Go Away With … Russell Hornsby

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
December 20, 2016

Actor Russell Hornsby is technically based out of Los Angeles, but he has lived in Portland for the past six years working on the NBC series “Grimm.” His latest role is opposite Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in the feature film adaptation of “Fences,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by August Wilson: “We filmed in Pittsburgh, which is the setting for ‘Fences.’ It added a level of authenticity and the city became another character. My father is from there and I had been there as a young child, but it felt like this was my first real time in Pittsburgh. It’s a burgeoning city that came out of the rubble of the steel mill and created a new identity. The city offers so much and has also become a very foodie-friendly city that embraces artists. I look forward to returning.”

He has also been added to the cast of the Netflix crime drama, “Seven Seconds.” Fans may follow Hornsby on Twitter.

Q. What are some of your favorite destinations?

A. We’ve been to Venice and Florence, had beautiful times in Istanbul, Hong Kong, Seoul and spent a couple days exploring Vietnam. A few years ago, we had a wonderful opportunity to go to Africa and visited Cape Town, Johannesburg and Tanzania. We went on a safari in Namibia. We went on our honeymoon in Australia. My wife has colleagues in Melbourne and we went there during their summer. We went to the Sydney Opera House and saw “M. Butterfly.” We’ve been to France and London.

Q. It seems like your wife likes to travel as much as you do.

A. I have a travel bug, but my wife is a travel roach! The first question she asked me when we met was, “Do you have a passport?” Of course, I did. I had been to England and France and parts of Sweden. I didn’t realize until later that she was testing me. In 2007, I finished a play and we went to Italy together and had a wonderful time. We turned out to be great travel partners. Years later, she admitted that if we hadn’t traveled well, it would’ve been over between us. (Laughs) She really got me excited to go to places and travel as much as possible. Whenever we had a week or two free, we would get on a plane and go. We never stayed still. There was a good six-year period where we were gone every holiday and Christmas. We would just get up and go to Nicaragua, Peru, wherever. We always wanted to go someplace warm when we were living in New York.

Q. Do you travel much with your son?

A. Yes! He could be a platinum member of American Airlines. He has been flying back and forth since he was three months old, between Portland, New York and Boston, where we have family. Last year, when he was six months old, we went to Costa Rica so that we could be in the sun. My wife is pregnant with another baby, due on March 28, and we’re planning on taking both boys with us everywhere.

Q. Not everyone has the time or money to visit a foreign country. What do you recommend to them?

A. It’s just about stepping out of your comfort zone and not being afraid of trying new things. Even in your hometown, there are plenty of things to see and do. Try different restaurants, walk through different neighborhoods and experience the different cultures that are just miles away from you. Go visit museums and do things that people don’t take advantage of unless they’re showing guests around. Be a tourist in your own city!

Q. Are you an adventurous eater?

A. Yes! I eat everything. My wife and I are game for any kind of food and drink. You get to really know a culture by eating native dishes.

Q. Where have you enjoyed your favorite meals?

A. The food in Italy, specifically Florence, was wonderful. The street food was perfect in Istanbul. You could get fresh fish right off the grill that had literally been in the ocean just a few minutes ago for like $3. I would eat three whole medium-sized fish. You didn’t need anything on it. The salt from the ocean seasoned it perfectly. In Vietnam, we only ate in one restaurant, because the street carts were so good. Half the time, we didn’t even know what the heck we were eating, but we didn’t care. In Korea, I ate barbecue, kimchi, japchae (noodles), delicious fermented dishes and all sorts of pickled cucumbers and eggplant. Everything was seasoned so damned good. I have never been to Japan or China, but I definitely want to go one day.

Q. How adept are you at foreign languages?

A. I’m not fluent in any other languages. I can get by in Spanish-speaking countries with some sentences and my body language. I’ve become a pro at charades. (Laughs) When I ask people for directions, without fail, I always talk in some fake, foreign accent and it’s stupid, but I always do that. My wife’s like, “What are you doing?” I don’t know! I can’t stop myself. I probably entertain people more than anything else.

Q. Where would you like to go to that you haven’t been to before?
A. I haven’t been to China or Japan yet and would love to go. The food! My wife wants to go to the Maldives next, so we’re trying to carve out some time to go there.

Q. Do you have any travel regrets?
A. Yes! I want to kick myself now. We were in Turkey about five years ago and my wife said, “Let’s just go to Croatia right now!” I was like, “Woman, are you crazy?” I wish we had gone, but that was me being stubborn.

Q. How do you prepare for vacations?
A. Whenever I plan a trip, I pick up a guidebook and then my wife and I study up on the history and make plans to see sites. But I always leave time open for things to happen, to sort of just get off the beaten path. We’ve talked to locals to find out where they go to eat and have had people tell us, “My friend, go to so and so across the street and try this or that.” I’m game to eat anything, so I’ll let the chef or the street cart vendor recommend what I should eat or drink.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM

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  1. Russell Hornsby says:

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