Playing perhaps one of the more well known (or at least cult-famous) supporting characters in recent memory, David Della Rocco’s “Rocco” provides the comic relief of the cult classic. I had the opportunity to speak to him about the upcoming installment to the Boondock series.
Merrill: Hi David how are you?
David: Not bad
Merrill: 10 years is a long time to be away from a character and outside of the brothers themselves. Rocco is the most memorable character of the first film so was it hard to get back into that role or is Rocco just a variation of yourself?
David: Well ya know it wasn’t hard to get back into it, no it just wasn’t. I was just more about confidence not really fear of going against the mafia and I was just a little more confident this time. When I found out that the people I worked for really wanted me dead and I shot someone and really got into it, and now the character is a bit more calm and confident this time around.
Merrill: Rocco is dead right?
David: Yeah, he’s dead. Now my part isn’t as long, I am dead but they do it in a good way. They don’t just have be popping up just logically it’s going to have to be a dream sequence or flashback; it’s just along that level. It’s not just like all of a sudden – wait a minute isn’t he dead?
Merrill: I was worried because I was running through my head the way they could bring Rocco back…
David: Basically the dream sequence thing, it’s along that line. Like, I’m there in that way.
Merrill: If I remember reading my information correctly you were friends with Troy [Duffy] before the film went into production so is that how you got the role?
David: Well I knew Troy, of course I had to audition for it, but I knew Troy because we worked at the same bar. First of all, he liked my name, my last name is Della Rocco and he liked the name. So he was writing this script and he’d be talking to me and he says “I have your name in the film,” “I’m using your name as the buddy” so I knew him from that way, from the bar. There’s something on the Internet saying we were childhood friends and we weren’t childhood friends. I met him in Los Angeles when I worked at this bar, and he worked at this bar. So he wrote the script and we started working on it and he liked my stuff so in that way I got the role. I was good friends with him while he was writing this script but at first I didn’t think anything was gonna come of it so I was like “yea use my name” so then stuff started going on and Troy was doing this and that and then he sold it and he auditioned me and it went that way.
Merrill: When I spoke with Norman Reedus a few weeks ago he told me how since it is 10 years later he is approaching the role completely different. Because everyone is more mature and has done a lot of growing since the first one so was it like that for you as well?
David: Yes in a way, but you have to remember, like you said, Rocco is dead. So Rocco is coming back as something that is talking to the brother and yes he has matured. It’s exactly along that line, but like I say there’s a self-confidence. In the scene that we have together and the things that I’m doing in the film, it is a different character that way.
Merrill: Is Rocco still guising the brothers? Because in the first one he was the one who would find them targets.
David: Yeah, yeah, yeah with the buddy and all that sort of stuff, no it’s not guiding them, it’s not really that I’m going around guising them, it’s like this one segment of the film. It reaches a certain time in the film where the brothers are wondering what going on and are they doing the right thing and then that is where I come in and the scene is like that. It’s not like I’m in it for a half hour.
Merrill: So you’re in it for a scene.
David: Yeah like a 3, 4 minute scene. It’s just that, it isn’t like the first one.
Merrill: I remember watching the trailer for the new film and I see you pop up and I’m like “that’s interesting.” Cause I always knew there was a return but I was expecting a halo…
David: Yes, it isn’t really that; just imagine it’s like a dream sequence or something like that. But that’s it.
Merrill: Now, have you done any other work between the first one and this one?
David: Yeah, I’ve done some things. I have Jake’s Corner coming out. It’s a film I did in phoenix, I play a truck dirver. It’s more of a PG film. It’s with this young kid, Danny Trejo is in it, it’s directed by Jeff Santo and it was about a year and a half ago, but that will be coming out pretty soon. I think it has a limited release.
Merrill: One more question, does Rocco have all his fingers back?
David: Ooo, good one.
David: Did we miss that? [laughs]
David: Ya know I don’t want to play like the dummy here but I didn’t even think about that. I don’t even think we even thought about it. So ya know it’s funny, when we were doing the first film, it ended up and they had to change it quick, when I got hit in the bar scene, I got hit in the right eye and so they wanted to give me a black eye and on one of the ones they gave me a – we caught it – but they gave me the black eye on the left eye instead of the right eye and little things like that. But I didn’t even think, we didn’t even talk about the finger.
Merrill: Well thank you very much for your time.
David: No problem, bye.
