By: Matt Bogarin
Recently Frank Grillo did interviews for the upcoming thriller The Purge: Anarchy and Geeks With Wives was there! In a downtown parking lot in LA we were introduced to the Purge Breakout Experience (Read the review here), and got a chance to sit down with some of the cast and crew to discuss the movie. Below is the interview conducted by a group of journalists including myself with Frank Grillo during the event.
Q: How was your experience with this movie?
A: My experience on this movie was great. When I met with James DeMonaco early on, we had talked about what we had wanted to do with the movie, and that’s the exact thing that happened. Which is rare. We made the movie we that wanted to make. So if you don’t like it, it’s my fault.
Q: Have you seen the first one?
A: I didn’t see it until after I signed onto this. They offered me the movie, I read the script, I loved it. I love Demonaco, Jason Blum, all good people. And then I went to see the movie. And then, I understand. He wanted to make this kind of movie first, this kind of movie, but he had 3 million bucks, and I don’t think he ever expected this to happen. So now he made the movie that he wanted to make.
Q: What was it like shooting in Downtown LA?
A: It was great. I haven’t worked in LA in years. And not only did we get to shoot in Downtown LA, we did it at night. And we only had 28 days, so we had to move fast. Which I think it added to the intensity of the movie. Cause we were intense all the time. But it was great, I’m glad to keep movies, to keep some productions here in LA. You know, we have the best crews in the world, and so it was good. Hopefully if there’s another one, we stay here.
Q: You say that this is the kind of movies that you wanted to make, so is there some type of Evolution from when you first signed on to what this movie turned out to be?
A: Originally my character had said a lot more, and it introduced himself at one point to the other four people. And I was like, you know what. Let’s cut this dialogue. I don’t need to be talking. I have a mission, they’re an obstacle. I’ve got to get around this obstacle, but continue. I’m not introducing; I don’t want to be friends with anybody. You know it’s like the Charles Bronsons, the Steve McQueens, the Lee Marvins, those kind of guys. He said that’s perfect, let’s do that. And so it did, it went through a couple of evolutions. And the great thing about making movies with Blum is that yes, he doesn’t give you any food or a trailer, but he gives you complete creative freedom. And so I’d rather bring a brown bag and be able to make a movie that you want to make, which is rare. And we were able to do that.
A: They make it very clear very early on. You’re not going to make any money up front. So I said, okay I’m working free. ‘You’re not going to have a trailer’, said okay. I just got off Captain America, my trailer was about as big as that truck. So I was like, I’ve made it. I’m never going back. It’s like flying first class, when you think I’m never going back to coach again, until the next flight where you’re in coach. So I knew going into it, so I know also, how successful the first one was. So, my incentive is, if the movie does what it did first, I get paid. You know, so if we make a great movie. All the money goes into the film, which is not a bad way to make a good movie. You know, there is a lot of fat in movie making, and if you get rid of it, I think that’s why he kinda changed the business a little bit.
Q: The audience I saw the movie with was yelling, and screaming, and cheering, and were so into it. So I was curious for you was, did you guys want those kind of reactions?
A: It’s so funny because, when I was a kid, I reacted to the movies. I remember going to see Rocky, screaming and crying. I miss that. So to hear that, cause I haven’t seen the movie with an audience, I saw it by myself. But we were hoping to get the people frightened, and to get the sense of anticipation, that psychological, screwing with your mind psychologically, so your imagination can take over as opposed to us showing everything. So to hear that is great.
Q: There is a lot of running and jumping over obstacles in this movie, were there any accidents?
A: Yeah, I still have it. There’s two things. I got a broken finger, which by the way, that’s bone. That has to be broken again. And there’s a point where I’m in the truck and I jump out, I shattered my knee. So, what I had to do for the remainder of the movie is every night wrap my leg every night, 4 times over with tape and ace bandages, and I have to have surgery on my knee. So, I took one for the team. I’m always getting hurt though. In Captain America I get hurt. And I did a movie called Warrior, it’s about mixed martial arts. This is a family saga, and the backdrop is mixed martial arts. All I do all day is fight, and so everything hurts, all the time.
Q: Do you have a background in Martial Arts?
A: I do. I’m an advanced jui jitsu practitioner for a very long time with the Gracie family. In fact, my sons name is Rio, cause I spent a lot of time in Brazil. I’m a boxer for 25 years, I box everyday still. I was a wrestler in school and college. So I am a very physical person. I used to say myself why don’t I learn another language, or play the cello, or I don’t know, the guitar? Why am I always in the gym? And now I know. And one of my best pals is Liam Neeson, from the Grey. And I said, Liam, I’m starting to get these things like him. And at 58, he did Taken, like he’s done so many things before that. But now Liam is an action hero and he said, I got one piece of advice, keep your knees healthy. I said, too fucking late.
Q: So for your character, what was the biggest challenge?
A: That’s a great question, because the way the script was originally written, there was more emotional things going on with my character throughout the film, and I said you know, let’s cut that all out. Let’s not show too much emotion, so that at the end when you have this thing happen, I am allowed to be emotional and the audience gets a pay off. So the hardest part was, I told him to keep me on the rails of not going either way too emotionally, you know, so that we could execute this. And we did it, so at the end, it’s the bit of a weird ending for a movie like this. You don’t expect so much emotion at the end of a film like this. And I thought it was good, I thought it was an interesting way to end it.
