GRIMM: Russell Hornsby and Reggie Lee Interview (2012)

In the GRIMM world, fairytales do not have happy endings and supernatural creatures are not exactly warm-and-cuddly.  In fact, most are down-right dangerous and would just as soon have you for dinner, rather than over for dinner.  For Detective Nick Burkhardt things have gotten a whole lot more interesting after he found out that he can see these creatures in their true form and discovering out that his ancestry makes him a “grimm” – the one thing that all the creatures fear the most.  But Nick does not want to simply kill the creatures like his ancestors, he wants to be impartial unless provoked.  He will let everyone live in peace so long as no one breaks any laws.  He is a new kind of “grimm” and no one knows what to make of him.  But with such a powerful secret to protect, Nick’s partner Hank and his law enforcement peers have been kept in the dark.  Yet after last week’s tense episode in which it was revealed that Sergeant Wu had an adverse reaction to the love-potion cookies intended for Detective Hank Griffin, there are a few burning questions to be answered.  Fortunately, in a recent press conference call, co-stars Russell Hornsby and Reggie Lee were on hand to provide some answers.

Russell Hornsby as Det. Hank Griffin

Russell, you mentioned that earlier in the season that the longer Hank goes without knowing Nick is a GRIMM is better for the show. Now that you’ve worked on the series a bit more, do you still feel that way?

RUSSELL: Yes, I do, with hopes that he will eventually come into the light. I think that the way the stories have been laid out, I think it’s a wonderful journey for the audience as well. And we’ll see how long it goes before Hank comes into the light.

Reggie, how has GRIMM exceeded your expectations from when you first tested for the show?

REGGIE: Probably in a sense that they’ve been able to give us a slow burn of storylines. So we’ve been able to kind of sit with our characters for awhile. It’s exceeded expectations in terms of then being able to prolong this kind of series, even past the initial 13 episodes. I think they’ve done a great job in keeping the audience’s attention and keeping our attention as actors, because we get bored pretty easily. So it’s great that they give us not just a procedural aspect of things, but the mythological aspect. I think for all of us, who knows when we’re going to find out anything. And I think the slower the burn, the greater it is for us to be able to sit in there and kind of investigate our own lives.

 Reggie, what did you think when got the script for the episode “Island of Dreams?, when you saw that you were going to be literally chewing up the scenery?

REGGIE: I thought, “Thank God! Thank God I get to do something besides describe a crime scene.” No, it’s been great. Listen, even describing a crime scene and being amidst these two fantastic actors that I get to work with every week — every cop has their own story. Each one of us has their own story lines. But to go beyond that and kind of go wild and crazy like that is kind of what we live for. So I welcomed it and I welcome more things like that. Please.

Was that just kind of a random weirdness, or is there a method to that whole thing?

REGGIE: A method to the madness of the storyline? What I can tell you is initially when we were pitched our story lines, when we first tested for the show and- all that kind of stuff, we were given several story arcs and mine was one of addiction, which is why I think we all kind of signed on.  We all liked the mythological aspect of things. But as  with a series, it kind of plays different. And as you go episode to episode, they don’t know what’s going to happen and things may change accordingly based on how we interact, our chemistry, all that kind of stuff. So when this story line came about, they decided to infuse that whole addiction part into my character. And now how it plays out beyond that, you’ll have to check out in the next couple episodes because there’s a lot more to come, and I do more things. I literally more scenery.

Russell, do you find it more challenging to have to play a character who’s been kind of out of the loop of the bigger mythology as an actor?

RUSSELL: I actually enjoy it. I mean, first off, it’s just fun being on the show. It’s fun working with all the other actors and just collaborating with the writers and whatnot. And I don’t really see it as a challenge in so much as in a negative way. I just feel like the work itself — coming to work every day is the challenge that you’re ready for, that you’re working with open arms, and, it’s just been a lot of fun. I think just continuing to be able to use our imaginations in such a way, and the whole notion of:  I love my character just being in love with love. I really have enjoyed sort of falling down that rabbit hole up to this point. And whenever, whenever it’s time for my character to sort of peel back the curtain, I’m going to enjoy that time as well.

Do either of you have any special hopes for Season 2 for your character? Any things you’d like to see them grow to?

REGGIE: Well. for myself, I really hope for myself to be more involved in the mythology aspect. Now how they’re going to spin that and where they’re going to go with that, who knows? And I think they go story-by-story. So I’m hoping for more of that.

RUSSELL: And I have to sort of piggy-back on Reggie. I mean, I do hope that Hank is involved in more of the mythology going forward. I think it’ll just make for a more interesting dynamic for the show and a more interesting character dynamic as well with the relationship with Nick/Hank, and also probably Monroe as well.

REGGIE:  I have to echo that too. Well, another echo is that  all our characters somehow at some point have to be involved in each other’s personal lives. And I hope maybe all of us are kind of finding that that might happen in Season 2, and we’ll see how far they take that and how far that goes.

Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu

Reggie, how much do you know about Sergeant Wu’s back story? Where he comes from? How he kind of got where he is? And does he have a first name?

