Tough, charming and well versed in the finer points of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Frank Grillo made a career out of playing agents, detectives, police officers and more. Though the New York native graduated from New York University with a business degree and briefly called Wall Street home, he quickly re-discovered his interest in acting. He supplemented a steady stream of TV commercials (his first paid gig came courtesy of Genuine Miller Draft) with lucrative side work as a fitness model for several men's health magazines, and made his movie debut in 1993 as a detective in the pulpy "Deadly Rivals." From 1996 to 1999 he appeared on the CBS soap "Guiding Light" (1952-2009), where he met second wife Wendy Moniz, and worked steadily in supporting parts until landing a memorable role as a lawyer on FOX's popular "Prison Break" (2005-09). The high-profile show launched the mixed martial arts enthusiast into several career-making projects, including the short-lived supernatural drama "The Gates" (ABC, 2010), Liam Neeson's surprise hit "The Grey" (2012), and Jake Gyllenhaal's gritty cop thriller "End of Watch" (2012). His police credentials may have been fake, but Grillo's talent certainly wasn't.
The oldest of three children, Grillo initially harbored dreams of becoming a professional athlete and was a serious student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His experiences in the drama department at his high school in upstate New York brought out a more creative side. However, Grillo decided to study business at NYU instead. His tenure on Wall Street ended when a chance meeting with a casting director brought him into the lucrative world of TV commercials. Before long, Grillo was appearing in nationwide spots for American Express and other major brands, while putting his athleticism to use as a fitness model. After marrying in 1991, he branched out into films with a small part as a hardened detective in "Deadly Rivals," which proved to be the first of many authoritative roles that capitalized on his Italian background and rugged charm. From 1996 to 1999 he portrayed the shifty Hart Jessup on "Guiding Light," and married Moniz a year after leaving the legendary soap.
The early 2000s saw Grillo deliver solid supporting performances in everything from the sci-fi thriller "Minority Report" (2002) to the breakout FX hit "The Shield" (2002-08), but it was his portrayal of conniving lawyer Nick Savrinn on "Prison Break" that proved to be his career's turning point. By now an in-demand actor on TV procedurals and crime dramas, Grillo eventually landed the lead role of a recently transplanted doctor in "The Gates," whose quick cancellation allowed Grillo to put his MMA background to good use in the testosterone-fueled "Warrior" (2011). That same year he challenged Neeson's leadership in the man vs. nature thriller "The Grey," and later portrayed Gyllenhaal's boozy sergeant in the critically acclaimed "End of Watch."
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Made feature film debut in action thriller 'Deadly Rivals"
Joined cast of daytime series "Guiding Light" (CBS) in regular role of Hart Jessup
Cast as a futuristic cop in "Minority Report," directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise
Appeared in romantic comedy "The Sweetest Thing," starring Cameron Diaz
Landed recurring guest role on "The Shield" (FX)
Cast as lawyer Nick Savrinn on Fox's "Prison Break"
Co-starred on ABC's short-lived mystery drama "The Gates"
Played a squadron officer in Kathryn Bigelow directed "Zero Dark Thirty," based on the hunt for Osama bin Laden
Cast alongside Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling in crime drama "Gangster Squad"