In Season 2 of DirecTV’s intense drama series Kingdom, Alvey’s (Frank Grillo) improved fortune has led to a bigger gym, but also bigger risk and responsibility. With Ryan “The Destroyer” Wheeler (Matt Lauria) defending his title, Jay (Jonathan Tucker) working to be taken seriously again and Nate (Nick Jonas) determined to get back into the cage, Lisa (Kiele Sanchez) is focused on managing Alicia (Natalie Martinez), an impulsive but skilled female fighter.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Frank Grillo talked about Alvey’s journey in Season 2, exploring Alvey’s past, the addition of Mark Consuelos, what having a female fighter brings to the show, Alvey’s relationships with the women in his life, and how Alvey might react, if he found out about Nate’s sexuality. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: As someone who’s been in this business for awhile now, it must have been nice and really assuring to have this show picked up for two 10-episode seasons, at the beginning of Season 1.
FRANK GRILLO: Yeah, it’s fantastic! It was a surprise. The show aired once and they picked it up for 20 episodes. I was like, “What?! That’s not the way my life goes!” My wife (Wendy Moniz), who’s an actress as well, was really close to having a job with David Fincher on HBO, and they pulled it the night after they cast her. The reason was that $15 million an episode wasn’t enough money, evidently. So, I’m happy.
After all of the shit that he went through last season, what can you say about where Alvey is at, this season?
GRILLO: Yeah, right?! There was a lot of shit! You know what’s funny, though, I know this world really well and I know the people who we’re portraying, and it’s not dissimilar. They have these crazy, violent lives. It’s six or seven months later, after Ryan has won. Alvey has got some money and the gym is a new gym. He’s spending some of that money and he’s got everything he thought would make him happy – success and the gym – but it’s not done that, which is normal. The relationship with Lisa has come undone. She’s pregnant and that’s in his face, all day long. And his relationship with his sons is still tumultuous, although not as bad as in the first season. They’re both fighting, so there’s a common ground that they can stand on, which is the cage. In the first season, Jay was barely fighting and not really doing anything, and Nate was struggling because he got hurt. But in this season, they’re fighting. All three of the boys are fighting, so there’s a lot going on, and that keeps them together for a minute. And Alvey’s past comes back to haunt him and torture him. From what I can see, it’s a dangerous situation for this guy. He’s falling into old habits and patterns. It’s fun to play.
How does Mark Consuelos’ character fit in?
GRILLO: He’s part of Alvey’s past. He was a fighter who’s now investing in some real estate stuff, with retirement homes and charter schools. He gets Alvey involved in his world, and it does not end well for either one of them. It’s really great stuff. It’s real fun to play with Mark, who was a fan of the show. His wife (Kelly Ripa) is a real fan of the show and she talks about it all the time on her show (Live with Kelly and Michael).
How has it been to have a female fighter on this season?
GRILLO: Great. Natalie Martinez, who I know because I did a movie with her called End of Watch, is a real fighter. She’s trained at my boxing gym for years. She’s a good actress, too, and she’s in demand. I used to say, “Man, we should get Natalie Martinez,” but she’s always busy. And then, this came up and unbeknownst to me, Byron [Balasco] said, “Do you know Natalie Martinez?” And I went, “Yeah, why?” And he said, “We’re thinking about her for a Ronda Rousey thing.” And I said, “She’s a bad-ass. She’s a kickboxer.” And she came on and crushed it. She has a fight that is probably the best fight on the show. It is so good. And the timing is perfect. Ronda Rousey has become the face of the UFC in a short amount of time. It’s awesome. The level of bad-assery is amazing, and she’s like that in real life. Having come from that world, or having been involved in it, this is how these people live. It’s not a glamorous thing. It’s not like being a professional basketball player where you’re in a big house. Maybe three, four or five guys make a couple million bucks a year, but that’s it. The rest of them have second jobs.
Obviously, Alvey doesn’t deal with women too well. Where is he at with both Lisa and his ex-wife?
GRILLO: I think he’s totally done with one of them, and I think he may have been done with the other one, had she not gotten pregnant. Somebody asked me if, in this season, Alvey is a manwhore, and I said, “You know, oddly, that’s one thing that Alvey is not.” He’s not that guy. I think he’s so wrapped up in the thing with Lisa, having a baby, his responsibility, being a father again, and doing it at his age. He wasn’t a good father, the first two times around. He’s not sexually driven. He’s not out there looking to further his fucked up life. So, for the time being, he’s trying to manage what he has.
How does what’s going on with Lisa affect his relationship with Ryan?
GRILLO: It’s even worse because Ryan does something to fuck up his trajectory as a champion, and Alvey has to pay for that. That puts more than a little bit of tension between these two guys, but for a different reason. You’ll see, as time has passed, whatever spark there might have been between Lisa and Ryan has extinguished.
Does Alvey know about Nate’s sexuality?
GRILLO: Not at all. He knows nothing. The audience knows everything, and he knows nothing. He would never even begin to imagine it.
Do you think about how he would react, if he found out?
GRILLO: Every day. The thing about Byron Balasco is that it’s a slow burn. It’s not like he’s just going to come out one day. This is going to go on, which I love. It just builds and builds for [Nick] Jonas to create this empathy from the audience. They’re going, “Just go tell somebody!” We all have those friends. I have friends who knew they were gay when they were eight and they told their parents then, and then I have friends who didn’t tell their parents until they were 45 years old. Imagine that struggle. And it’s great because Jonas is taking this on wholeheartedly, and Byron is being realistic with how it unfolds. It’s not easy and it’s not going to be pretty. It’s not like, “I’m coming out,” and everybody is like, “We support you.” It’s going to be ugly. It’s great because this will be an interesting thing that will get people talking. The beginning of everything is to get people chit-chatting. Whenever we can explore stuff that we, as a society, still struggle with, it’s great. We’ve moved forward in leaps and bounds, but behind closed doors, there’s still a certain taboo that needs to just go away. We need to let people live their lives. Things like this are really important, and everyone feels a great responsibility with it.
Kingdom airs on Wednesday nights on the Audience Network on DirecTV.