2016 is shaping up to be the year of Frank Grillo. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Maybe you haven’t. To many, he is that guy. To others, he is one of the best action stars in Hollywood. To me, he’s THE cinematic action hero and let me tell you why.
People ask me all the time why I tweet, share, and write about Frank Grillo so much. Instead of just saying, “it’s my page why the fuck not!”, I indulge in their comments. Things like “why write about him he doesn’t care about you” to “Are you being paid for this?” come to me and I laugh. They don’t get it. It would be easier for them if I showed this kind of admiration for a Justin Bieber, Lebron James or another famous face. Why Grillo? Let me tell you.
Few Hollywood stars take their craft more serious than Grillo. Actually, no one does. Few cinematic asskickers cut the bullshit as hard as Grillo does. Why can’t you admire someone because they take their job very seriously and work hard at it so the fans get what they paid for come showtime?
An example. Remember Die Hard? A scene during it where Bruce Willis fights the main henchman’s brother on the top floor of the Nakatomi Plaza is a scene I will never forget. It wasn’t just for the fact that it was well choreographed. Willis’ John McClane fights the brother, they fall down steps, and the bad guy’s neck snaps and McClane steals his shoes. Well, part of that scene didn’t involve Willis. It was a stunt double. I am not talking about the falling down the steps part. I am talking about when they go tearing through the scaffolding. You can visually tell it’s not Willis and right there I was taken out of the scene and the film. I was pissed off. It should have been Willis if it was a combat scene. His name is on the damn poster and it should be his face.
I understand stunt work and the teams in Hollywood are amazing. From Dan Bradley in the film world to Marcus Young on TV, there are great stunt crews and I admire their work. I’d just like the star of movies and television shows to do their own stunt work. There’s nothing more annoying than hearing about an actor going through training and then seeing a stunt double throw punches during the film. Give me a fucking break.
Frank Grillo does all of his own stunts. He doesn’t allow the audience to see another face during the film. It’s all him. That’s the way it should be.When I call the guy authentic and incomparable, it’s the truth. He doesn’t just play a fighter on TV. Frank fights in real life. He trains with Terry Sutherland and champion boxer Chris Van Heerden. 24/7. 365. Film shoot upcoming or not, Frank trains. At home or on the road in a hotel room, Frank trains. He doesn’t allow stunt doubles to stand in his space on a set. There’s an honor in that which demands constant respect from me, a lover of action films.
2016 is shaping up to to be the year of where audiences should be Grillo’d.
This weekend, he tears into screens in Marvel’s latest, Captain America: Civil War. It may be a short part, but he is one of the best flavors of a very good film. Playing Brock Rumlow/Crossbones, Grillo is on the revenge warpath for Steve Rodgers and his crew who left him for dead back in Winter Soldier. A typical Grillo slice of cinema that leaves you wanting more. I call this the appetizer round.
June 1st, Grillo returns to the signature role of Alvey Kulina on the DirecTV/Audience television series, Kingdom. A brutally honest and revealing drama about a family of fighters centered around the world of Mixed Martial Arts. If there was a dream role for Grillo to play, it’s the old lion Alvey, a retired fighter who feeds his hunger for combat by training his sons in his gym, Navy Street. Byron Balasco drapes the series in MMA colors and respects the dog eats dog world of the sport, where the mentally tough survive longer than the physically adept.
It’s one of those shows where you think it’s 100% about fighting and then you watch it and see it’s just about the rigors and unpredictable troubles of family. This is the entree round of Grillo because there’s so much of the actor in this role. A true dream role that only a few actors could bring the proper authenticity(there’s that word again) to. As Balasco said in our interview, “Frank doesn’t fake a single thing.”
July 4th, Grillo returns to the role of Leo Barnes aka Sarge in The Purge: Election Year. While Warrior may have put his face on the map years ago, The Purge: Anarchy(2014) showed audiences and critics that he could carry a summer film. While the first Purge film was entertaining, Anarchy took it to the streets and added a dose of Grillo and it gave fans an idea of what the actor could offer. The plot centering around the idea that once a year, killing was allowed in order to cut down on crime and well, population.
Playing a man hellbent on revenge for the death of his son, Grillo stretched here while flexing the usual action hero muscles. A truly kickass two hour film that was better than many expected. Election Year returns Grillo’s Barnes to the detail of a promising Presidential candidate(Elizabeth Mitchell) who wants to end the Purge and that brings on an extra set of killers on their trail. A perfect time for Grillo to serve his bare knuckle “fuck you” sandwiches.
Grillo isn’t done there. He’s fighting against and alongside a martial arts dynamo in Iko Uwais in Beyond Skyline. Plot? Aliens, warships, and people getting punched, kicked and killed. Somewhere in there, Grillo is a cop looking for his son. You see the thread? Asskicking dads protecting their sons. A maker of men perfectly suited for the part. And it’s him taking the licks and throwing the sticks on screen.
“Purge 3 is very stunt oriented. So I am equally involved with the stunt coordinator. Physically, I love the challenge. Artistically, if they can see me do it, the impact on the film will be far greater.”
He also stars in Akiva Goldsman’s Stephanie, about a couple who meets a young woman with mysterious powers.
What else? More Kingdom and a film called Wolf in the Wild next year. The train isn’t stopping anytime soon for Grillo, a 50 year old with the energy and willpower of a 30 year old. When I interviewed Van Heerden about meeting and sparring with Grillo, the boxer called Grillo “An animal. He does stuff people half his age won’t do.”
Why else do I love Grillo? He’s a gent. A genuine great guy who cuts the shit and dishes in interviews. He gave me an interview when I didn’t write for big sites like KSDK. He gives more of himself to his fans than any actor because he knows they are the ones that fill the seats and watch him work. More than that, he just likes to get paid to fight. In Hollywood, actors fall prisoner to comparisons and labels. Grillo defies that. He isn’t your normal action star. He isn’t your everyday drama guy either. He is incomparable. One of a kind. Someone who kicks ass and takes names along the way.
If you don’t know who Grillo is, watch Entertainment Weekly’s brilliant five minute special, Breaking Big.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) May 4, 2016
It’s easy to like the popular actors and celebs. I prefer guys like Grillo. Hard scrappers who earned everything they have. When you think of someone like Shia Labeouf, an actor who was handed the keys to the kingdom by Steven Spielberg and squandered it, it’s easy to appreciate Grillo. He’s a freight train and one you should hop on.
He cares about what he does and that should make you care about his work.