Frank Grillo’s three sons are happy to see their father back in Marvel Cinematic Universe – even in animated form – and so is Grillo.
The actor, 56, repeats his role as antagonistic spy operative Brock Rumlow (aka supervillain Crossbones) in the latest episode of Marvel’s “What if…?” (streaming Wednesday at Disney +), re-filming key characters, stories and scenarios at MCU.
The latest chapter is a whodunit set before the first “Avengers” movie in 2012: Someone Kills the Superheroes Supposed to Form the World-Saving Supergroup, and Nick Fury (again voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) and Black Widow (Lake Bell in the Scarlett Johansson role) have to find the culprit.
USA TODAY has an exclusive clip from the new episode featuring SHIELD agent Rumlow, who transports Black Widow after she is picked up as a suspect – even though his colleagues have a hard time keeping her locked up.
A Marvel mystery is another chance for “What if …?” to “experiment with the shape,” says executive producer Brad Winderbaum. The first episode with Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter was about one person making a choice that changes her entire life, while the second (with the late Chadwick Boseman as Star-Lord T’Challa) showed how changing a person can change a universe forever. “We were really approaching the episodes that we wanted to make the movies: play with tone, play with genre, play with types of stories we wanted to tell and just really explore.”
Grillo appeared in three Marvel movies, starting with 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” in which Rumlow battled Cap (Chris Evans) as a sleeping Hydra agent and made a building fall on him in the action-packed climax. The distorted Rumlow was reinvented as the villainous Crossbones version of the character Grillo’s boys, especially 13-year-old Rio, prefer — to 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” Grillo’s favorite Marvel moment was also in that movie, as the Crossbones fight Cap in the opening sequence before his untimely death.
“And then they blew me up,” Grillo says with a laugh. “They gave Anthony Mackie the shield!” he says when his fellow citizen in the “Civil War” got the call to become the new Captain America.
Grillo, who also appeared in the 2019 “Avengers: Endgame”, keeps busy as one of the hardest working guys in action movies: “I will keep doing this until I’m 95,” he says. He co-stars with Gerard Butler in the upcoming thriller “Copshop” (in theaters September 17); with Bruce Willis in the heist film “A Day to Die” (due in February); and opposite Josh Hartnett and Melissa Leo in the upcoming crime story “Ida Red.”
Grillo also has a role in writer / director James DeMonaco’s coming-of-age drama “This Is the Night” and hopes to work with DeMonaco again next year on a sixth installment of “The Purge” franchise, which reproduces its role as Leo Barnes.
But he will always take the time to play Rumlow again – all they have to do is ask.
“Marvel is like the IRS,” Grillo says. “When they call, you pick up.”
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