Bruce Willis finally showed up for work Wednesday on "Reprisal"… Actress Olivia Culpo wants to hang with the wife of Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron… Director Brian A. Miller thanks us for letting him blow up the city… And producer Randall Emmett wants to shoot eight more movies in Ohio.
Those were among the topics discussed at a "Reprisal" media conference Wednesday by Miller, Emmett, star Frank Grillo ("Captain America"), 2012 Miss USA/Miss Universe Culpo, and Bravo's "Southern Charm" reality TV stars Shepard "Shep" Rose (a Cincinnati native) and Craig Conover.
"Reprisal," an action thriller, dramatizes the deadly decisions faced by two men. Grillo plays Jacob, a bank employee with a wife (Culpo) and diabetic daughter, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a violent heist he couldn't stop.
Jonathan Schaech (Gabriel) plays a criminal behind a string of robberies. After Jacob's family is kidnapped, "he follows Gabriel down a path of destruction," according to the Emmett/Furla Oasis Films production company.
Essentially, the hunter becomes the hunted, Miller said.
Culpo, who has limited movie experience, impressed Miller with her research on diabetes for her role as as Christina, a registered nurse with a young diabetic daughter. Emmett/Furla Oasis Films has a track record of giving chances to actress relatively new to the business. The producers hired WWE wrestler Natalie Eva Marie for "Inconceivable" here last year.
"I love the idea of playing such a powerful woman. She's really an equal counterpart to her husband," Culpo said.
Willis shot his first scenes here Wednesday, day three of filming. It was the first time Culpo had worked with the star. "He knows exactly what he wants to do, and he does it so quickly," she said.
Miller has lots of experience with Willis, directing him in "Vice"(2015) and "The Prince" (2014). "Reprisal" is Miller's fifth film with Emmett.
While in Cincinnati for the first time, Culpo hopes to see her old friend Katherine Webb-McCarron, wife of the Bengals back-up quarterback. They know each other from beauty pageant competition. Webb-McCarron was the 2012 Miss Alabama and a participant in the 2012 Miss USA competition won by Culpo (2012 Miss Rhode Island USA).
Grillo, who plays the movie's central character, left the press conference before Culpo arrived. He didn't say much, except how he likes to work out at The Punch House boxing gym, 3911 Reading Road, Avondale.
Willis didn't attend the press conference, but wasn't expected to do so. Emmett, who is filming his fourth major motion picture in Cincinnati in three years, says he wants to bring more stars to Ohio.
"We're applying for eight more (tax credits for) movies, but we might only get two or three," Emmett said.
"We've been here a lot. We love Cincinnati. The city has been great to us, and we appreciate the tax incentives," says Emmett, who filmed "Marauders" with Willis here in 2015, and two movies in 2016, "Inconceivable" with Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon, Nicky Whalen and Natalie Eva Marie, and "The Life and Death of John Gotti" with John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach and Spencer Lofranco.
Cincinnati offers "great logistics" with downtown hotels often being very near the sets, and the city being small enough to shoot at three locations in a day, which helps the bottom line. Restaurant and hotel operators have been "very generous," Emmett said.
"We're excited because everybody here is excited to have us," Miller said. "If we shot in New York City or Los Angeles, people would get angry at you. Here, it's like coming home."
Echoing other Hollywood directors who have worked here, Miller said he liked the city's rich and varied architecture. He started filming here this week by shooting the finale at Yeatman's Cove, the Banks, Smale Park and the Roebling Suspension Bridge.
"As a director, I love the architecture. The Roebling Bridge is in our finale scene. You have incredible architecture, and I really appreciate you letting us blow it all up," he said. With the finale in the can, the actors will spend the next two weeks shooting the rest of the movie "all over the city," he said.
Emmett, who filmed "Acts of Violence" with Willis in Cleveland in March, was coy about his next Ohio film. He said it will be shot in September "in a small town" with the help of Film Cincinnati director Kristen Schlotman.
A surprise addition to the press conference Wednesday were Rose and Conover from Bravo's "Southern Charm" reality series about seven socialites in Charleston, S.C. Then Rose surprised reporters by revealing he was born in Cincinnati, while his father was in law school.
"I was actually born here. It's the first time I've been back since I was 2-1/2 years old," he says. Rose described his character as "a regular guy who gets caught up in a bank robbery."