Frank Grillo, 53, hadn’t always envisioned himself on the big screen. Born to an Italian-American family in New York, Grillo started his career with a business degree and a stint on Wall Street, but fate had other plans. After starring in commercials, his path veered into the world of film and television. But you should know that he’s not your textbook definition of a leading man: “My career is my career,” he maintains. “I'm not Matt Damon or Brad Pitt—I take roles that I connect to because they're the best-written things for me.” Which is precisely what he’s done.
In the Captain America film franchise, he took on the role of the villainous Crossbones, Chris Evans’s ally turned enemy. On the TV show Kingdom, he appeared alongside Nick Jonas as Alvey Kulina, a retired MMA fighter. His latest film, Donnybrook, peppered with references to the U.S. opioid crisis and Fight Club, follows the life of a former U.S. Marine training to win a vicious prize fight. In it, he plays Chainsaw Angus, a sociopathic drug dealer. On-screen Grillo is often gritty, raw, and downright evil, the antithesis of his IRL good-time-guy disposition. The fact that these roles are all super masculine and require feats of physicality are not lost on him, though. There is in fact, a method to his madness. “What I try to do is find the vulnerability instead of making him ‘that guy,’” says Grillo. That way “we have something for the audience to connect with.”