These two need no introduction. They are the ones people think of when they hear The Boondock Saints. The duo of Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery, better known as the MacManus brothers Connor and Murphy. I got to speak to both of them about the sequel, other projects they have going on and their opinion of Troy Duffy and Overnight.
First up, Norman Reedus:
The Film Stage: Norman, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Norman Reedus: Yeah of course how are you?
TFS: I’m good, let me just start right off. It’s been 10 years since the last movie so what changed in that gap?
NR: You mean as far as the brothers?
TFS: Well, you as an actor, the brothers, your relationship with Troy [Duffy]. Speaking of which did you keep in contact with him?
NR: Yeah of course we did. I mean Sean’s in L.A. and I’m in N.Y. so we didn’t see each other that much but every once in a while, but the first Boondock was one of my first films ever, so I’ve probably done 35 films since that movie came out. So I was super-uber-nervous for the first one and I know Troy fought for me to have that part and it was just a lot of fun during the first one. The second one we all went in a little more professional, I mean Sean had done some stuff before the first one but I hadn’t, and Troy went in with a certain attitude in the first one and he learned a lot of lessons I think. Yah know he got a bad rap from a lot of different angles.
NR: Ya know he approached it very professional and there was a chance we could get the second one to theaters and were gonna get a legitimate shot at actually showing the film. But the first one we didn’t get that shot and it became such a big deal and I think he put a lot of time and effort into making the second one what he really wanted it to be, ya know we al did.
TFS: Yeah I saw the Overnight documentary and felt it was very one-sided for sure.
NR: Well, even with footage of Santa Clause you can edit it to make him look like a dick ya know.
TFS: Yeah absolutely, I actually disagree with a lot of what I saw in that, I could tell there was a lot of trick editing involved. Like a lot of the conversations where he is yelling at you are missing a lot of the other end of that conversation.
NR: Right, basically you could have taken the same footage and made him look really good.
TFS: Was it hard to get the persona of Murphy back? Like, it’s been so long were you looking back at the first film?
NR: Yeah, ya know I watched it a few times, the first one and ya know playing it in the beginning was a little weird but then I just sort of jumped back in yah know. I mean once you play a part in a movie as an actor it doesn’t really leave your brain. The location and the people and the time might be different but you remember that dude you played.
TFS: Was there a lot of feeding of you and Sean during production? Were you trying to help each other out so you could get that connection back?
NR: Yeah totally, Sean and I are friends already and we already clicked before we did the movie so ya know you help each other, you watch each other, because you act like brothers ya know what I mean.
TFS: Right, well going along those lines was there any films or just anything that influenced you and became something you wanted to bring into the character during the first one?
NR: No, I just wanted to do certain things with conviction and still have a light heated attitude in between. With the first one you kind of walk with each other you move with each other but still the brothers do these things but they’re still normal dudes ya know. I think that’s why so many people like the film and relate to it because yah know they’re not like your normal heroes or vigilantes, yah know they’re just normal guys like…
TFS: There like normal guys put into an extraordinary situation type deal.
TFS: You know in that 10 years, you’ve done a lot of growing, Sean’s done a lot of growing, Troy’s done a lot of growing so in the characters did you try to portray them as a little more mature and like they’ve just grown up a little bit since then? Because, they were I want to say very young adultish in the first one.
NR: Yeah you’re exactly right, we’re a little bit more mature, I mean we’re 10 years older so ya know that plays a factor just being 10 years older and you can tell, not just physically like your face or anything like that, but you approach things differently, Murphy’s still the hot head he always was and Connor’s the one who lays out the plans.
TFS: Was it hard to get the accent back?
NR: No actually I think I did a better job on the accent. Like the first one was one of my first films so I hadn’t really done an accent before, yah know and we were so rushed to get the first one done because we had a smaller budget and a lot less time so yah know we had dialect coaches with us and we just kind of threw um out the door because the thing is that we were from Boston and we were Irish so its like you couldn’t go full Irish in one direction and you couldn’t go fill Boston in one direction, ya kind of had to like weave in between the two. I mean with the second one because it starts off where we are in hiding in Ireland, the accent is just a little bit thicker because we’re hanging out with pop again.