Q: That’s actually one of the things I liked most about the first movie, and this one too. Its kind of like the Twilight Zone, like it’s got this great message at the end. Is that something to you that was appealing, you know, yeah you got this action thing, but….
A: Absolutely. The action is even tertiary to what’s going on. You know, I brought up Liam Neeson; when I did the Grey, and I read the script, and I saw my character, who seems like a bad guy, you know he makes such a beautiful journey, and to me, I signed on to the movie because I wanted to explore this journey, this existential thing that men, and this was the same kind of thing. So yeah, I mean, first, and foremost, if you don’t find something like that in the character, and you just do a movie to do an action movie, then you become the cliché, kind of, not that it’s a bad thing, the kind of Jean-Claude Van Dam thing. Even, and I love him and I think he’s great at what he does, but Statham movies. He’s the guy who you expect that thing to happen, and so, we wanted to kind of flip it, and surprise people and hopefully that’s what happens.
A: Yeah. Which I lived, my apartment, was on Wall Street. I saw those people every single day. And the interesting thing is, there is a political message here, and most of those people which occupy wall street were homeless people. There were a lot of homeless young people, I mean like your age, that were kind of despondent, and given up, and came together to form Occupy Wall Street. Now, the way they executed it, they didn’t execute it properly, but there’s a message there. And these are young people, and the message is, It’s getting too far apart. The haves and the have-nots. I mean, it’s just too far apart. We’ve got to find another way to take care of each other. How do we help ourselves as human beings? Or, eventually, it’s going to implode. It will, it will implode. There will be a civil war, something will happen. And it happens around the world all the time. So, yeah. That was another thing DeMonaco was clear about; wanting people to think after the movie. Be entertained first and foremost, but to think a bit.
Q: You said that you shot the movie in 28 days, everyone seems to have really great chemistry, how did you guys bond off set?
A: Oh I hate them. When you do a movie like this and you have a limited amount of time, and a limited resources, limited space, and all that stuff. There’s a comradery that forms quickly, because you’re in it together, for the right reasons. Nobody is in it to get rich, everybody’s in it for the right reasons, and those are usually the best movies. Those are the best times. And Kiele, once I started working with her, on the movie, I’m doing this TV series, and there was a role and she plays my girlfriend in the TV series, and her name came up during casting when we were looking for people and I said, I’m working with her right now and she’s great. And through that, she met with the Director, and now plays my girlfriend on this TV Show. So great things happen.
Q: Can you talk about that series?
A: Kingdom, we did the TCH yesterday. So it’s a real family saga, in the world of low-level Mixed Martial Arts. I play a guy who’s kinda too old to have been in the UFC and it’s really visceral, the language is.. It’s an R rated show. The language is there, there’s sexual content that’s pretty graphic, I only do 10 episodes, and we saw some of it yesterday. It looks like a film, and it’s down and dirty. It’s very similar to the movie warrior that I did, but even better because it’s more realistic. It’s DirecTV’s first original series. So they’re excited. You know, they’re like the Netflix and Amazon’s of the world in 25 million homes so it’s a good platform.
Q: Is their going to be a sequel if this movie is a success?
A: Right, you know, it’s interesting. If people show up to the theatre, which will always be intangible, if the movie Gods shine down on you. There’s already been talks about what we want to do with the 3rd one. You know, where do we go with the 3rd one.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about that?
A: Well, it’s interesting cause you know the original movie, when we shot it, you didn’t know if I lived or died. It was very ambiguous. Which I loved. It ended really with me holding her hand, you didn’t know what was going on. And the movie tested 3 times, it tested very well. The one problem they had was they were upset beyond belief of the thought that this character was going to die. And, I would’ve left it. But Universal knows a lot more than I do, and they said you gotta make it clear that he lives. That was an added scene.
Q: So if there was a third, it would be a pick up of you guys?
A: You know, we’re throwing some ideas around. There is an interesting concept with the revolution of it all with Michael K Williams, the Carmelo resistance. Maybe with me, the script would have to be really great, and James and I agreed, we’d only do it together. He’ll do it if I do it, I’ll do it if he does it. We really created a great relationship. I think that if it does, and people go to see it next Friday, there’s a good shot you’ll see another one.
Q: Was this film a small budget?
A: Small, it was 12 million dollars, or 11, 999,990 went into the movie, and like $8 bucks went into like, us.
Q: When Blumhouse, also has a good relationship with the actors…
A: Oh they’ve already offered me a couple of movies. But I can only afford to do a few. But I love him, he was supposed to be here today. He’s generous, and you know, he’s smart to work like that. To find actors, who are decent actors, who could do this with him, and take this journey, and it’s a big gamble, it’s a really big risk, and you know, a lot of those films that he’s made have not been successful. So you have to find a balance between wanting really great talent and finding a place where they also feel okay about what they’re doing, and the material has got to be spot on.
Q: What made you want to do this role?
A: Yeah, I mean. You know because the script was so good, cause I thought I could do a lot with the character and create maybe, not an iconic character, but one of those characters that I loved watching in the 70’s. You know, to me, to be the leading guy, I’ve been offered things where I could’ve been the lead, but they weren’t real good. And I don’t want to be the lead of a bad film, so I’d rather be supporting in a great movie, you know? But I felt like I could do something in this, and I loved James DeMonaco. And they were hands off with us, so it was kind of a no brainer.