The MacManus brothers are back with guns blazing in the long-awaited sequel to The Boondock Saints. The Saints are living in Ireland with dear old dad (Billy Connolly) when they get word a priest in Boston has been killed in a way that sets them up to be the fall guys. Long-haired and bearded from the Irish winters, they shed their hair (and their clothes) to head back to Beantown to set things straight. They're joined by a new Saint, Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr. with a sweet mullet), along with the trio of cops from the first movie. And although the unforgettable FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) is nowhere to be found, Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz) is on the case, full of piss and vinegar just behind that sweet Southern smile.
Who's behind the murder? Why do they want to lure the boys back to Boston? You'll have to see The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day to find out. Meanwhile, Duffy spilled the beans on the legions of diehard Boondock fans, including his femme fanbase, his critics, and what he thinks women want from men these days. Read on after the jump ...
Cinematical: I was at the all-media screening in New York, and the fan response was insane.
Troy Duffy: [chuckles] I knew Boondock fans were gonna show up; they always do. With something like this, there's a sort of natural, and I believe healthy, distrust of sequels, so the major thing I was seeing on the Internet, the major reaction to the trailer, say, when the trailer hit the Internet, was, "It's probably gonna suck, but I'm gonna go see it." So I knew fans were at least gonna give us a shot here, but I knew that they had a big skepticism about it. The thing about these fan screenings – it was the same story in New York that it was in Philly last night – is that their reactions have been over the moon. I mean, not just relief but elation and excitement, and I could not have hoped for a better reaction, to be honest with you. I mean, as a director, you sit there and you know when everything's coming, so you know what the response should be – you know if a joke's coming, so you want [the audience] to laugh; you know if there's something brutal coming, so you want an intake of breath. You want to see all that stuff, and to a T, every single time, the audience feels it, and it's just been unbelievable.
Cinematical: Even if they were skeptical, they were still – even before seeing the movie – incredibly excited to see you guys and pose for pictures and stuff. It was palpable.
Troy Duffy: Yeah, there was a lot of personal excitement, you know, and that's cool. It's sort of got nothing to do with filmmaking at the end of the day, and... the guys in the Boondock family, we're not used to being treated like rock stars. Myself and Sean and Norm don't do huge movies and get that type of adoration from other things, except Boondock, so it's nice for us to sort of indulge in the Mick Jagger for a day fantasy.
Cinematical: Did people really show up to the after party? I mean, non-industry people? Because I was kind of amazed when you guys announced where it would be.
Troy Duffy: Yup. A bunch of people showed up, and we sat there partying with a bunch of fans until, uh, I came back at like one in the morning, two in the morning.
Cinematical: I'm curious about Special Agent Eunice Bloom and how she came to be.
Troy Duffy: Well, the character just kind of fell out of the sky, a lot like Smecker's character in the first one. There was no, like, game plan to make her fit in or anything like that. So I can't really take credit for being all that sly, 'cause she just kinda popped into my head. At the end of the day, what you get is a strong female role, you know? I think women are sick and tired of being portrayed as victims, a lot of the time anyway, the bulk of their time on film. And she's ten steps ahead of everybody else; she's smarter, faster, and the fact that she's Southern, you know, she's got that disarming type charm that I've often seen from Southerners, and it just kinda fit. She needed to be different in every way that I could think of from Smecker, so it didn't look like we were just simply doing a carbon copy of him.
Cinematical: That's really interesting because the first Boondock Saints didn't have many women in it at all – there's the tattooed woman at the beginning and Rocco's girlfriend and her friend, and that's it. But obviously there's a huge female fanbase. They were just as excited at the screening. They have the Boondock tattoos too.
Troy Duffy: Our fanbase is split fifty fifty.
Cinematical: So is the nude scene at the beginning for us ladies?