TFS: Yeah I watched a lot of those videos that Troy put up on YouTube. I was following it since day one and it looked like you guys had a lot more resources this time around.
NR: We did and we had 10 years to think about it, we had more time on this one; there are more characters in this one so Sean and I aren’t in every single scene like in the first one. I was exhausted especially in the first couple weeks of shooting.
TFS: When it came to the script in the first one and maybe you can correct me if I’m wrong but it looked like there was a lot of improvising, so in the case of All Saints Day is it there again? Like, was there just a bare bones script that Troy wrote and then you were adding to it?
NR: Yeah we actually wrote new scenes as we were on set and they made it to the final cut. There were certain things that we clarified story-wise, like why we were there and what’s driven us for 10 years. There’s actually a great scene in there, ill just say it involves and ice skating rink
NR: We improvised quite a bit ya know, we all sat down and we wrote new scenes together. The thing about that film as opposed to their films I’ve done is that it’s like a big family. So it’s easy to communicate with each other. Ya know, Troy’s ego is just the same as everyone else’s, he’s not a maniac so he really listens to people and we listen to each other and the chemistry is just there already.
TFS: On the first one I felt was really just about the brothers and Rocco. But this one you had a lot of other cast including two other saints with Billy Connolly and Clifton Collins Jr. What was it like having two more saints in the mix?
NR: Well the saints are still the saints. I don’t know if we had more saints in it, rather we had the saints working with other people. Ya know the brothers definitely have their brother stuff, and they have their stuff with Cliff, and the brothers have their stuff with Julie Benz’s character. So it’s still a saint’s movie but there are just more of us now, we’ve just grown in number.
TFS: What was it like to work with Billy Connolly again?
NR: Billy’s fun, [laughs]
NR: The guy’s a blast; in this one we just have a lot more scenes with him.
TFS: That is great I am really looking forward to seeing it. Was it fun to work with Julie Benz?
NR: Well, Julie had to walk on a set full of testosterone ya know what I mean, and Julie’s got big elephant balls, she just walked right into it and took over, she is just a great actress and a great personality and a sweet lady. She totally held her own and brought a whole new vibe to it. She did a great job.
TFS: That is awesome. When I heard that she was cast I was a little taken back at first that the really big name was someone like her.
NR: Yeah she’s got like a sex appeal to her and she’s tough and the same time and likeable at the same time. She added a really nice piece to it.
TFS: In the YouTube videos it looked like there was a lot more physicality this time around. Did that take a toll on you?
NR: I pulled my shoulder before we even started the film just doing the training and I had to deal with that going to Pandorum and in Boondock at the same time. So it was just Toronto, Berlin, Toronto, Berlin, Toronto, Berlin and it really started to hurt after a while. At one point we almost stopped and had surgery on my shoulder. Like the ligaments that connect your shoulder to your skull had snapped and like a rubber band coiled up in my back. So they wanted to do a quick surgery and attach that but that would have meant being in a sling for 6 weeks that I would be coming out of and swinging guns so I just chewed on my tongue and went through it. But it definitely hurt.
TFS: I noticed in the trailer you guys were rocking .50 cals now. So was there just a lot of upgrade in the Saints arsenal?
NR: The guns are sick let me tell you, they are hand cannons.
TFS: [laughs] …were like heavy, 1:1 ratio prop guns?
NR: With a bad shoulder they were heavy as fuck.
TFS: I saw it in the trailer and I know it has been talked about. Is there anything you can tell me about Rocco’s cameo in this one, since he dies in Boondock 1?
NR: I can’t tell you [laughs]
NR: If I tell you I’ll give away a lot. But Rocco’s kind of like the voice between the saints and the people. He explains what it means to take that point of view and move with that. So he’s defiantly a pivotal part of the story line. His character explains what we’re doing in a way if that make any sense.
TFS: Yeah that makes complete sense.
NR: Like he explains out psyche a little bit.
TFS: I was really happy when I heard he was coming back but I was afraid of how it was going to be done. Because I didn’t want to see a cheesy Rocco ghost pop up in the middle of nowhere.
NR: No, he’s done in a really hardcore, nice way. He’s introduced and brought in, in a way that’s not funny and everyone sitting around and has opinions but I don’t think anyone would let him get away with coming in corny.
