Ida Red Star Frank Grillo Talks Dir John Swab, Josh Hartnett & More

Frank Grillo is a tour de force on film and television, always answering the call from his friends and colleagues for what the role calls him to do. Among them is Ida Red director and writer John Swab, who asked him if he could play Dallas Walker, Ida Red's (Melissa Leo) nephew who co-runs her crime family with her son Wyatt (Josh Hartnett) in her absence. I spoke to the star about working with Swab and who he compares him to, his chemistry with Hartnett, and how he's been able to keep churning projects out in the era of COVID.

Ida Red Star Frank Grillo Talks Dir John Swab, Josh Hartnett & More
Frank Grillo in Ida Red (2021). Image courtesy of Saban Films

"John Swab and I have done two movies together in the last few years, the last being Body Brokers (2021), and I just love this guy's style of writing and directing. It's very Sidney Lumet and Michael Mann. I don't feel like I'm blowing smoke saying that. I just think he's a really talented guy, and this was a great script and a great fun character to play. So it's a no-brainer."

Ida Red Writer, Director John Swab on Crime Film Inspirations, Casting
Frank Grillo and Josh Hartnett in Ida Red (2021). Image courtesy of Saban Films

Grillo credits Swab's creative ambition and vision as far as being attuned to his art. "John is a very kind of subdued, quiet guy, and he's a writer-director, so he knows what he wants," he said. "At the same time, he kind of lets you kind of envelop the character and make what's on the page elevated. It's a great collective process, and I think everyone who works for him works for him because they want to be there. It's not for money or anything."

Ida Red Star Frank Grillo Talks Dir John Swab, Josh Hartnett & More
Frank Grillo in Ida Red (2021). Image courtesy of Saban Films

The story of Ida Red involves the title character played by Leo. She is terminally ill and determined to die a free woman entrusting both Dallas and Wyatt to pull off one last major truck heist to make that happen. "I was with mostly with Josh Hartnett and who I love, who's phenomenal in the film, and I think he is long overdue for a…I don't want to say a comeback because he never went anywhere, but for people to start paying attention," Grillo said. "It was great. We were all very collaborative, and we hung out after work, talked about the script and the work. Working with John Swab and his producing partner Jeremy Rosen, this is my third film with them, and I'll continue to work with them because it's just what you want to happen when you go make a movie."

Josh Hartnett Partners with Frank Grillo in the Trailer for Ida Red
Saban Films – Ida Red

Grillo's done projects domestically and overseas. Despite sets having to adapt to the COVID protocols, it's just another day at the office for him. "I just finished a movie in Italy," he said. "You really wouldn't even know there was COVID. I think most people are vaccinated now or had COVID, and I think it's kind of died down a bit, and whatever adjustments that were made, I think a year ago, it was difficult. I think it's kind of business as usual now, with the exception of some safety measures being taken."

Speaking of treating things like another day at the office, Grillo shares a similar attitude when it comes to the tentpole roles he sometimes finds himself in, like Brock Rumlow, who's died in the films, but also returned physically in a cameo for the MCU. Most recently, he reprised the role on the animated Marvel's What If. "You know, if they call, I pick up the phone, and they ask me what I need to do, and I go do it. It's not something on the forefront of my mind or my career. When you're part of the family, you come." Saban Films' Ida Red, which also stars Sofia Hublitz, William Forsythe, and Deborah Ann Woll, is currently in theaters, on-demand and digital.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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