Check out a clip from the finale below.

Hero Complex: In the season finale, Hank will walk Rosalee down the aisle at her marriage to Monroe. Is that something you could have initially envisioned?

Russell Hornsby: No. Honestly, I didn’t envision [“Grimm”] going past 13 episodes. The truth is, the writers don’t really tell us much. You’re really forced to be a blank canvas. I had no idea that we would be here. They can go six different ways to get to Sunday, but you have to keep the audience engaged. We’ve created a wonderful ensemble, and there’s a lot of different characters for the fans to love and follow and appreciate, and I think that’s good. It will be a key to the success and longevity of the show because you can always take a few detours every once in a while — like we did with Wu and the Aswang. With me, and that whole thing with Adalind the first season and my moment of having a love interest, and all of that entwined with Nick and all that he has to deal with, then bringing in the young lady Trubel [Jacqueline Toboni] — all of those things help us flush out and open up more story lines.

HC: Hank is unique in that he has encountered Wesen and kept his wits. How did you prepare for the scene in which he experiences his first Wesen sighting?

RH: It’s really about just allowing your imagination to run. Growing up, I was severely afraid of dogs, almost to the point where I was skittish at the sight of them — if they barked, I’d jump. So I did a little sense memory — you take yourself back there. I used the Wesen as the dog for that first initial sight of them, that’s what I used. But then, as time went on, growing up in Oakland, I used that whole crack metaphor or a crack head, the walking dead or the living dead. That’s what I see when I think of what some of the Wesen would look like to Hank. As a police officer, you’ve dealt with all kinds of people and addictive types of behavior that happens. So when Hank sees somebody transform, it’s almost like looking at a fiend. You think to yourself, who was that person when they were handsome and young and pretty or attractive? When everything in life was going well? And who have they become now?

From left, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, Jacqueline Toboni as Teresa Rubel in NBC's "Grimm." (Scott Green/NBC)

From left, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, Jacqueline Toboni as Trubel in NBC’s “Grimm.” (Scott Green/NBC)

HC: Was there a specific Wesen that you’ve seen that elicited a visceral reaction?

RH: I can’t pick just one, really. When you really get to see the detail and the artistry that goes into creating these creatures, I’m really wowed and awed by that. Each one that I see, one is just better than the next. As Russell, I’m more wowed by it in my appreciation of the artistry. As Hank, in his mind, they’re all just monsters.

HC: In Nick’s crazy Grimm life, Hank seems to be his anchor to the real world.

RH: I think there’s a lot of truth to that. It’s interesting, though, as the show goes on, to see how much Hank will have to get drawn into that world. Will he be able to make the same choices as a police officer — being grounded in the real world as a police officer — versus being conflicted as a police officer and a Grimm? I think as he gets further into dealing with the creatures with Nick, he will have that conflict. That’s going to be interesting, when he can’t differentiate between a crime that they deal with as police officers or something that we have to do as Grimms. If he’s going to have to go into this world, he’s going to have to deal with things a different way and sometimes turn a blind eye to things. And, isn’t that how corruption happens? You have all of the good intention in the world, then all of a sudden, you get pulled into something and you’re making different choices. Then you’re in a position where you might be compromising yourself and others.

HC: You alluded to Hank’s relationship with Zuri. Is there likely to be a new romance in the character’s future?

RH: I don’t know. I hope that will come, but the reality of it is I don’t know if that moves the story forward. Hank’s not so central to the storytelling. He’s the partner to the Grimm. It’s hard to go off on a tangent like that. I think that what they did with Sharon Leal and I was pretty much all that you could hope for and not diverge from the central theme of the show.

Sharon Leal as Zuri Ellis and Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin in "Grimm." (Scott Green/NBC)

Sharon Leal as Zuri Ellis and Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin in “Grimm.” (Scott Green/NBC)

HC: What can you say about what direction “Grimm” might take next season?

RH: I couldn’t even begin to speculate. I don’t know what they’re going to do. We have this wedding, and I don’t know where they’re trying to take that. We have this new girl Trubel, and I don’t know how long she’s going to stay. They haven’t told us anything. They haven’t told us when or if they’re going to let Wu in on the truth. They haven’t said any of that. They keep it very tight-lipped.

HC: Do you like that?

RH: I love it. I appreciate being surprised. It’s like someone telling you the end before you read the book. I want to be surprised week after week. That’s fun, especially after you’ve been doing the same show for 66 episodes or so. You know what, don’t tell me. I’d rather just read the script. Just tell me if you’re going to kill me off. I don’t want to be surprised by that, but anything else, I’ll just read it.

HC: How have you been impacted by the series’ devoted fan following?

RH: Obviously, it’s one of the keys to our success. They love it here in America, and they also love it worldwide. That’ll be key to the show’s longevity — the fan support. How I feel … I was overwhelmed by it, to be honest, initially. I never dealt with something like this. I’ve been in the business for a long time… I think I have a very humble approach. I’m a lot more grounded than I would have been if this had happened to me 10 years ago. I’ve suffered through so many peaks and valleys in this business that the whole idea of fame and celebrity doesn’t faze me. You realize that it’s all smoke and mirrors, and that it’s all fleeting. Chicken one day, feathers the next. One day ham and bacon, next day ain’t nothing shaking. I’m only hot while the show is on. I’m not an entity unto myself. I’m not Denzel. I’m not Morgan Freeman. I’m not Fishburne. So, it’s like, how dare you even begin to have some sort of ego? You can’t eat off of that.

Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin and David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt in "Grimm." (Scott Green/NBC)

Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin and David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt in “Grimm.” (Scott Green/NBC)

Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the great Roscoe Lee Brown. We were in New York at Sardi’s, an old-school theater hang at an event with all kinds of actors. He says to me — he’s one of those proper fellows — he says, “Son, I’ve been watching you for a long time. I’ve seen your work and I think you’re fabulous and you’re handsome. But you must understand, never mistake your presence for the event and you will go far.” When you get words of wisdom like that from a legend — having been imparted knowledge like that — I’ve got to stay grounded.

— Jevon Phillips | @storiz@LATherocomplex


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3 Responses to ‘Grimm’: Russell Hornsby talks monster finale, mysterious future

  1. Dorothy Whitesell says:

    Nick has to get his Grimm back

  2. Dario Barraza says:

    Is the Trouble a Reg. cast member now? I think she is great for the show!

  3. julio says:

    I love Trubel!!!!!!!

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