NR: Sony is in on this, Troy is on this, all the actors are in on this, and nobody wants to be part of a corny film.
TFS: Is this story maybe a little darker, like the last one was pretty dark but is this one just a bit more mature?
NR: Yeah, I’d say that. It’s heavier for sure.
TFS: That’s the word I’m looking for. I was also a fan of a lot of the stuff you did outside of Boondock. Blade 2, I remember seeing you on a Law and Order SVU episode, so what can you tell me about Pandorum because I saw the trailer and it looks interesting.
NR: It’s really cool, Christian Alvart is a really good director. He and I were supposed to do a movie called Anti-bodies together and ended up doing different things but became good friends. He and I became friends when I got in a car crash in Berlin, I went to the Berlin Film Festival and got hit by a truck and he sort of stood by my bed the whole time and spoke to the doctors and translated their German. I was kind of like the Elephant Man lying in bed for a couple months. He sort of talked me though it. So when Pandorum came up I joined up. I saw the final version of it and was just blown away, the cinematography is just ridiculous and it’s just awesome.
TFS: Yeah it looks like an excellent fall/horror/action/sci-fi film, just a perfect blend of a lot of genres.
NR: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.
TFS: You said you were working on both Pandorum and Boondock at the same time, were you jumping in between sets?
NR: Yeah, they were actually shooting around me during the first part of Boondock and the producers on bother films knew each other so they were working on my schedule, but I was just beat during that first 2 weeks of shooting. But I was getting my sleep on the plane going from set to set.
TFS: What was your favorite part of Boondock and Pandorum?
NR: Well, Pandorum was a lot of non-English speaking people around me so Ben [Foster] was constantly working everyday and he spoke English and Cam [Gigandet] and I didn’t work on the same day so I didn’t get to see him, but I was coming to set just dead tired and the work was very emotionally draining and my scenes are packed in Pandorum. I was just constantly screaming and fighting for my life and running all over the fucking place. I would sleep and the plane and go back to Boondock and it was just sort of like going back to my family. I think getting back into Boondock, it was such a fun movie to make, and I could do Boondock 7 it was just great.
TFS: Well going along with that, I am certainly hoping, like everyone else, that Boondocks 2 is a huge success. But if it is are we looking at a possible trilogy?
NR: Dude, never say never, I’m hoping it’s a big success too, it seems like it’s going to be.
TFS: Based on the Comic-Con footage where you couldn’t hear you guys over the mic because the crowd was so loud.
NR: It was insane. They said that the line to get in was over a mile and a half long. It was crazy.
TFS: I notice that you, Sean, and Troy took advantage of Twitter to keep in contact with the fans, you actually responded to me once when you put up the link to the fake Boondock trailer, I was the one who replied NOT COOL!!
NR: [laughs] It’s funny because the person who set all this up has been running all of Sean’s Myspaces and Facebooks and Twitters and all that stuff, and I just don’t do the Facebook and Myspace thing really, and she’s just like, do the Twitter thing, promote it promote it, cause it’s like we’re promoting our own little family here. It’s been great to get such great feedback from the first one for so many years. It seems like the fanbase just grows and grows and grows on that. It feels good when people appreciate what you’re doing.
TFS: Did you do anything in terms of DVD commentary yet?
NR: Yes, Troy has done it with Billy so far and I think the next one is us.
TFS: Awesome, thank you so much for your time
NR: And I apologize for the Rick Astley video
TFS: [laughs] It’s cool.
Now for the older (according to Duffy) brother known as Connor, Sean Patrick Flannery:
TFS: Hi Sean, how are you?
SPF: Hey, good how are you man?
TFS: I’m doing well. Ten years is a long time to be away from a character so did you approach it differently this time around?
SPF: I didn’t approach it differently at all man, it was just 5 times easier. Now you kind of know that you did something that the public likes. I think on the first one you are doing something and you hope they like it, but now we did something where we’re like “wow they like these characters” so it was just much more relaxing and there was a lot more freedom.
TFS: So it was easier to do it this time around in terms of getting the attitude back, getting the accent back, just getting in the mind set again?
SPF: Yeah that was easy, I mean literally we put the pea coats on, just shooting and we we’re right back.
TFS: [laughs], Are there better “toys” this time around? I spoke to Norman [Reedus] and he said you were basically rocking hand cannons the whole movie.
