New Frank Grillo Mob Flick Streams on Netflix Friday

FINAL
Frank Grillo's new mob film — Wheelman — streams on Netflix this Friday.

Frank Grillo is Wheelman.

It's not set in Philadelphia -- nor is it based on The Last Don Standing. Grillo starred in films including Captain America and two Purge franchise entries .

In Wheelman, set in Boston, he plays a getaway driver who is double-crossed during a job after he gets a call on his cell and is told to leave two extremely well-armed robbers behind. Why? "They're going to fcking kill you," is why.







The feature film includes a notable twist in that it unfolds primarily inside a car.

As reported last November, Grillo had signed on to develop a feature film based on the story of onetime Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss Ralph Natale's life. He's not doing that, apparently embracing a completely different story. There could be any number of reasons why. During the book's promotional phase, Natale played it a bit over the top, either intentionally or not. Did Grillo decide he didn’t need even the slightest add-on headache? We can imagine a few scenarios...

The Wheelman story "ratchets up the tension with a fresh take on the action drama, by setting the movie almost entirely inside the getaway car, with Grillo up against antagonists we only ever hear over his speakerphone, and never see, "website The National noted.

"Yet this hardcore drama has heart, with the wheelman trying not only to save his 13-year-old daughter Katie... who winds up in the car with him, but also his ex-wife...

“In boxing, jiujitsu or martial arts in general, a lot of the focus is about stillness, breath control, timing and when to relax,” Grillo said. “I apply a lot of that to how I act. For me, acting is a sport, and a lot of it is about the waiting, and the hunt. That’s there in Wheelman, too, and then there will be a burst of energy. It has to be internal, until it’s not, then you have to dial the emotion back.”

Grillo, who was raised in the Bronx, says he deeply identifies with the wheelman. “I grew up with a lot of guys like this, guys trying to go straight, [people]who couldn’t quite make ends meet, so they did what they had to do,” he says.

“Maybe they had a kid, and they wanted to do the right thing for them. I also know a lot of really bad guys, like the guys who are in the back of the car with the wheelman. I understand dealing with people who don’t value life. So I had a lot to draw from. I was a man before I became an actor. I have a different perspective.”


In a very short interview with Metro (trailer below), Grillo said: "We were in Southie a lot. We intended to show as much of the city as we could, but obviously we were in a car. It’s a Boston movie."

How hard was it to film a movie that's set almost entirely inside a car?
It was a Herculean task. I had to be very prepared while I was in that car. I had to know exactly where I was emotionally, spiritually and intellectually all the time. We really had to rely on what we were doing with our editor because you really can’t tell pacing while you’re in the car doing this. I often say this could’ve been an epic failure, just a guy in a car. You know, I’m not Brad Pitt. It’s not like Brad Pitt in a car. I got to pull this off. I got to be super prepared. I got to hope that everybody else is super prepared and that what is on the page, we can execute it in the editorial stage. Once I saw the first cut, I breathed a sigh of relief because I said, “OK, we have something here."


You've played a lot of tough guys over the years, but this character feels a bit more grounded than your past performances.
I didn’t want to make him a superhero. I didn’t want to make him a badass. We talked about this ad nauseum. I wanted to look smaller. I wore a jacket that was two sizes too small for me so my shoulders were kind of pulled in. [He's] a middle-aged guy, just out of jail. All he wants to do now is connect with his daughter and try to live his life as good as he can. He’s a sub-ordinary guy, he’s not even ordinary, who’s put into an extreme situation and you get to see a little bit of who he was, maybe, as a younger man. I think he realizes that he f--ked his life up a bit. I wanted the audience to empathize with him, but understand that he did this to himself. He put himself in this position.

Did you enjoy shooting "Wheelman" in Boston?
It was great. From the jump, Jeremy’s idea was, “Let’s shoot this in Boston.” He loved the city. He loved the look of the city and we were on board. My wife’s from Boston. I love Boston. [There are] really top notch crews in Boston, just as good as in New York. We had a great time.

Since your old "Captain America" co-star Chris Evans is from Boston, did you ask him for any recommendations on places to check out while you were in town?
I have so many friends that live in Boston, but I’m afraid to go any place Chris Evans goes.



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