Troy Duffy: Oh yeah. I was looking out for my girls on that one. I mean, like, when you're on a set full of dudes, and you're making kind of a dude movie, it's really easy to get locker room talked out of doing nudity, you know? [laughs] But I just knew we had to... It was a really cold night in that barn, and they actually didn't have hot water for those showers they're taking; the showers they're taking are cold. It's an annoying thing for an actor to go through, but I just kept going. I kept focusing on the ladies. I'm like, this one's kinda for the ladies.
Cinematical: So Clifton Collins Jr. – I love seeing him onscreen, but he's so over the top, like the "Ding dong, motherf*cker" and stuff. Do you think he was sort of like Rocco but amped up? Like, turned to 11?
Troy Duffy: To 11. [laughs] We definitely poured on the cheese factor sometimes with the story, and frankly a lot of the characters, we pushed that humor a little bit farther than we did last time. But I look at Cliff – Cliff and Rocco have this similarity. They were both my friends whom I personally wrote those two roles specifically for. But there are a lot of differences in those two guys. There was always going be that comic relief coming from the third Saint, I knew that from the beginning. But there were a lot of differences [between] Rocco and Romeo. Again, we didn't want to do a carbon copy. He's Hispanic, he's plugged into that world with his uncle and stuff out of Boston, he's a merchant sailor. Rocco could barely f*cking pay rent in his sh*tole [apartment]. Also, [Romeo's] an unmistakable badass, whereas Rocco was kind of more of a bumbling type of a guy. So, no, I don't see – I see certain sort of shades of similarity between the two, but not carbon copies of each other, by any means.
Cinematical: Speaking of Rocco, let's talk about that dream sequence he's in with the Saints where they're talking about being men.
Troy Duffy: [laughs] That one went to 11, for sure.
Cinematical: It was like Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. Where did you guys come up with it?
Troy Duffy: Those three scenes – it takes place in a bar, on a hockey rink, and on top of a skyscraper -- we shot those three locations in one day to get those shots. And we literally wrote – myself, Norman, Sean, and Rocco -- wrote that together. And we weren't even focused on, you know, hey, let's make this sort of a manifesto with the focus on man, you know? It just kind of turned out that way. And we all just had this litany of complaints about how soft men have gotten. One of the things I talk to women about is, why do you like this movie? As a female Boondock fan, why do you like this movie? I always try to get it out of them. What I've found is, ultimately, women are – at least female Boondock fans – like it because they like the old style John Wayne type "real man" thing, you know? They miss real men who don't ask for permission, who do what they believe in, who don't share their f*cking feelings, you know? I think that it's sort of coming back around that way. Just sort of the old school Hollywood mould of men, to a certain segment of society, anyway. And that manifesto was sort of our ode to real men.
There's a million factory workers and plumbers and electricians out there that quietly provide for their families, bring home the bacon, work their asses off, and are good men that don't necessarily share their feelings and do all this ultra-sensitive stuff that is now sort of the hallmark of being an accepted guy these days, an accepted man these days. And I think that maybe they deserve a shout-out every now and then, so we gave 'em one.
Cinematical: Fans have actually already commented on our blog, like, "I live in Texas, I can't see it, thanks a lot, Texas!" But I looked it up and people can request screenings using Eventful.com, right?
Troy Duffy: Yeah, this Eventful thing I heard about over the last couple of days. I have no idea what it is, but I guess yes, you can sort of request the screening in your area.
Cinematical: And you said there's a huge director's cut, like three hours or something?
Troy Duffy: Yeah, my first rough cut of the film was three hours and 15 minutes. I cut that down to an hour, 52 [minutes]. There's a lot of kids out there that get screwed by "added footage" and "new unrated version" and they get 25 seconds more peppered in throughout the film and nothing really noticeable and they get kinda ripped off. So on this one, later on down the line, when we say added footage, that's exactly what I mean. I pulled entire scenes out of this that didn't even make the film. I mean, I literally almost have a whole other movie.