SPF: Yeah pretty much. There’s a nice little love sequence where we get out guns, it’s like a love story, it’s pretty cool.
TFS: You specifically from what I have heard in many other interviews have said the set was like a family, can you elaborate on that?
SPF: Yeah it really is, it’s pretty rare you shoot a movie and everybody exchanges phone number but it’s pretty rare that you actually use the phone number after the movie’s done, and this is one where we actually used them, I mean we hung out. Going to each other BBQ’s and going to dinner and hanging out. It’s just very different, I mean Hollywood’s really not like that. At the end of the day you actually go to dinner with each other and go out at night and hang out.
TFS: Now how did you get the role in the first place?
SPF: I mean it was through the audition process. I mean Troy was interviewing a bunch of people and I was lucky because some pretty big names auditioned for it initially and I certainly wasn’t a big name but guys like Marky Mark [Mark Wahlberg] and names like that. So Troy liked me and liked Norm and so we were his selection to do the film and I couldn’t be more gracious.
TFS: Were there any characters you saw in other films that helped influence your portrayal of Connor in some way?
SPF: No, Connor is very much a different character than anything I’ve played before. I think all characters have an element of you in them.
TFS: Well I don’t think you running around killing mobsters [laughs]
SPF: [laughs] Yeah, this character actually more than a lot [laughs]. You’d be surprised, just the ideals and the morals, it’s really what I subscribe too.
TFS: A lot of things got changed around for this one, Julie Benz is replacing Willem Dafoe, Clifton Collins Jr. is taking over the role left behind by Rocco, so how did those changes affect your character and the other characters in the movie?
SPF: I think she is a welcome addition, Julie’s great, so is Clifton. Clifton’s been a buddy of ours for a while so that was easy man. I mean Clifton’s been a buddy so it was easy and coming on to set it wasn’t like meets a new person and Julie, I mean the whole film is such a testosterone-driven film, ya know for her to step in as easily as she did, that’s a testament to her as a person and she fit right in. I think part of the casting process, Troy not only looking at who was right for the role, but who was going to be able to step into such a did driven movie and not get offended on a daily basis, because we’re all telling jokes and shootin the shit, it’s just a very dude oriented movie.
TFS: In the first one Connor had some of the best moments, he drops a toilet on someone’s head, he messes around with the rope a lot, he had some of the better lines during the famous court room speech. Does Connor have more of that? Or is it more evened out this time around?
SPF: It’s definitely even this time.
TFS: What was it like working with Billy Connolly since he has a much bigger role this time?
SPF: Man Billy Connolly is [pause] epic. He is epic and even in the ride to the set in the morning, guys just a load of epic-ness on top of a load of epic-ness.
TFS: [laughs], was it more physical this time around?
SPF: Um, I’d say, yeah. A lot more action, there’s bigger stunt sequences so I’d say it is definitely more physical.
TFS: Being that it is 10 years later I know you said you didn’t approach it differently but in 10 years people grow in one way or another whether they expect it or not. So did the fact that you’re a little older now play into it at all?
SPF: Well it does, in that the characters are the same amount older. So this movie takes place 10 years later but the Saints are still 10 years older.
TFS: And the Saints continue to do what they have done since the first one? So was it straight from the court room to Ireland or did they stay in Boston for a little bit and then went to Ireland?
SPF: It’s all explained in the sequel but yup, they’re doing the same shit.
TFS: Now, besides Boondock, I’m a fan of a lot of your other work. Like when I first saw Boondock I went “that’s Greg Stillson”
SPF: Yeah, yeah, yeah
TFS: So do you have anything else coming up outside of Boondock that people should know about?
SPF: Yeah, I’m putting together a TV project called Devlin Made Me Do It so look out for that. Also a film that I wrote called Sunshine Superman.
TFS: Cool, now I want to talk DVD for a second because I would imagine you, Norman and Troy specifically would be putting a lot of effort in to the DVD since that’s where the audience found the first one. So have you done commentary yet for it?
SPF: We haven’t done commentary yet, we actually do that Wednesday [today].
TFS: Without going into plot detail what was your favorite scene to shoot for this one?
SPF: Hanging 200 feet off a building is pretty cool.
