Frank Grillo in car

Frank Grillo in 'A Day to Die'

Opening in select theaters and On Demand beginning March 4th is the new action movie ‘A Day to Die,’ which stars Bruce Willis (‘Die Hard,’ ‘Pulp Fiction’), Frank Grillo (‘The Purge: Anarchy,’ ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’), and Kevin Dillon (‘The Doors,’ ‘Entourage’).

Directed by Wes Miller (‘Hell on the Border’), the movie centers on disgraced parole officer Connor (Dillon), who is indebted to a local gang leader (Leon Robinson) and forced to pull off a series of dangerous drug heists with his former partner, Mason (Grillo). They have twelve hours to steal the $2 million dollars he owes, rescue his kidnapped pregnant wife (Brooke Butler), and settle a score with the city's corrupt police chief (Willis), who is working with the gang leader and double-crossed him years ago.

Actor Frank Grillo has been working professionally on television and in the movies for over thirty years! The extremely talented actor has appeared in such groundbreaking TV programs as ‘The Shield,’ and ‘Prison Break,’ and in a series of popular movies including ‘Minority Report,’ ‘Edge of Darkness,’ ‘Warrior,’ 'The Grey,' ‘End of Watch,’ ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ ‘Gangster Squad,’ and the recent ‘Copshop.’

But to most audiences, he is probably best known for two roles, playing Sergeant Leo Barnes in ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ and ‘The Purge: Election Year,’ and portraying Brock “Crossbones” Rumlow in the MCU movies ‘Captain America: The Winter Solider,’ ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame.’

Grillo is the real deal when it comes to action, as he holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and is a former boxer. He is also no stranger to co-staring in a film with Bruce Willis, as ‘A Day to Die’ marks the fourth movie they have made together after ‘Lay the Favorite,’ ‘Cosmic Sin,’ and ‘Reprisal.’

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking exclusively with Frank Grillo about his work on ‘A Day to Die.’ The actor spoke candidly about the new movie, reuniting with Bruce Willis, their characters, working with Kevin Dillon for the first time, how seriously he takes action-sequences, the importance of safety on the set, the trajectory of his own career, and the possibility of returning to the MCU.

Grillo and Dillon with guns

(L to R) Frank Grillo, Kevin Dillon and Leon Robinson in 'A Day to Die'

Here is what Frank Grillo had to say about ‘A Day to Die.’

Moviefone: To begin with, how did you get involved with this project?

Frank Grillo: Well, my buddy Wes Miller, called me up and said, “I'm sending you the script.” It was in my wheelhouse, and I really love Wes, and always want to support him and do whatever I can to help him make movies. Then he brought in Bruce, who's a dear friend. And who knows how many more movies Bruce has in him? So, I thought, let me go and have some fun with him.

MF: This is the forth movie that you have made with Bruce Willis. What has your experience been like working with him over the course of these four films?

FG: There's a few guys in Hollywood that are in the stratosphere as far as movie stars are concerned, and Bruce Willis is one of those guys. But, I think at 64 he's going to be phasing out of this stuff. But it's Bruce Willis, you know what I mean? I got to work with guys like Bruce, Liam Neeson, Sylvester Stallone, John Malkovich, and they're in another league.. It's just fun to work with them, hang out with them, and listen to the stories. I'm glad he's a pal. He's a dear friend. Like I said, I think he's phasing out of doing these movies at this point.

A lot of these guys are not at the height of their career, obviously, but they are such a big draw. There's a nostalgic draw to these guys because they remind us of a time when movies were big, and you showed up for the movie star. I think we really show up for the event now with movies, especially that Marvel's taken over the world. It's fun to be around them. I just like absorbing their energy, and I'm at the age too where I'm old school, so I can relate to them and they can relate to me. As opposed to the younger generation, which it's a whole different ball of wax.

MF: Can you talk about your character Mason’s relationship to Alston, the character that Bruce Willis plays. It seems like Mason both admires and resents him at the same time, is that correct?

FG: Yeah. I think as I recall, that's exactly where it was. I mean, they were two guys who were peers more than anything. There was a mutual respect, as there is with anyone, even with adversaries, especially sometimes. I always use the film ‘Heat’ as a template with a lot of these movies. You look at the relationships, and De Niro and Pacino were on opposite ends of the spectrum, but when they sat down, you understood that they respected each other.

Bruce Willis with a tie

Bruce Willis in 'A Day to DIe.'

MF: Can you talk about your approach to playing Mason?

FG: He is a guy who, look, nobody ever wants to be the bad guy. You don't start out in life trying to end up being the bad guy. So, you approach it with, it's a set of circumstances that now dictate this guy's behavior, and why he has to do what he has to do. I know a lot of this harkens back to guys who are in the military who have come out, and just have not been treated very well, and have to do what they have to do to get by.

I have a lot of friends that served overseas, special forces, that were really important at one point in their life in what they were doing. Then, they come back here and they have to do jobs, and they're not respected here the way they were. Or they're not really using their intelligence and their abilities, what they trained their whole life to do. So, they find different ways to make a living, and make up for what they think they're not getting.

MF: That was an interesting aspect to the film. Is that a theme that spoke to you, because as you said, you have friends who have been through that?

FG: Yeah. It's that whole thing of what this country does with our veterans. We tend to push them to the side. Many times it's degrading and it's embarrassing for these guys to come back here, and just not be treated the way they should be treated and taken care of.

MF: Can you talk about why Mason is so willing to help Connor in this situation? Is it because they have a deep bond from their time serving in the military together?

