Frank Grillo puts a new spin on Boston crime movies with his latest action flick “Wheelman.”
The former “Captain America” and “Purge” star plays a getaway driver who ends up on the ride of his life with his family after getting double-crossed during a botched bank robbery. While it may be hard to tell since the film primarily takes place inside a vehicle and his character butts heads with the Philadelphia mob, the actor assures Metro that “Wheelman” is definitely a Boston-set movie.
“We were in Southie a lot,” Grillo says. “We intended to show as much of the city as we could, but obviously we were in a car. It’s a Boston movie.”
Ahead of the film’s debut on Netflix this weekend, we caught up with Grillo to chat about filming “Wheelman” in Boston with director Jeremy Rush, his old Marvel co-star Chris Evans and more.
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.
“Wheelman” debuts on Netflix Friday, Oct. 20.