Exclusive Interview With Frank Grillo On The Purge: Anarchy



While not every actor has the good fortune of rising to stardom while nearing his 50s, that’s what makes Frank Grillo’s rocketing Hollywood stock so intriguing – in a good way. This workhorse of a man has been around since 1993, yet it wasn’t until recently that Grillo’s name became more commonplace around big-budget mainstream blockbusters. While most of you probably know him as Brock Rumlow in this year’s insanely successful Marvel endeavor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he’s already making himself known in another growing franchise by leading The Purge: Anarchy. It appears that comic book films are treating our star right – but will the horror genre be as friendly?

Sitting down with Frank in Coney Island one gloomy Friday afternoon, I got to pick the actor’s brain on all things righteous and badass. Branching out from typical questions about starring in a horror sequel, I eventually dug into his love for 70s action films, bantered about how they just don’t make ’em like they used to, and then eventually he laughed a lot while I tried to pump him for Marvel information. The actor was a brick wall – must have been all that HYDRA training!

In any case, enjoy our exclusive interview with Frank Grillo!

Alright, so you go from soap opera television shows to kicking people’s asses on a daily basis – which one of those tasks is harder for you? Doing something with straight drama, or the crazy action scenario?

Frank Grillo: Well, the soap opera was so long ago – the thing about soap operas, and there’s something to be said for doing it, but you do a script a day. I don’t want to say it’s a training ground, it really isn’t, but what it does teach you is discipline. In that aspect, it’s a great thing. When you do something like The Purge: Anarchy, where it’s very character driven, it’s not melodrama, it’s far more rewarding and intense as an actor – as opposed to one day showing up and finding your sister is your mother. That’s what soaps are. All of a sudden my father is married to my wife – how does that happen? [Laughs] It’s grounded in some sort of reality – of course The Purge: Anarchy isn’t reality, but what’s happening to the people is real. Listen, it’s been a long journey for me, I’m a journeyman, so at my age, at this point in my career, it’s still weird to be ascending instead of descending.

You’re battle-tested is how I’d phrase it…

Frank Grillo: I’m grateful for it, absolutely. I always used to ask myself, “Why am I going to the gym so much? What’s this really about?” Being physical has really helped in my career, so I’ll take it.

Are there any old-school action heroes you drew inspiration from for your latest role?

Frank Grillo: Great question. My favorite movie is The Outlaw Josey Wales with Clint Eastwood, a guy who gets his family killed by the bad guys then goes on a journey of revenge, eventually discovering himself – very existential. That was the jump-off for me. I said to [James] DeMonaco, “I want to be Josey Wales. He doesn’t say much, he’s a man of action, and he’s not sentimental, but by the end, you’re forced to feel what happens to him.” I think James pulled it off. He kept me on my rails, and the audience eventually gets to see who my character is.

Let’s have a little fun – which of your past characters would be best suited for The Purge?

Frank Grillo: I would like to think Brock Rumlow. You don’t have any idea about what’s really coming with Brock, and I do. That’s a guy who’s just a mercenary, he doesn’t even think twice, it’s all second nature to him. You don’t want to meet him out there during that night.

I figured that would be your answer, but thinking back to other movies like The Grey, I wasn’t sure if any other answers existed…

Frank Grillo: Yeah, but at the end, that’s a guy who’s not really fit for this kind of stuff, but that character was another interesting journey. A film that I love is Deliverance from back in the day. You start out with these archetypal characters – the hero, the bookworm, the pacifist – and by the end, it’s all turned upside down. I love that.

Can we talk quickly about the car your character drives in The Purge: Anarchy? That death-dealer is a beauty, but how does such a machine get put together by a civilian?

Frank Grillo: What you’ve got to remember is a lot of these materials are legal because they sell stuff for The Purge specifically. It was a standard Dodge Charger and I plated it up, enough to know – well, I wasn’t really planning on battling anybody. I’m not even sure if I was planning on living through the night. But it was a cool car though, right?! We actually did some additional photography to get the car in a little more. It’s a little Mad Max-ish…

Thank you for bringing that up, because I saw a lot of Mel Gibson in your performance…

Frank Grillo: I’m a bit older than you, and my favorite films are ones from the 70s with guys like Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, early Mel Gibson – they didn’t talk a lot, but when you looked at them, you knew it was going down. They got shit done! I like to think that’s my character.

Look even farther and you reach an era where action heroes ballooned in size – heavyweights like Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Lundgren. Your body type plays much more to that silent but deadly 70s mentality…

Frank Grillo: I’m a regular guy, I’m barely five/ten! I’m not a big dude, I’m not The Rock…

Yet there’s a scene where you choke out a criminal much larger than you, and you do it with such ease…

Frank Grillo: What people don’t know is that I’m a blackbelt in jujitsu, which I’ve been for 20 years, and I’ve been boxing since I’ve been 15 years old – those are things that come natural to me. Believe it or not, I just got hired to do [the remake of] The Raid. There’s a void in Hollywood of guys around my age who are substantial when it comes to that kind of thing, so if I fill that void in some way for people, I’m game.

I’m assuming you’ve seen the original The Raid, then?

Frank Grillo: I loved [the original]. Patrick Hughes, who just directed The Expendables 3 – great guy, full of life like Joe Carnahan –  is doing the remake, and we’ve got to do this justice. It’s a fanboy favorite.

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