Considering his loves for both the grittiness of cop procedurals and the mysticism of fantasy film, the role of homicide detective Hank Griffin on NBC's fantastical "Grimm" seems to be tailor-made for Russell Hornsby.
"I'm a big fan of the 'Law & Order' series, was a really, really big fan of 'Homicide: Life on the Street' -- that's always been just a joy of mine. But also at the same time I do like fantasy. My favorite movie of all time is 'The Wizard of Oz' -- just that whole notion there's somewhere else, and if you can imagine it, it can happen," the actor tells Metro.
Hornsby, who spoke with us from Portland, Ore., where "Grimm" films ("It's a wonderful respite from Los Angeles," he says), is in the midst of a love arc on the show.
"Hank has sort of been put under a love spell. That's about all I can divulge at this point," he says. "We have met this girl, she is a familiar face, and of course there's all these other machinations that root and ulterior motives, so it makes for a very 'Grimm'-sical moment."
That's "Grimm"-sical, not whimsical, because the shows have an ominous subtext. The Brothers Grimms' fairy tales "served as warnings, as cautionary tales," Hornsby tells us, which adds a darker edge he says isn't found on that other prime time fairy-tale drama, ABC's "Once Upon a Time."
"I think the only thing that we have in common is that we're using Grimms' fairy tales," he says. "Other than that, I don't think that we're all that similar. 'Once Upon a Time' is done very much in a Disney fashion, and I think that what we're doing with 'Grimm' is really telling the stories the way they were originally intended."
It isn't child's play
The Oxford-educated Hornsby has some deep thoughts about one fairy tale in particular.
"I always found 'Rumpelstiltskin' to be very intriguing," he says. "And I think it has a lot of parallels with what's going on today, how men feel that they have the right to control women, whether it be mentally or physically. I think that's an interesting observation as to an underlying theme of the story: [It's] about control. I'm from a time when we romanticized the whole notion of pimps and prostitutes, and when you're young you think that that idea is cool. As you grow older, you see how wrong it is, and so when you talk about the Grimms' fairy tales being cautionary tales, now we realize they're not cautionary tales for just children -- they're cautionary tales for us all."