Cinematical: I've read a couple of recent interviews with you, and in the EW interview, you say that you've kind of learned the politics and how to play the Hollywood game, but in the New York Times article, Billy Connolly says, you know, maybe you haven't learned so much. I know that you were very discreet at the screening, but Billy went off – that this is because of the fans, and f*ck the critics and everyone else. What's your take on that?
Troy Duffy: Well, I think in the New York Times, I think he was joking there. In New York, when he was sort of ... I think what he was emphasizing was that this is a fan's film. There's gonna be critics who, I'm sure, harpoon this thing, and nobody likes to have their work hated and shunned by anybody, especially somebody with sort of a public voice like a critic, but I think what Billy was saying was that this one's never been about that. It's always been about... the fans found this thing and made it. It was beyond criticism at the time because there was no big f*cking red carpet and advertising campaign. We weren't asking anyone to buy anything. This movie was virtually abandoned, and the kids found it. They made it their own thing, and they didn't really give a sh*t what critics said. And they started protecting the film on the Internet. Every time you see a bad comment about Boondock, the next ten comments are Boondock fans calling that guy a douchebag.
That kind of a fanbase is extremely rare, so I think Billy's always been... I mean, he was the only one, when we got blacklisted from US screens 'cause of Columbine, he was the only one to not give a flying f*ck. I mean, we were all sitting there devastated and Billy's like, "Doesn't matter! Kids'll find it! You watch!" And he was absolutely right. I don't know how the f*ck he knew that.
Cinematical: And also Columbine was sort of a very American thing, and maybe different to him.
Troy Duffy: I was kind of surprised because it got distribution around the world and it actually came out theatrically in a lot of countries that didn't have Columbines going on, and did very well.
Cinematical: I guess what I was getting at is, and I know it's early in the morning....
Troy Duffy: Don't be shy!
Cinematical: Okay, I won't be shy. What I'm really getting at is the documentary Overnight and if you did anything differently in getting this one made, if you have any regrets – well, maybe not regrets, other than letting your friends film the movie.
Troy Duffy: Yeah, that's a major regret. [laughs] You know what, man, it's just ... the other day I was like, in Philly actually, somebody asked me about that, and it was a college, about 300 college kids we were talking to at Drexel, and I was like, "Raise your hand if you've ever been stabbed in the back by a friend," and almost everybody in the room raised their hand, and I said, "That's exactly how I feel [about Overnight]." And it's really sort of easy for these guys to play the innocent little lambs who were "just telling the truth." I was there. I know what happened, and the sh*t that those two filmmakers did is the kind of sh*t that keeps you from getting into heaven. It's just that simple. And I know that I misbehaved – I don't need a film to show me that. I know that I misbehaved back in the day. I know that I said and did some bad sh*t, but judging me for it is a bit of a slippery slope, since none of the context was provided.
I had a guy ask me the other day, he goes, "Well, uh, I know none of the context was provided but you did that sh*t." I'm like, "Did what sh*t?" He's like, "All that stuff in the film. You did it, you said those things." I said, "Really? How do you know I wasn't reading off f*cking cue cards?" And here I got a critic going, "Yeah, the context wasn't provided but..." There's no "but" after that. If you don't know why, who, what, where, when of something, it's just me acting like an a**hole for apparently no reason, then nothing can really be assessed from it. At the end of the day, it's one of those things that the real tragedy there is that that story wasn't told, and it was a pretty f*cking interesting story. How I was able to do what I did, what we all did, actually, working together back then – the guys in the band, myself, me and [producer] CB sort of in the movie industry – what we were all able to accomplish was a very rare thing.
We got a record deal, a movie deal, lost 'em both, resurrected 'em both, and then went and made our film and our record on our terms, as newbies in the business. That's a really interesting story, on how that happened, and there's lots of triumphs and tragedies on how that happened, and maybe kids that want to get in this business could have learned from my mistakes, if they were honestly portrayed in that film. And that's the tragedy of it. This thing was pitched to me like an educational thing for young people that wanted to do what we were in a position to do at the time. And that story was never told. And anybody that [judges] me by watching that documentary, I always ask them a simple question. "How'd I do it? How did I accomplish all that stuff?" And they always have this glassed-over look in their [eyes], and it's always because they don't know. That story doesn't answer those questions.