REGGIE: I’m pushing for Lou. I’m pushing for Sergeant Lou Wu. That’s what I’m pushing for. I think my first name at this point is Sergeant.  As a matter of fact, we were all at dinner the other night and we were teasing about that, and we were like, “Oh, yes. He doesn’t have a first name.”  So I put that in the hat. I think for all of us, myself in particular, because this character was kind of created along the way, this wasn’t intended at the beginning of the show, so I’ve had to create on my own from what I’ve been given in terms of lines and in terms of the little bit of back story that they’ve given me, which isn’t much. And, I don’t think any of us really have that much. Certainly, I think the other characters have more to go from, but I really kind of had to go from the several lines that I had in the pilot. And I kind of took that and I ran with it because I think you can’t — for myself at least, and I can only speak for myself. You can’t go episode to episode without knowing your life in some way, shape, or form. Now whether that is congruent to what they have in mind for you, I just kind of talk to them episode-to-episode if I have any question and go, “Are we in alignment? Are we on the same page?” And basically they’ve said, “Yes.” And I think we’ve kind of built, as series do — to build from episode to episode and see how your character goes and see what you bring to the table. And so I’ve kind of created along with them this kind of sardonic character, which I really love. And I think that sarcasm, all this kind of stuff has to come from somewhere, so I’ve created that for myself.  So to answer your question, we didn’t start with a lot. But I think we’ve fortunately come out with a pretty solid character.

Russell, how does it feel to play a character who is so different from your LINCOLN HEIGHTS character who’s very responsible and family-oriented, and now you have this more player-type of detective?

RUSSELL: Well, this is the alter ego of Eddie Sutton. Actually I love it. I welcome it. I think that Hank is a little closer to Russell’s sensibility, I guess. I mean, this is like the me before I got married in real life maybe where I get to just have some fun.  It’s sort of engaging being what I like to call real police. Sort of going from FATHER KNOWS BEST on LINCOLN HEIGHTS, to coming into more of a real world sensibility with GRIMM. We’re dealing with more procedural elements, which I appreciate. But, I also love dealing in the fantastical and the mythological aspect of the show. And I really just enjoy playing the character and sort of discovering the joy of Hank and having fun and having the sarcasm, the wit, and the bantering back and forth between Nick and Hank, David Giuntoli and myself. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s just a lot more fun.

Reggie, you talked about addiction for your character, how are we going to see this part of the character play out? Are you addicted to TV or your Turkish wall hangings in your apartment?

REGGIE: You have played close attention to my apartment, haven’t you?  There’s tons of stuff in there that’s interesting, because they really have done such a great job with that apartment. This addiction that we talked about was pitched to me initially by David Greenwalt when we started the show, and it was part of what intrigued me about this character. And now they’ve deiced to parlay it in a different way into these episodes in terms of me.  If you saw this last episode, I decided to steal that cookie and ate it and all these things started happening where I would eat different things. Well, you’ll see in the next few episodes how much more scenery I chew up. So from then on, I don’t have any idea how they’re going to parlay this into the bigger picture of the whole addiction story. And I hope they do more of that, but we’ll have to see how that plays out, because that is certainly part of my character that has been hinted to me.  So your guess is as good as mine, and I hope it keeps going further.

What’s it been like to see the show take off the way it has? Is it hard to walk down the streets of Portland now without kind of getting mauled by fans?

RUSSELL: Well, I’ll say my late night adventures have diminished quite a bit. It’s surreal to be honest. I mean, as Reggie, I’ve been in this business quite a number of years, and now people actually know my name for the first time ever. Before when people would look at you and they’d point and they’d go, “You’re that guy on that show, but…”, and now they go, “Hey, Hank, what’s up baby?” And it’s a lot of fun. It’s surreal. And my wife just keeps telling me, “Don’t let it go to your head.”

Juliette and Nick

REGGIE:  As Russell will attest, you don’t know what’s going to happen to a series from day-to-day. I mean, you really don’t know what the fans are thinking, what the network’s thinking, what anyone’s thinking, so you kind of stay in this world where you’re kind of protective of your feelings. You don’t want to get too excited that it’s going to get great reviews and keep going. Yet you have your hopes that it does. We’re so fortunate that people have kind of like tuned in and we’ve gotten this cult following. And people have gotten a little bit nuts. We were talking yesterday, people make T-shirts. They make little cartoons. We’ve gotten so many cartoons Tweeted to us. This morning I went to breakfast and people just recognize you and it’s great. Who doesn’t like that? It’s awesome.   Like Russell said, you got to keep your feet on the ground because you got to work and that’s essentially what it’s all about.

 Can you guys give us any hints on what’s going to come up in the season finale?

REGGIE: We just got that script, so we’re actually. We’re shooting the episode before the season finale.  I think the season finale will probably be something that – well, I can tell you that there are two cliffhangers going on.  So I think what they essentially wanted to do was close in on Nick’s world and the people around him — the people closest to him.

RUSSELL: He has to start making a decision as to how he’s going to live in these two worlds, and I think he’s getting closer to having to make a decision as to how he’s going to interact with Juliet and Hank, and sort of deal with these two worlds – the GRIMM world and this police procedural world. So I think we’re left with a wonderful cliffhanger where some lives are in the balance.

And Russell, what’s coming up for your character?

RUSSELL: Well, talking about that cookie that I ate last week, that chocolate chip cookie had some magical wonderment in it, and I think I’m falling deeper and deeper in love.  So we’re going to see Hank fall for Adeline Shade and they’re developing a relationship unbeknownst to Nick. And I think there’s going to be some hairy situations between the two of them between  where Nick has to kind of come to the aid of his partner because he’s in danger.

To see exactly where the GRIMM season is headed as the series rushes towards its first season finale, be sure to tune in Friday nights at 9:00 p.m. on NBC.  It’s where things that go bump in the night are really that scary!


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“Shining the Spotlight on Russell Hornsby of GRIMM”

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