Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo to Star in Blumhouse Drama 'Once Upon a Time in Staten Island' (Exclusive)

Moving away from the 'Purge' action-horror franchise he created, James DeMonaco wrote and will direct the coming-of-age feature.
From left to right: Jamie McCarthy, Desiree Navarro, Robin Marchant, all Getty Images
From left: Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo, Bobby Cannavale

Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo and Bobby Cannavale will star in Once Upon a Time in Staten Island, a period coming-of-age family drama from Blumhouse Productions and Man in a Tree Productions. 

James DeMonaco wrote the script and is directing the project, which denotes a marked tonal and genre shift for the filmmaker. DeMonaco has spent the better part of this decade writing and directing the Purge franchise, a horror-action movie series produced by Blumhouse that has grossed more than $320 million at the global box office. Grillo starred in two of the movies.

Once Upon a Time in Staten Island is set in the summer of 1982 and has as its backdrop the release of Rocky III. The story tells of an average teen who embarks on a quest in his Rocky Balboa-obsessed town that swirls in his family members. Watts and Grillo will play his parents.

Also starring are Lucius Hoyos (Heroes Reborn), Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women, Howards End), River Alexander (The Way Way Back) and Chase Vacnin (The Little Rascals Save the Day).

Production is set to begin later this month.

Jason Blum and Man in a Tree’s Sebastien K. Lemercier are producing. Watts and Kate Driver will executive produce.

Watts appeared in the recent Twin Peaks revival and co-starred in the Brie Larson drama The Glass Castle. She is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson.

Grillo, who played the villain Crossbones in several Marvel movies, recently shot Boss Level, an action-thriller from Joe Carnahan. He is repped by WME and Management 360.

Cannavale last year shot The Irishman, Martin Scorsese's crime drama with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, and is currently shooting Ed Norton's Motherless Brooklyn. He is repped by WME, Framework Entertainment and Schreck Rose.