FG: Yeah. That's what it is. It's one for all, and all for one. When a brother is down and needs help, you don't worry about your own self-preservation, that's not what these guys do. They'd all be dead if that was the case. If one is down, you go in, and you need to take care of whatever you need to take care of to save that person. That's what this was about, it's like, we're here to die for you.

MF: Tell us about working with Kevin Dillon. Had you ever met or worked with him before making this movie?

FG: I haven't. I've always been a fan of Kevin from ‘Entourage,’ and some other things. When they first mentioned his name, I was like, “Wow, I don't see that. I don't see Kevin as that guy.” I almost said, “Is this going to work?” Then Wes said, “Why don't just go hang out with him, and talk to him for a while.” I went and sat down with him, and I thought, it's cool to go against type here, and not have the basic, video game, tough guy, paramilitary dude, because Kevin's not that guy. It worked really well, I think. I believed him.

Kevin Dillon blue shirt

Kevin Dillon in 'A Day to Die.'

MF: It’s interesting you say that, because if they had cast you as Connor, it would have been a totally different movie.

FG: They wanted to, they asked me to do it. I only worked on the movie for a couple days because I was doing another film, and I really wanted to be able to help Wes out. So, I wanted to go in there and do as good as I could in the short amount of time that I had. But they asked me to play that role, and for me, that's like falling off a log. It's so easy to do that, and you expect that from me. It's better that Kevin did it, because it's a different way to cast the movie.

MF: You have a background in boxing and martial arts, and I know you have a lot of experience with weapons training as well. With a project like this, where you have so many action sequences, how involved do you get with the stunt coordinators? Do you help choreograph your own action scenes?

FG: Well, I just finished a film, and I'm about to go do a film, which is like a ‘Bourne Identity,’ and yeah, I'm very involved. So, in anything that I do that I'm on screen, I choreograph with the stunt coordinator, and who's ever on the fight team. So, it's my dance, and I'm very specific about how I want to look in the film. I never want to look cinematic, I like to be very authentic with all that stuff, with the action and with the fighting specifically, because it's a whole language unto itself.

I watch movies where there's these crazy fights, but I don't believe any of the fights. It's just like when I watch bad acting, and I don't believe the acting. So, to come back around for the answer, I'm very involved in all of it, including the weapons that I hold.

MF: I would imagine safety is a priority to you as well on the set, is that right?

FG: Oh my God. Yes! Before any of this happened, the unfortunate events with Alec Baldwin. I mean, if you knew the people that I’ve worked with, you could ask them. I am a maniac about it. I mean, safety to me is paramount. Not only for myself and watching out that I don't get hurt, because my livelihood is on the line, but for other people. I won't allow it.

I'll take the brunt of the producer's anger. I say to them all time, blame me, let them come to my trailer. I'll have the conversation. Usually they acquiesce, because as we've seen, a lot of these movies are low budget, and there's less time than you actually need to do it, that's when people get hurt. The other side of that is, I've done four Marvel movies where you have all the time in the world, and all the prep. I act as if every movie is a Marvel movie, because they do it right.

Kevin Dillon with gun

Kevin Dillon in 'A Day to DIe.'

MF: Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is introducing the idea of the multiverse and different variants of different characters, as seen in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ and the upcoming ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,’ what are the chances of you returning to the MCU is a different version of Brock “Crossbones” Rumlow?

FG: Oh, listen, I would go. I have three sons, one of them is 14, who is a fanatic about Marvel, and in comic book movies in general. But I always say this, I would jump at the chance to go and play with those guys and do anything. For me, anything I can do that my kid digs, is something I want to do. Listen, it's helped my career immensely, globally, and I'm so appreciative of it. Anytime they call, I'll pick up the phone and go.

MF: As an actor, you must have learned so much just from being a part of the “Marvel Machine.” Are you impressed with what Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios have been able to accomplish with this series over the years?

FG: I mean, I started out in ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier,’ when Marvel was just getting going. Kevin Feige was just another guy who was a comic book geek and was running the studio. They hired these goofy guys called the RussoBrothers, and lo and behold, that was Marvel. So, when I went and did that little piece on Avengers: Endgame, I was there for a couple weeks. I was like, wow, look at this. Kevin Feige has emerged as one of, if not the smartest brain in Hollywood, I think. His track record is unparalleled. He's the Tom Brady of the movie business.

MF: Finally, what projects do you have coming up that your fans can look forward to?

FG: I did ‘Lamborghini - The Legend.’ I've got a terrific movie coming out called ‘Little Dixie,’ which I did with John Schwab, who I did two other movies with. I have a film coming out with Juliet Binoche and Morgan Freeman, ‘Paradise Highway.’

I've got a few movies coming out, and I probably have six movies that I'm going to go do. People laugh at me all the time, and I know sometimes even online, they make fun of me. It's like, I like to work! I'm not curating my career. I'm not Brad Pitt. I'm not getting the best of the best of the best, where I can pick one, make $20 million and wait till next year.

It's like, I make a good living, but I've got to work. I've got to hustle. So that's why my name is in the trades every third week. People think my God, don't you ever stop? I'm like, I do stop. But I also do love to work. I mean, I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to do this, that people are going to be hiring me. So, I love to work. I really enjoy it. It's the most satisfying thing that I do aside from raising my children. I'll do it as much as I want.

I'm always curious how other people are judging me and asking me why I work so much. I'm like, what a silly question. A, I need to make a living. B, I love it, and I don't consider it work. So, actors wait their whole life to get into a position where there's a number of jobs in front of them. Again, I don't know when it's going to stop, but it's going to stop. Then I can go, I remember when I used to work all the time, that was fun.

A Day to Die

"Only the savage survive."
R1 hr 41 minMar 4th, 2022