Russell Hornsby Goes from ‘Father Knows Best’ to ‘Man Friday’ With ‘Grimm’

David Giuntioli, Russell Hornsby NBC photo

 The cast and crew on NBC’s “Grimm” have been toiling away on so many 14-16-hour production days, “We’ve had what they’ve labeled ‘Fraterdays’ — with people literally racing home to beat the sun,” reports Russell Hornsby.  “It’s crazy, but the reality is, when you’re working on an ambitious project like ‘Grimm,’ trying to create 43 minute-movies every week, that’s what you expect: long hours.”

 For those who’ve managed not to see the heavily-played “Grimm” promos, this is the show, premiering tonight (10/28), in which David Giuntioli plays a homicide detective who discovers he’s the last of a long line of men and women with the special ability to see horrible monsters walking among us.  And those dark Grimm’s fairy tales were real.  Hornsby is his police partner.

 Hornsby is well aware that his new show is a far cry from his critically-lauded “Lincoln Heights” ABC Family drama that was canceled after four seasons last year. 

“I go from ‘Father Knows Best to Man Friday,'” he quips.  “‘Lincoln Heights’ was great.  I had a wonderful time working on it.  And now I’m playing a police officer again.  I like playing police officers, playing men of authority.  But these two characters are very different.  Instead of a family man with one wife and three children, this guy has been married four times, and who knows where the children may be.  His approach to his work is completely different.  He’s more cynical.  Hank represents the world as you and I know it, who keeps the world solid and real.  I’m sort of there to balance things out, I believe, and keep the fantastical and supernatural elements in their proper context.”

Hornsby’s intrigued by those elements.  He says he enjoys fantasy, counting “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice In Wonderland” as two of his favorite stories.  The classically trained, Obie Award-winning actor used to pair his rendition of the Cowardly Lion with a Shakespeare piece to show his range on NY theater auditions.

With eight episodes of “Grimm” in the can so far, “I can say honestly that the cast is getting into a groove.  Once you sort of get on that train, you’re good.  The first episode or two, just dealing with the hours is challenging.  But you start to incorporate sleep when you can and adjust your eating habits and exercise, and you’re okay.   It’s a very good show.  The writers and producers (including Sean Hayes and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” David Greenwalt) think the possibiliteis are limitless as to what the show can be.  Our hope is that NBC gives us a little time, and the audience gives us a little time to find their show groove.  We need audience support.”