From Stage to Screen: Actor Scott Greer to Play Frank Rizzo In Tigre Hill Film

Hill is preparing to film American Zealot, his biopic of Philadelphia civil rights leader Cecil B. Moore.

Scott Greer in a publicity photo for Theatre Exile's production of Rizzo | Tigre Hill in a publicity photo

Scott Greer in a publicity photo for Theatre Exile’s production of Rizzo | Tigre Hill in a publicity photo

It’s been quite a week for Scott Greer, the 2014 Best of Philly Theater Talent. On Monday, a rare night off from his critically-acclaimed run as Frank Rizzo in Theatre Exile’s Rizzo, he accepted the Barrymore Award for Best Actor for his gripping work in The Whale, also a Theatre Exile production. Then came word that the rest of the run of Rizzo, which was already nearly impossible to get into, was completely and utterly sold out. And now, Greer tells us that he just signed on to play former Mayor Rizzo in American Zealot, filmmaker Tigre Hill’s biopic about legendary Philadelphia civil rights leader Cecil B. Moore.

“I was skeptical he could pull it off,” says Hill of Greer in the play, which was written by Bruce Graham. “But he did big time. And that’s what an outstanding actor does. Scott is a helluva talent.”

After attending a preview of Rizzo, Hill asked Greer to read a copy of the American Zealot script.

“It’s terrific,” says Greer. “I was struck by how similar the two men are. His screenplay is like the bizarro world version of the play. They were both contradictory, passionate, charismatic guys who had unwavering faith in the conviction that they were on the right side of history during an incredibly divisive time.”

Moore, who was five years older than Rizzo, was a cigar-chomping Philadelphia lawyer and staunch civil rights activist who fought successfully for the integration of Girard College. He served on City Council while Rizzo was in the mayor’s office.

Rizzo was making his way to the top of the police force at the time of the 1964 race riots in Philadelphia, riots that Moore was instrumental in bringing to an end. Rizzo became police commissioner three years later.

“Sparks were bound to fly,” says Greer. “And they did.”

Hill is best known for his compelling 2006 documentary The Shame of the City, which chronicled the intense 2003 mayoral race between incumbent Democrat John Street and Republican challenger Sam Katz. And Hill’s 2010 Mumia documentary The Barrel of a Gun was controversial to say the least. Hill is currently finishing up his mafia documentary and expects to start shooting American Zealot over the winter.

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