Now with Rocco dead the search for the third saint was on and Duffy found him in Clifton Collins Jr., who plays the new character Romeo. I had a chance to speak with him about the role.
Merrill: Could you talk about your character Romeo and his involvement in the story?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah, I play Romeo and I’m one of the new saints. I’m a guy who’s been following the saints and I stumble across them while I’m wresting this big French dude. I want to be a saint and then everything happens from there. I try to win them over and show them that I’m worthy.
Merrill: How did you get the part?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah, I’ve known Troy [Duffy] right off the heels of the first movie. He had his band and all that stuff was happening plus I lived right by him. I ended up hanging out with and we hit it off back in ’96 or ’97. He actually wrote the role for me and I ended up coming in and having to screen test for it. Troy and I went through this really long process of screen testing which was a lot longer than usual. It was hours on in of polishing and polishing.
Merrill: That must be pretty humbling though to have a part written for you.
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah, its dope… You always wanna work with your friends and it’s sweet that they thought of me. It makes me feel good, but of course it made me feel scared having to do a screen test. We did it anyways because we wanted to work together and do this. We killed it and Troy killed it! He’s got a great imagination with all these wonderful and crazy ideas that you’ve never seen or heard before. Even just hanging out with him and his brother, who I think the brothers are based on, are great to be around. They’re hilarious and the shit that comes out of their mouth is stuff you’ve never heard before (laughs).
Merrill: Would you say your character is a sidekick?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah, he’s a total sidekick except he’s a dope-ass sidekick.
Merrill: I’ve heard you say in interviews before how you do a lot of preparation for each role, could you talk about how you prepared for this role?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Um, it was really just going through the script and we didn’t really have a lot of prep time. Rehearsals are even different with Troy since he has a very specific way of how he wants to hear and see things. It was mostly just seeing what works and doesn’t work plus throwing out your ideas. I really just started to put on a bunch of weight by hitting the gym a lot. Nothing too major, it wasn’t like anything compared to Capote (laughs). I would have loved to have had some dope ass gun rehearsals since I’m a slut for that type of stuff. Troy even moves fast and he has a great DP so you don’t have the luxuries like you get on most films. It was great though seeing Troy get his feet wet again.
Merrill: Did you do a lot of your own stunts?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah I did pretty much all of them except one. I only know this since I got a picture of my stunt guy doing that one stunt, but I cant remember specifically. You’ll see that it’s pretty obvious me doing most of the stunts.
Merrill: Were you a big fan of the first Boondock Saints?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Oh, yeah! Who wasn’t? You read that script and it was so Tarantino-esque. I don’t mean to sound cliche by saying that, but just the dialouge and the way it was written. He even writes his scripts with words written how they would be said with an Irish accent. It’s great to read scripts like that.
Merrill: Why do you think the first film picked up such a huge cult following?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah, its insane and it was a big missed opportunity in the cinema. It sold so much on DVD. It’s great for the fans and also Troy for having this shot. The movie really holds up and he’s lifted the bar here. It’s even wittier, I was telling someone last night how the script was written. The script’s got more one liners than three Clint Eastwood movies combined. It’s got so many and there’s so many memorable lines.
Merrill: How was being at Comic Con?
Clifton Collins Jr.: It was awesome! I went the year before with Jason Statham for his birthday so it wasn’t for Star Trek or anything else. This time I was in Iowa shooting The Experiment and they gave me like three days off so I can support the film. So I flew out and I was completely exhausted until I got there where it was so dope to hang out with Troy and see the fans. The fans just freaked out over it and it made the people at Sony even more excited. They were of course already excited, but when you get that kind of fan fare it’s a great indicator that people are going to see the movie. It was packed! We had to turn away a lot of people and they were going to miss the Q and A. Troy though went out of his way to make sure they all got their posters signed and stuff. We signed for those fans who missed out and thats just the kind of guy Troy is. He loves the fans and wants to keep them posted even to a fault. Despite what some people think, he’s incredibly sensitive and has got a big heart (laughs).
Merrill: A lot of the other cast members have said working on this film was like being with family. Would you agree with?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah, absolutely! His old high school friends that he hasn’t seen in years, his cousins, and his family were always on set! Sometimes I’d have to say,”we gotta work Troy” (laughs).
Merrill: Was this a very physical role? You were in Crank 2, but you really haven’t done that many action movies.
