Interview | Frank Grillo Talks Captain America, Crossbones and The Raid Remake
Frank Grillo has made a career out of strong supporting roles, but that’s set to change. Earlier this year he earned praise for his performance in The Purge: Anarchy, and the actor also left an impression as Brock Rumlow in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Comic book fans will know exactly what’s in store for the character, and the closing minutes of Winter Soldier all but confirm that we can look forward to seeing Grillo develop Rumlow further.
Ahead of the home entertainment release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we got a chance to quiz Grillo on how he’d like Rumlow to evolve in future instalments, other Marvel characters he’d like a chance to play, and his role in the upcoming remake of The Raid. Have a read below.
Amon Warmann: There’s a lot of characters in the Marvel universe that have already made the jump to live action, but you get to be the first live-action incarnation of Crossbones. For you, is that an advantage or does that make it more of a challenge?
Frank Grillo: You know, it makes it more of a challenge. You have a responsibility to the character and to the fans who are probably the best fans in the world so you want to be authentic and do it justice. You’re going to be that person, you’re representing what people have been reading about for decades.
AW: We know that you’re going to be reprising the role in future Marvel instalments. Is there any role which you’ve played previously that you’d like to return to and build on?
FG: In The Purge: Anarchy I play a great character and there’s potential for that to continue.
AW: Marvel movies are so big now and any opportunity to be in one is great. Brock Rumlow seems like a really good fit for you though. Was there ever any other comic book character you were ever considering or was it always Crossbones?
FG: Truth be told, any of these roles are incredible. I think the Russo Brothers, in casting, were very wise. The character is physically and emotionally very similar to characters I’m drawn to. They’re in my wheel house. Quiet but powerful. For me it’s been fantastic to go down this road with them.
AW: There’s a couple people who’d like to see you play The Punisher…
FG: It’s funny – this started when Cap came out. I heard a few mentions, it was very grassroots. I actually tweeted something about it the other day and so many people responded! It’s kind of how people see me. I almost look like The Punisher! It started out as fun but now I hear it and I raise an eyebrow.
AW: With their being all this backstory and history to the character already, is there any room to add any personal touches yourself, or is that not even needed when the writing is so authentic?
FG: Every actor needs to infuse their own interpretation of the character and add their own flavour. I think that’s what makes Brock more interesting. On the page there wasn’t a lot but you internalise what’s going on with this guy and the audience responds to it.
AW: Which one is more important – the script or the comic book?
FG: Always the script – the script is kind of the Bible! You have to observe the script over the comic. Marvel interpret it in their own way.
AW: You’ve already gone up against Cap and Falcon. Is there another superhero in the Marvel universe you’d like to go up against?
FG: I would like to go up against every Marvel superhero!
AW: Your character is not necessarily the focus on a Captain America film. Is that more of a challenge for you to pack as much character development as you can with the screen time that you’ve got?
FG: Being a supporting character in a film like this, where your story isn’t the main story and you don’t necessarily have a journey, it’s something I built on. I start good and I end up not as good. You have to work 3 times as hard to make this guy real and necessary.
AW: This is your first Marvel film. Knowing what you know about the character, what are some of the traits and attributes of Crossbones that you’d like to explore in future films?
FG: I would like to see a character that doesn’t see himself as bad or good but sees himself on one side of an ideology. You get empathy from the audience for being truthful. I’d also like to see him come into full Crossbones strength and power! He was devastating in the comics!
AW: Crossbones is quite a cool villain even though we know and we see that he is evil. At what point does evil become likeable, and for you, do you start to like evil characters when you’re playing them?
FG: I think with every actor, if you judge your character you’re in trouble. I don’t think it’s necessarily a like thing, but you have to understand them. It’s hard to be honest if you judge your character. It’s the circumstance that’s important. I don’t see it as evil. Is Cap doing the right thing?
AW: I know you have a black belt in jujitsu, and you’ve obviously done many stunts throughout your film career. Which one was the easiest and which one was the hardest?
FG: Hardest was probably Cap. Myself and Evans, we really went at it. Because we had so much time, we had to do our fights over and over and over again and after a while we were really battered and bruised. We went at it for real! The Grey as well – the conditions for The Grey were outlandish. It was 30 degrees, at night and in a remote area. It felt like if you let your guard down you’d die!
AW: Speaking of fights and stunts, you’ve got The Raid remake coming up. Was that a no brainer when the opportunity came up?
FG: For me it was. I loved the first film and I read the script and it was really fantastic. Gareth Evans is really fantastic, it was a total no-brainer. Being responsible for a film so beloved by the fan boys – I love that balance.
You can read my Captain America: The Winter Soldier review here.