Little Dixie: Frank Grillo and Annabeth Gish talk about their new action thriller, old school movie stars, and character tropes

We get an exclusive interview with action star Frank Grillo and Annabeth Gish as they talk about their throwback film, Little Dixie.

Last Updated on February 15, 2023

little dixie annabeth gish frank grillo

Little Dixie is now available to purchase and rent on-demand from Paramount Pictures. The new crime thriller comes from John Swab and aims to be a throwback to gritty 70s films where the lines between good and evil is blurred. Recently, the stars of Little Dixie, Frank Grillo and Annabeth Gish sat down with us and speak on the inspirations for this movie and how differently tropes are handled in this film.

This is such an unrelenting movie, like gritty 70s films. What influences did you take to prepare yourself for this?

FG: Whenever I do movie like this, specifically with John Swab, you know, [Sam] Peckinpah and Charlie Bronson movies are not only big influences with us, but with John Swab too. Which I love cause he’s only in his early 30s. He’s got a great repertoire of old films that he loves and old directors that he loves that he borrows from. It sounds cliché but I dig the Bronsons, and Steve McQueens, and the Clint Eastwoods, you know, the Gene Hackmans, Spencer Tracys.

Doc, your character, is really hard-edged. What was it like to play someone darker than a traditional action role?

FG: Yeah, it’s not a traditional action movie. It was great because — Doc — John and I felt, said very little. The less said by Doc, and the less that was sentimental about what he did, you know, there was no remorsefulness. He just did what he had to do to get the job done. He was borderline sociopathic in the sense that there wasn’t a great deal of emotion. That was all by design.

Annabeth, what attracted you to this role?

AG: Well, I worked with the producer, Jeremy Rosen, before and I really like what John Swab [the director] is doing. I like his sensibility. I think he has a real talent for telling old school, brutal stories. But unapologetically. It’s almost like a little noir-y kind of a thing. I just very much like his ethos. I was very happy to join in and play a character who is an anti-hero and a dirty campaign advisor.

When you play procedural roles like this, do you try to find a way to inject more character than the script gives you?

AG: Yes, indeed! And I think the fact that the character, Billie, is gay has different tonal things that make her interesting and not too trope-y. I was happy this role in particular was kind of an amalgam of my West Wing character and Sons of Anarchy. You know, very confident. She’s very politically savvy. She’s not afraid to stand up to the men in her world. She’s not afraid to play dirty.

It’s interesting how the characters’ sexuality in this movie are all played incidental. Was the director, John Swab aiming to make it more situational?

AG: Yeah, absolutely! I think the way things like that are incidental is part of the beauty of John Swab and what he does. There’s no apology. He’s unabashedly relying on these old tropes and, yet, modernizing them. It’s just so matter-of-fact in the way he works and I very much appreciate that. Nothing is underscored.

About the Author

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.