July 15-- Carving out even a few minutes of time to talk to Frank Grillo about his new feature film, "Into the Ashes," and his Netflix production, "Point Blank," was a challenge. It wasn't that Grillo was hesitant to discuss either of the projects but it all came down to finding the opening in his schedule when he wasn't working.
Grillo had flown back from a shoot in Cyprus the day before, just in time to attend the debut of "Point Blank." The New York City native has nine movies that are either in post-production or still filming and he was recently seen in the monster box office blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame."
One of the reason Grillo is so determined to find the time to talk about "Into the Ashes" and "Point Blank" is that along with appearing in the two projects, he got a producer credit for each one. Grillo and producer-writer-director Joe Carnahan launched the production company WarParty in August 2018 with the intention of developing three to five films yearly.
Being a producer is exciting to Grillo because he gets to see the making of the movie "from soup to nuts."
"Being a producer is like creating a meal from scratch and then getting to sit down with everyone for dinner and watch them enjoy the food," Grillo says. "Acting wise, I put everything I have into each role. I prepare myself the same way whether it's a smaller role or a bigger role.
"There is certain amount of pride knowing you have given birth to a project."
In the case of "Into the Ashes," Grillo plays a menacing character who comes back into the life of an ex-con who has finally got his life in order. The reunion ends up in a major battle between the men. In "Point Blank" (currently available on Netflix), he portrays a career criminal who is the only hope a man has of getting back his kidnapped wife.
Grillo explains that while the two characters are on the wrong side of the law, they are really very different roles for him to play.
"Sloan, in 'Into the Ashes,' is really a bad guy and is driven by revenge. Nothing is going to stop him from getting revenge," Grillo says. "Abe, in "Point Blank," is kind of a gangster but not a bad guy. The roles are a little bit different and a little bit the same.
"It would have been criminal for me to have gone into either role having the characters think they were bad guys. I don't judge a character as being a bad guy but just see him as being on a different side of an ideology."
Grillo developed this acting approach through all of the TV and film work that he's being doing since 1993. Along with a stint on the daytime drama, "Guiding Light," Grillo has appeared on the TV shows "Wasteland," "Battery Park," "For the People," "The Shield," "Prison Break" and the "Kill Point." His film work includes "Minority Report," "Edge of Darkness," "Mother's Day," "The Grey" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
He was introduced to acting while in high school but his dream was to play sports professionally. Instead, he ended up going into acting and the job that best prepared him for the whirlwind kind of acting life he's currently living was his days on the daytime drama.
"Working on 'Guiding Light' helped me to learn to work fast because we would do a script a day," Grillo says. "I took away from working on the show a discipline of how to not only learn the material quickly but how to take something that is not great on the page and make it seem-at the very least-believable. That's what it taught me.
"Look, I'm not George Clooney, Brad Pitt or whoever is getting the best material. I get a lot of smaller roles and so I learned that you have to mine that and find out how to make it work."
His role in "Into the Ashes" would fall under the smaller roles category but Grillo approached it with the intention of getting the most out of the scenes he has. He saw the character as being almost Shakespearean in design through the betrayal that he faces from a person he once cared for as much as a brother. Grillo knows that the audience will see his character as the bad guy but from the point of view of playing the part, he says it's the man who betrayed his character who he saw as the real bad guy of this tale.
And, then there will be a steady stream of other good and bad guys for Grillo to play because of a hectic work schedule.
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