During our recent interview (listen above), “Kingdom” star Frank Grillo reveals that nothing bothers him more than to hear his show dismissed as being just about mixed martial arts. “When somebody says that, I know they haven’t seen the show,” he declares, “because by design, from the very beginning, we set out to make a show that was about people, about their lives.”
Grillo stars in this hit Audience Network series as Alvey Kulina, a fight trainer and gym owner who struggles to run his business while keeping his family together. The show just returned to much acclaim for the second half of season two.
The actor, last seen on the big screen in “Captain America: Civil War,” has been involved in the sport from an early age. “I grew up wrestling,” he recalls. “I still box every day.” This skill won him a role in the film “Warrior” (2011), in which he also played an MMA trainer. “If I were to write my own TV show, it would be this,” he admits, “because this is my passion, this is my hobby, this is what kind of consumes me when I’m not working.”
For Grillo, the fighting in “Kingdom” is about more than just winning or losing. “The thing about the ring, or a cage, or a mat, is you can’t hide. There’s no lying, there’s no facade. You can’t manufacture anything. You can’t hesitate. It’s truth, and as cliched as it sounds, the truth will set you free.”
Yet at its core, “Kingdom” is about family. Alvey tries to manage the careers of his sons Nate (Nick Jonas) and Jay (Jonathan Tucker) as well as surrogate son Ryan (Matt Lauria), while tending to both his pregnant girlfriend Lisa (Kiele Sanchez) and estranged wife Christina (Joanna Going). “It’s what happens to a lot of people,” explains Grillo. “Not everybody lives in Los Angeles in a big house or in New York in a big apartment. There’s a lot of other places in the country where people are struggling to make ends meet, where $100 means a lot. So I think that’s what people relate to.”
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