Clifton Collins Jr.: Um, like shootouts and fights? It was pretty physical man. Even the opening shot has me fighting this huge french dude and I got clocked pretty good in my jaw from that. I couldn’t chew walnuts for like a week and every time my jaw would make a cracking noise. I would always say to Troy that maybe we should rehearse this and all I hear his him yelling action! I went to the French guy eyeing him and we trying to figure out how to move and I ended up getting smacked. I remember just seeing a black light and trying not to go down. I was pretty wobbly, but I stayed up.
Merrill: What was the most challenging scene to shoot?
Clifton Collins Jr.: (Pause) It was really just learning about how Troy works. A lot of directors work in a similar fashion, but Troy is a different cat. He’s like homegrown and didn’t go to film school. He’s different and all the actors like Norman and Billy knew his style while I didn’t. When you have someone as unique and original as Troy it’s cool. You just gotta realize what he’s thinking and what he’s trying to do. I think that for me was the biggest challenge. During action scenes he would just say,”you’re going bam, bam, bam”! Where I’d just be filling in the blanks and figuring out my exact plan. Once I got used to Troy’s excitement and enthusiasm it was great. When you do those shootouts its like being a dancer. That’s all apart of the fun and the challenges.
Merrill: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Clifton Collins Jr.: You know its funny that on so many different films you usually get a chance to do a bunch of different takes. You usually get a lot of time to live in that environment and be that character, but on this one you move so fast you don’t really have a moment to live in that space. If Troy got what he wanted out of the performances and everything was in focus we’d move on. You might get only two or three takes so I didn’t really get the chance to relish in the character during certain scenes. Whether it was me jumping through a window or a big shootout scene, but it was mostly just the scenes with most of the cast. Those scenes were the best to shoot since I love all those actors and they’re great friends. Plus, Julie is not to bad to look at might I add. She’s ridiculously hot in this thing.
Merrill: Was that a new challenge for you as in actor not being able to fully relish in the role during a few moments?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Um, yeah it is. It’s kind of like riding a bike when you’re a kid and then you have to try a unicycle right when you were just settling in. It was like that, you started to have fun with it then you have to move on. It was a challenge, but we all pulled it off without a doubt. I’ve seen the finished product and its great for Troy. He’s learned so much in the last ten years.
Merrill: What do you think make The Boondock Saints and the new one different from most action movies?
Clifton Collins Jr.: I think that Troy is not afraid of taking chances like any brave artist. When you take chances you do great things and conformity is one of the biggest artistic killers. You have to listen to the powers at be or people who aren’t creative telling you what to do and Troy isn’t afraid of that. He’s also got a great producer named Chris Brinker who is more than supportive. He was a big part of the re-writes and he helps assists Troy’s creative vision. Troy can be a bit abrasive at times, but thats a huge part of his chime. He treats everyone equally on set and thats apart of his charm. He’s hilarious and a lot of people are afraid to take chances. Its like the Crank guys who are always breaking the rules.
Merrill: I’m a big fan of Neveldine and Taylor.
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah they’re good friends of mine and I hang out with Taylor quite a bit. There’s a certain set of rules that you’re suppose to follow and when you break those rules you’re seeing something different. When people say they’ve never seen something before thats because the filmmakers broke the rules. They gave me a lot of freedom in Crank 2. They gave me the idea and let me run with it. From the accent, the clothes, or even how I wore my watch like Elvis in that movie they let me do it. I had such a blast working with those cats.
Merrill: Can you name a few of your favorite action movies?
Clifton Collins Jr.: A few of my favorite action movies… God man, my library of films is so huge I have no idea what to say to questions like that (laughs).
Merrill: You can just say Crank.
Clifton Collins Jr.: Crank (laughs)!
Merrill: Do you get any nice oneliners in the film?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Do I! In fact, I may have some of the best ones in the movie. From what I’ve heard from Troy I do have the best ones. I know that there’s one for sure that takes the cake in the movie.
Merrill: You brought up earlier that there may be a third film, would you be interested in being apart of that?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Are you kidding? Hell yeah! Who wouldn’t?
Merrill: That’s pretty unusual for a sidekick in an action movie to live.
Clifton Collins Jr.: Well, look what they did with the Lethal Weapon movies. They ruined them (laughs). They just got campy and Troy is not that at all. Even Troy at times had ideas where I would say ‘that’s not a good idea’ and I’d have to make fun of him for it. A lot of the jokes in the movie comes from us just all hanging out and deciding to put in the movie.
Check out previous interviews here and come back for more leading up to The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, which hits theaters October 30th.