SPF: That has got to be one of y favorite moments.
TFS: Now that you have a bigger budget did you feel that the money was being put to proper use?
SPF: Well that’s a common misnomer. We didn’t have a bigger budget. We shot the first one for $6 Million and we shot this one for $8 Million but the exchange rate was much better in Canada during the one we shot for 6 so actually once you adjust everything we actually shot this for a little bit less.
TFS: So did you feel you were utilizing the money the same way or was it bring used a bit differently than the way it was used in the first one?
SPF: Well we had to operate at a much higher level of efficiency this time. We shot a bigger, more ambitious film, for less money.
TFS: Does it have that same spark that the first one had, or is that spark amplified times 10?
SPF: I think that spark is pretty amplified.
SPF: Pretty much across the board I think that hold true.
TFS: Do you guys have actual screen time with the detectives this time?
SPF: Absolutely, oh yeah.
TFS: Also, what was it like working with Norman again, since you haven’t worked with him in 10 years?
SPF: Yeah but me and Norman are buddies. Literally, we didn’t miss a beat cause we were buddies, we were friends so it was easy.
TFS: Now I asked Norman about this and I want to get your opinion on it too because I think it was really one sided, Overnight what’s your opinion on it?
SPF: Overnight was a great documentary on a tyrant. Now I never met that tyrant. So, I don’t know. Also, notice in that whole documentary never once did they interview the people that he was working with, me, Norman, or anybody else. You could edit anybody to look like anything you want and I guess they had an agenda and they went after it and tried to realize that. Go ahead do whatever you want but I’ve never met that guy.
TFS: Norman said you guys did a lot of improvising so was that rule for you as well? Were you just improvising a lot of the script?
SPF: Yeah, there’s improvisation in it, it’s having a good time, and the script is so well written that it just kind of rolls of the tongue.
TFS: Did you and Norman make any suggestions as Troy was writing or after it was written and you were filming or did you stick to script the whole movie?
SPF: We pretty much stuck to the script. The amount of improvisation is usually inversely proportional to how good a script is and the script is so good that it doesn’t require you to improvise a lot.
TFS: You only have one scene with Rocco in this one, so what was that like and would you agree that the way they bring Rocco in, since he is dead, is loyal to the fan base?
SPF: I think the way they bring Rocco in is 100% loyal to the fan base. It’s not divisive; it’s a very natural, organic way for him to come back. It’s something that was pre-established in the first movie. So it’s staying true to that.
TFS: Trilogy, would you be up for it?
SPF: Fuck yes I would be up for a third because we had so much fun making this. I should be so lucky to be part of a film that has enough success to be making a third, definitely be up for it.
TFS: Do you know if anyone is planning on a third right now?
SPF: Well it’s really going to be determined by the fan reception. If people go see it and it makes money of course they are going to want to make a third.
TFS: When you guys screened this to the public for the first time in Boston what was it like when you saw the reaction that it got?
SPF: It was pretty incredible, I mean we did three days of press out there and I felt like Mick Jagger. The crowds went completely ape shit, it was really cool. It was a neat moment in your life where you get to see the fan apprecitation and admiration. We made a film that we are proud of and it’s neat to see the fans, that they loved it to and we have a great interaction with the fans. We actually interact with the fans, after that we would go to a bar and we would invite them all and we were just drinking with them. It’s not like we are in the VIP area, it’s just totally different man. This movie is very different. Wee are accessible, we are every day guys to put in to a spectacular situation. Those everyday guys aren’t played by pansy actors, they are played by everyday guys.
TFS: Last question, what kind of role does Doughnut [Sean’s dog] have in the movie?
SPF: Oh, she was responsible for the positive attitude of everybody that takes part. Doughnut is a huge fucking star I don’t know if you know this.
SPF: She was there every day and everybody fell in love with her. They wouldn’t give a shit about me, seriously. All the AD’s, never once did they fucking come up to me and go “Flannery can we get you something” but “doughnut, doughnut, do you want a bite of this, do you want bite of that” Doughnut’s a huge fucking rock star.
TFS: Well thanks you very much for your time and I hope the movie is a success.
SPF: I appreciate it brother, bye.
Check out previous interviews here and come back for Troy Duffy’s interview leading up to The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, which hits theaters October 30th.