Cinematical: So are people asking you specifically about all that this time around?
Troy Duffy: No, just reporters.
Cinematical: Well, that's what I meant. People like me.
Troy Duffy: Well, reporters aren't actually people! [we both laugh] Just reporters, and I know that they can't ignore the story; it would almost be kind of irresponsible, but at the same time, fans don't give a sh*t, you know? I had a kid ask me the other day about like the documentary, and I said, "Raise your hands – how many people have seen that?" It was four out of 150 at, I think, Temple University. Drexel was maybe six out of 300 kids. The fanbase is virtually ignoring it, or doesn't care, so it's part of my personal story. The problem with it is just that it doesn't have anything to do with filmmaking. I don't remember the last time I saw a movie and went, "That's good, unless I find out the director's an a**hole." Either a movie's either good, or it's not. If the director's smoking crack, I don't care. It's just, how good is the film, you know?
Cinematical: Let's talk about The Good King and what else you've got cooking. You said it's too early to think about Boondock III, but it's wide open.
Troy Duffy: It's percolating. I got some stuff percolating. I just would love to be able to spread my wings a little bit. I'd actually love to be able to do a movie without the pressure that exists on independent film; when you get this much time and this much money to get something done, you don't have a choice. [We have] to find creative solutions to things and it makes you kinda faster and better –
Troy Duffy: [laughs] Yeah. But I'd love to be able to do one and have the time for the creative side, have a lot more time for the creative side. I hope that that comes with Good King, because I think I'm going to need more time on the creative side. Good King is one of those stories that's, it's like a buddy picture in the 1500s. I've often called it a comedy black as a starless night at the bottom of the ocean. It's that type of thing. I hope we'll be able to do that next.
Cinematical: Do you feel like the success of Boondock Saints II is going to vindicate you?
Troy Duffy: [laughs] Yeah, I think it might vindicate us, actually. Boondock I should have gotten a chance; it didn't. And I wouldn't change that if I could, because... nobody sets out to make a cult film, a cult classic, and actually does it. There's always some story behind the cult classic as to why everybody in Hollywood missed it and didn't understand it. And we've got our own little story. I wouldn't change it if I could, but at the same time, it's no longer a matter of opinion. Boondock Saints would have been a hit if they released it back then. And somebody messed up, let's put it that way, alright? And this time around we're getting an honest chance, you know, with a shot we maybe should have gotten back in the day.
So do I feel vindicated? Yeah, already, because I've seen this now with three theaters full of fans. I know what I got here. And they've already answered my one remaining question: does this movie work? Is it that good? The fans have told me three times now that it is. I think the Boondock fanbase is going to show up. And I hope all those kids out there that don't live in New York, Los Angeles, and the markets that we're in... I hope it reaches them.
Cinematical: Since Halloween is coming up, I have to ask who your favorite movie villain is.
Troy Duffy: My favorite movie villain? Oh, that's easy. Hannibal Lecter.
Cinematical: Why is he your favorite?
Troy Duffy: Oh, I don't know. There was just something about that role and that character and that actor at that time in that film. I mean, it's just one of those moments in time, in Silence of the Lambs. I remember when I first saw Silence, I had all of Hannibal's dialogue memorized by the second time I watched it, which had never happened to me before. I was hanging on every single word this guy said.
Cinematical: What's your favorite Halloween movie?
Troy Duffy: My favorite Halloween movie? Like a horror film?
Cinematical: Yeah, I mean, do you like horror?
Troy Duffy: Yeah, I like some of it. Jaws, that was always the one that got me, man. Scared the living sh*t out of me as a kid. I was afraid to wash my hair in the shower. [laughs]