Russell Hornsby
Credit: Scott Green/NBC
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Tonight’s episode of Grimm was a game-changer for Detective Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby). Fans who watched the NBC show’s latest episode, called “Bad Moon Rising,” know that things are never going to be the same for this Portland police detective.

SPOILER ALERT! Stop reading if you don’t want to find out what happens in episode 3 of Grimm’s second season.

Grimm has always been a mash-up of fantasy and police procedural, but Hornsby has primarily only lived in the procedural side of the show since Hank has been kept in the dark about Nick’s monster-hunting secrets. Now that’s all changed, as Nick is forced in tonight’s episode to tell Hank about the Wesen world and his Grimming ways.

Hornsby took a break from shooting the eighth episode of Grimm’s current season to talk with EW about this turning point for his character. Read on to learn what it’s been like for Hornsby to step into the supernatural side of the show, what this means for Nick and Hank’s relationship and which real-world wave of crime he drew from for his performance.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve been part of a genre show for about a year now but haven’t really gotten to delve into the fantasy/horror aspects of it. How has it been to finally take the full leap into that side of the show?

RUSSELL HORNSBY: It’s actually comforting to know that Hank can now sort of be in on the whole deal, and I think it’s gonna make for a much more interesting and compelling show going forward. I think that it’s going to enhance the dynamics of our relationship between Nick and Hank, and I also think that it’s much more interesting for the audience to watch the character of Hank grow. Now it becomes a much more character-driven piece than it was just being a procedural for Hank. There’s real pathos now. And so there’s a lot more ways that the character can be affected by his surroundings than ever before. It’s what I hoped would happen, and it has, and so now it’s onward and upward and we can really just delve a lot more deeper into the show’s genre aspects.

How would you characterize where Hank is at the end of this episode – does he still have doubts about his sanity, or is he really starting to understand and accept that there’s this monster, Wesen side to the world he didn’t know about?

I think he wants to understand it. Now that it’s been sort of explained to him, he gets it. Of course there’s gonna be a lot more peeling of the onion, obviously, but I think he’s embracing it. I don’t think he’s skeptical. No more doubts and no more skepticism really. He’s curious, actually. I think he wants to learn and understand more. Him being a police officer, it’s one of those things where he realizes, “Well, then I haven’t seen it all. I guess there’s something else I have to learn.” What I’ve been told, talking to a lot of law enforcement people who were working during the ’80s and the ’90s, they said that they thought they had seen it all until crack hit. And they literally saw people turn into demons. So I have always compared it to that. I sort of use that analogy now. This is his crack. He thought he had seen it all until this, and now that this has hit, he’s saying, “I’m going to have to take a new approach to fighting crime,” much like people had to do for the crack epidemic. “We have to come up with a new way to fight crime.” For Hank – and for Nick too before – but now for Hank, there’s such a learning curve. But I think he’s embracing it.

When did you talk to police officers about this – was that during your prep for Grimm?

I’ve done police dramas before [including ABC Family show Lincoln Heights]. I had talked to and rode along with Boston city police. I have two uncles in Boston – one’s in law enforcement, and the other one’s in the judicial system. And so I got a real first-hand account of what that’s like.

Mark Pellegrino, who’s a bit of a fan favorite in genre television with shows like Lost and Supernatural on his resume, guest stars in this episode. What was it like to work with him?

Mark’s a very gifted, very talented and smart actor. I appreciate the way he approached his work in that it’s very honest. He does not strike me as a superficial actor or a superficial person. I had never seen his work prior to working on this show, so all I had to go with was what he brought to the episode. It was very honest and very true and engaging.

In the scene in the barn near end of this episode, we see something shift in Hank after Carly reveals her Coyotl self. He freaks out but then really manages to pull himself together. Tell me a bit about shooting that scene and how you decided to approach this shift for Hank.

You approach it from a place of truth. What I try to do is make interesting substitutions from some real-life instances. And I don’t want to necessarily be specific in terms of what I used, but you sort of make substitutions. I approached it thinking of a young lady who I’ve known all her life and watching her change right in front of my eyes into a different person, and what does that change mean in the relationship, and what does it mean moving forward?

What’s coming up next for Hank? How much are we going to see Hank and Nick battling Wesen together?

Well, I think we’re going to hit the ground running. We held off with this as long as we could, and now that the cat’s out of the bag, we’re really going at it. So now these guys are connected at the hip and will be fighting crimes side-by-side.

We haven’t seen any scenes with both Hank and Juliette since before her coma. What’s Hank’s involvement in that storyline going to be?

My involvement in that storyline is very peripheral because I’m not clued in as to what happened with her really. Hank just knows that she was in a coma and she’s still having trouble remembering.

Are we going to see Hank in Aunt Marie’s trailer soon?

You know what? That I can’t say.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

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