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Why General Ryle From Cosmic Sin Looks So Familiar

Though it didn't exactly thrill critics upon its initial release this past March, writer-director Edward Drake's "Cosmic Sin" is developing a surprisingly devoted following on Netflix as of late. The film, set in the year 2524 and revolving, as so many sci-fi thrillers do, around an imminent alien threat to the human race, stars Bruce Willis as (retired, aka "I'm getting too old for this s***") military general James Ford. To save humanity, Ford joins forces with General Eron Ryle, played by an actor who's been consistently entertaining audiences since the late 1990s: Frank Grillo.

Whether you count yourself amongst the haters (much like the folks at Polygon) or the die-hard fans (pun possibly intended) of Drake's formulaic sci-fi flop, it's difficult to deny a sense of familiarity with General Ryle's rugged handsomeness and raspy baritone, and for good reason. Believe it or not, Grillo has been a staple of both film and television for nearly three decades.

Grillo started out as a soap star

In 1996, after obtaining smaller parts in shows such as "Silk Stalkings" and "Poltergeist: The Legacy," Grillo landed the role of daytime heartthrob Hart Jessup on the long-running CBS soap opera, "Guiding Light." There, he would meet his future wife of 19 years (and ex-wife of fewer than one), "Yellowstone" actress Wendy Moniz. (Who, incidentally, played his ex-wife Dinah on "GL.") After Grillo's character was killed off in 1999, he went on to land a number of other roles in television series, including an arc as Cliff Dobbs in ABC's short-lived "Wasteland" (created by a pre-"Dawson's Creek" Kevin Williamson) and the role of Anthony Stigliano in the equally short-lived "Battery Park." 

Finally, in 2002, Grillo moved from the soap scene to movies with a small but memorable part in a film that, much like "Cosmic Sin," was panned by critics, but quickly developed a cult following: writer Nancy Pimental's "The Sweetest Thing." The arguably ahead-of-its-time film, which Entertainment Weekly writer Natalie Abrams called "a forerunner to movies like 'Bridesmaids,' 'Girls Trip,' and 'Bad Moms,'" may have garnered Grillo a new generation of fans, but it would be at least another decade before the "Guiding Light" alum would snag a recurring role in the franchise that officially made him a "household face." In the meantime, he had a few more television series to go ...

Frank Grillo became a primetime TV staple

From 2002 to roughly 2010, Frank Grillo became a staple of television movies such as "Hollis & Rae," "The Madness of Jane," and "Blue Blood," but his bread and butter came from the grittier side of nighttime procedural TV. He consistently served as a go-to veteran "badass" actor, often playing detectives, officers, or actual military veterans. He appeared on series such as ABC's "For the People," and "Blind Justice," Fox's "Prison Break," FX's "The Shield," and Spike TV's "The Kill Point." 

Grillo's most dramatic leap from television to film came in 2012, with a role as Squadron Commanding Officer in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty." Although he returned to television (quite notably) in 2014 as the star of Byron Balasco's "Kingdom," it's arguably his somewhat smaller but no less visible role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will make "Cosmic Sin" viewers say, "that's it, that's where I know him from!"

From superhero to sci-fi

Before recently starring in Patrick Hughes' (again, critic and fan-polarizing, per Rotten Tomatoes) "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard," Frank Grillo thrilled audiences everywhere with his turn as Marvel's infamous wolf in sheep's clothing, Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones. His undercover Hydra character's dynamic arc began in 2014, with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and took a turn toward terror in 2016's "Captain America: Civil War," where he was killed off in typically dramatic fashion by Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch. In 2019, he was back (in time) as Brock Rumlow in "Avengers: Endgame," and amidst all this Marvel monster movie-making, he somehow found time to star in both "The Purge: Anarchy" in 2014 and "The Purge: Election Year" in 2016.

While the verdict remains out (or, at least in flux) on possible flop-turned-classic "Cosmic Sin," it's clear that Frank Grillo — that uncannily familiar, stubble-faced badass of both primetime and the big screen — will no doubt find a way to defy critics' expectations (and satiate audiences' thirst) regardless of where his recent foray into sci-fi lands in the annals of action movie history.