Richard Grieco has been lighting up the screen for over three decades. A passionate artist, his creativity isn’t limited to film and television. In fact, this seasoned veteran of the entertainment industry is an accomplished painter and musician. In 2018, he will be showcasing his talents as a director with his highly-anticipated horror flick, ‘Clinton Road.’ The ambitious and spine-tinglelingly terrifying film boasts an all-star cast, which includes Ice-T, Eric Roberts, Vincent Pastore, Fredro Starr, Young Ace, James DeBello, Vincent Young, Erin O’Brien and Bo Dietl. The story is based on the real-life Clinton Road — a notorious, 10-mile stretch of narrow road deep within the northern New Jersey woods, which has served as the source of urban legends about paranormal activities such as ghosts and gatherings of witches. In addition to the otherworldly beings, the road is also an infamous disposal area for corpses in mob hits. In the movie, the road is investigated by a gang of bold teenagers who discover themselves stranded and scrambling against a sadistic satanic cult. Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Richard Grieco for a quick Q&A on his career, his passion for creation and the making of ‘Clinton Road.’
You became a household name with your work in film and television. To start, I wanted to jump back to the beginning. How did you get involved with the arts early on in life?
I got involved with the arts, painting, acting, music, writing, etcetera because I needed an emotional and creative outlet. You would think playing football, hockey and lacrosse would of been enough but it was not!
Who were some of the people who had a big impact on you early on? Was there anyone who gave you a push when you needed it?
My Mother and Father but I never needed a push. I had enough drive myself!
The early years of any actor’s career are dedicated to finding their creative voice. When do you feel you really came into your own when it comes to acting?
When I was in New York doing theater, because I had a fear of public speaking yet on stage I felt right at home.
You took a break from acting full-time to pursue another one of your passions with painting. What drew you to the medium and what did it unlock in you creatively?
I did take a break for a while to paint because it needed my full attention. You can’t dabble or, at least, I can’t. When I paint it’s from a pure emotion, so I had to be totally committed.
I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say, “Ya know, it’s difficult to make a living as an artist.” With that in mind, did you ever have any reservations about shifting your focus to a challenging new medium?
I’ve never been afraid because if you give into fear you fail.
Are there any parallels between what you do as an accomplished actor and painter?
I think they are linear in the sense of the emotion and being totally committed.
You have returned to the movie business with an exciting new project, ‘Clinton Road.’ What brought you back to the film industry with such an ambitious endeavor?
I really never left. It’s finding the right project and when ‘Clinton Road’ came along to produce and direct it along with Steve Stanulis and to do a movie nobody has ever done before. It’s about the scariest road in the USA seemed like a no-brainer. It was a very ambitious shoot, but we had a great cast and a great crew.
Clinton Road is a notorious, 10-mile stretch of narrow road deep within the northern New Jersey woods. What can you tell us about your research into the area? Was there anything that totally freaked you out?
Everything freaked me out about that road and when you are on it. It was creepiest 3 weeks of my life. Shooting on Clinton Road was a challenge because you can’t get a permit but we shot on the real road and the woods surrounding it and exposing all the crazy horrific events that have happened. Everything was challenging, which lends itself to the vibe of the film. The place is just that SCARY AS HELL!
You assembled a very eclectic cast for the film. What can you tell us about the casting process and finding the right people to play these characters?
The film kind of casted itself, it was cast all out of New York. Most of the actors brought a vulnerability and a trust in what we were doing. The cast was great!
As a writer/director you are exposed to all of the different parts of the filmmaking process. Is there a particular part of the process you find yourself falling more in love with as you move forward in your career?
I love the directing because you basically start with a blank canvas and the lens is the paint brush.
What have you taken away from your experiences working with this talented group of people?
A lot of good memories and how much we pushed the cast and crew and they were all onboard.
You are a true artist and someone who is clearly not afraid to push themselves to their creative limits. How do you view your evolution as an artist?
I grow and fail every day and through that process I become a better person in the end.
As a man who has practically done it all in Hollywood, what do you consider the keys to longevity when it comes to building a career in entertainment?
Staying true to yourself and who you are and never change your dreams and goals.
We can definitely look to you as an inspiration. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist so far?
Never be afraid, but be afraid of never. Never give up know matter how tough things get.
A quick glance at your IMBD shows you have plenty of projects on your plate. What should we be on the lookout for and where do you see yourself headed in the future when it comes to work in front of and behind the camera?
I have a lot of things coming up as an actor and director, just can’t tell you right now but, there are a lot of good projects!
Check out the art of Richard Grieco at his official website, www.griecoart.com. Follow his continuing adventures and connect with him through social media via Facebook and Twitter. Learn more about his ‘Clinton Road’ flick here!