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Frank Grillo discusses his action star status and new film 'The Purge Anarchy'

Frank Grillo, star of new film The Purge Anarchy
Photo by Rachel Murray

Last summer, the hit movie “The Purge” depicted a family’s home invasion during a fictional, government-sanctioned night of murder and chaos, and challenged moviegoers’ views on aggression and violence in American culture. Producer Jason Blum discussed the film with this writer in an exclusive interview when he visited Philadelphia last year and this year Frank Grillo, star of the sequel “The Purge Anarchy,” discussed the new film while in town to promote its opening on Friday, July 18.

The Purge Anarchy” follows protagonist Sergeant (Grillo) who’s prepared to avenge the death of a family member during the annual purge event; however his plans are interrupted when he decides to help a few strangers in need. The sequel is grander than its predecessor, both in style and budget, and has drawn several comparisons to the 70’s cult classic “The Warriors,” one that Grillo himself made during his interview. “When I was a kid I must’ve seen “The Warriors” like fifty times. I love that idea of the gangs, and it being so stylized. And the idea of a group or person having to get from one point to another and in some existential way finding out what they are made of. That’s what (happens) in “The Grey,” a movie I made with Liam Neeson, and what I love about my character. There’s a journey that is made and if the audience goes with you it's really satisfying for everyone.”

Prior to his ascent to action star, Grillo's breakout role was that of heartthrob Hart Jessup on the now cancelled CBS daytime soap opera “The Guiding Light.” However, many fans have now come to know him for roles like Brock Rumlow (aka CrossBones) in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." When asked if he foresaw becoming an action lead, Grillo stated, “I knew (daytime television) was temporary, and that I’d do my contract and get out. People stay there forever, and it’s a nice living. But I never thought about the future, or being a leading man. I just wanted to play great roles and do this (act). I knew if I could just do this I’d be happy.”

Grillo credits his friend and “The Grey” co-star Liam Neesom for starting a trend of “guys who are decent actors doing action” films as opposed to the typical action star led vehicles. He also acknowledged fellow actors John Hawkes (“Lincoln”) and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) as great actors, in their 50’s respectively, who gained well-deserved and recent notoriety. Continuing to share on his ascent to lead star status, the 51-year-old stated, “All of sudden at my age, people are saying, 'We’re thinking about you for the lead of this or that.' But a good friend of mine once told me, there are no rules in this business except the ones you put on yourself or those you accept from others." And as far as the fans and their acceptance, Grillo adds, "People are believing what I’m doing, and I’m happy to be here.”

“The Purge Anarchy” is written and directed by James DeMonaco, and also stars Carmen Ejogo (“Sparkle”) and Zach Gilford (“Devil’s Due”). Additional information about the film can be located at the official website at

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