Paralysed detective out to nab serial killer in 'Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For The Bone Collector'

  • Entertainment
  • Friday, 07 Aug 2020

Russell Hornsby (second from right) stars in 'Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For The Bone Collector'. Photo: Handout

The character of Lincoln Rhyme, a quadriplegic detective who chases serial killers, will be no stranger to fans of Jeffery Deaver’s crime novels.

But the last time he was spotted on screen was in The Bone Collector, the 1999 film based on the Deaver book of the same name starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

Now, the wheelchair-using forensics expert is finally getting his own television show, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For The Bone Collector.

The story begins with a new murder pointing to the resurfacing of the Bone Collector, one of the most infamous serial killers still at large in the United States.

Despite an accident on the job leaving him paralysed, Rhyme (Russell Hornsby), a New York City police detective, attempts to track him down once and for all. Helping him is rookie officer Amelia Sachs (Arielle Kebbel), who becomes the Watson to his Sherlock.

For Hornsby, the challenge was imbuing the character – a brilliant criminologist with an ego to match – with an unshakeable confidence despite his limited ability to move.

And the actor did this by channelling his own upbringing, theatre background and a sort of hip-hop attitude, he says.

Speaking to reporters in Los Angeles, Hornsby – a classically trained stage performer who has appeared in films such as The Hate U Give (2018) and the fantasy series Grimm (2011 to 2017) – says his thespian background proved invaluable.

“In theatre training, the first thing they teach you is to stand flat-footed on the stage and let the words work for you.

“And because of my conservatory training at Boston University, you’re steeped in Shakespeare, and Shakespeare is about standing still on the stage and presenting the text, ” says the 46-year-old.

The main quality he wanted to give Rhyme was a certain confidence or “swagger” and the actor looked to his own background for some of this.

“Being a black man from Oakland, California, and raised in hip-hop, we lend ourselves to the idea of swagger – how one walks and everything like that, ” he says.

“Lincoln has a cerebral swagger and that’s why I’m using Shakespeare as a model. It’s how he colours his words, his emphasis, where he takes pauses and beats, because that’s very theatrical.

“Because Lincoln can’t move, he has to use a theatrical tone as emphasis to help tell the story. So you’ll hear, in a sense, a heightened Lincoln. It’s a heightened language and that’s purposeful.”

The series makes a few tweaks to the source material, the best-selling novel The Bone Collector, which has inspired more than a dozen sequels.

One that might disappoint fans of the books and the film is the decision to kill any hint of romance between Rhyme and Sachs, with the show instead hinting at the possibility that Rhyme might reconcile with his ex-wife.

And unlike in the novel, Rhyme will not be suicidal over the accident that left him disabled because that seemed too dark a place to begin the show, its producers say.The story has also been updated for the 21st century, with Rhyme getting more toys to play with than he did in the 1990s, when the tools available to a wheelchair-using detective were less advanced.

Hornsby says the new technologies that have arisen in the two decades since “change his situation immensely”.

This is one reason Rhyme is more mobile than in previous iterations of the story. “From Episode 1 to Episode 2, Lincoln goes from the bed to a wheelchair, and that kind of mechanical wheelchair wasn’t really there to the same degree 20 years ago.”

And as with the Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, modern technology will “enhance the visual capabilities” of the show, Hornsby adds.

“We’re in a visual medium, so when you talk about Lincoln’s genius, now, instead of telling you how brilliant he is, we can show you using computer graphics to enhance the storytelling and give people a reason to lean into what they’re watching.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For The Bone Collector airs every Tuesday at 9.45pm on AXN (Astro Ch 701).

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