Well boys and girls, here it is, another great posting from the friendly folks at attrition.org. Today, we have an exclusive interview with the writer and director of "Boondock Saints", Mr. Troy Duffy.
Now, for those of you that have not yet seen it, go to your local Blockbuster and rent it. (The film was only released on video there) If you don't have a Blockbuster, find a VHS or DVD for sale on the 'Net somewhere.
I wrote a small review of the film here at attrition.org in 3/00 that sparked quite a bit of interest and email, so I know there are fans out there who use this site. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as Jericho and I did. We tag-teamed Troy and got some great answers, not to mention an autographed movie poster!
Jericho: Why Boston?
Duffy: It is my home in many ways. I was born in Hartford, Connecticut but my family seemed to be constantly moving all up and down the seacoast of New England for much of my life. Boston was always the hub of our community. Today I have a sister, Tiffany that lives there and a little brother, Tate. Also Boston is the most blue collar city in the U.S. The people that I know there would all like to have friends like the MacManus brothers.
Jericho: Plans for another movie (in general, not a 'sequel')?
Duffy: I had the idea in my head since the day I finished the "Saints". Smecker, from within the F.B.I. and Poppa MacManus would work together setting up a nation wide killing spree for Connor and Murphy. It would move from the east coast to the west and be highly public now, huge man hunt. The boys would also recruit two new saints, one with an absolute belief in God and one with no religious conviction what so ever. As for other projects, I am currently working on a script with another writer named Chris Lassiter, a friend. It is called "The Blood Spoon Council". It has much promise.
Jericho: Any hints at what we might expect?
Duffy: The Blood Spoon Council: is a script about a group of vigilantes that hunt, capture and execute serial killers without being interested in whether or not their mommies touched them where they peed when they were children. They are pursued by the F.B.I. They also have very clever and subversive tactics to track and discover killers and have a better average that the Bureau. A similar idea to Boondock but written differently.
Rasputin: You had mentioned a couple of other films you were working on. Can you discuss those?
Duffy: They are really other scripts that I was paid to write by Paramount. I sold a "pitch", two actually. One is called the "Peregrines" and the other is called the "Retirement Plan". The first is about a couple guys with the ability to create mass hysteria by mass hypnosis. The second is about two old guys and two young guys that knock over a bank together.
Rasputin: What made you cast someone like Ron Jeremy as the mafia underboss? I noted in my review that his character was supposed to evoke revulsion and disgust, but what else made you pick him?
Duffy: Ron was kind of a revelation. I wanted a character who oozed disgust in people on sight. So I figured I'd go with a guy that many had a low opinion of, but who I liked very much. My two choices were Andrew Dice Clay and Ron Jeremy. Clay was charging too much and Ron was so damn fun to hang with and enthusiastic I went with him. Also, it may come as a shock but he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, a genuinely sweet person. People ask if I hired him so I could snag a porn actress. No, but none the less, Ron set me up with a girl who had been a Playboy Playmate, for a date. She was gorgeous but probably the most annoying person I have ever met. I sent her home early. There is no substitute for intellect and personality in a woman.
Jericho: If a sequel is done, you should cast Peter North or another notable porn star. =)
Duffy: Just had drinks with Ron last night, even though he doesn't drink. He said if I cast North then his character had to come back in a dream sequence.
Rasputin: My wife has seen the movie and was quite upset about the famous cat scene. What is the overall response you have gotten from that? Any PETA wackos come out of the woodwork over that one?
Duffy: The cat scene was one I thought I'd be in trouble for. That's why I insisted on keeping it. I made up my mind to do my flick, my fucking way. I took shit from a few pissed off cat lovers here and there but no PETA problems, thank God. That being said, I have found that scene to be one of the most revered sequences in Boondocks. Even the people who are pissed, laugh first. It's unexpected. Many don't even figure out it is the cat until the next scene. Incidentally, Rocco's line, "Is it dead?" was an ad lib the day of shooting. Puts a nice bow on it, huh?
Rasputin: What made you script Willem Dafoe as a homosexual, and moreover, such a blatantly obvious one?
Duffy: This question is a bit tricky. First of all I didn't write the script with Willem in mind. That was a casting process, though many people can't imagine any one else in the role, myself included. I wrote the "character" as a homosexual, not the actor. I can best answer why I did this with a little story. When the script was getting hot I was able to meet a legendary cinematographer named William Fraker (shot "Rosemary's Baby" for Christ sakes). He had read it and said that it seemed like a script that would have been some pro writers "heart felt" script that had been nurtured over years of work. He asked "How did you do this?" My response was the only thing he could have possibly swallowed cuz it was the truth. I said, "Bill, I just made the shit up".
However, I am not oblivious to what advantages were gained by making him gay. He was at odds with the Boston cops right off the bat so they would ultimately have to accept the fact of his homosexuality in order to start respecting his prowess as an investigator. I got humor out of it in the "What a fag" scene. I got flamboyance and many more things. One thing I really like is that I read, years ago, that homosexuals were tired of being portrayed as limp wristed fairys and were upset that no positive gay characters had emerged in film in a long while. You're welcome.
Jericho: That made everyone laugh I think.
Rasputin: I know my wife laughed, and she doesn't have the kind of sense of humor.
Duffy: Funny thing. So many people say that they aren't usually "into" these kind of films but loved the Saints. I think it really struck a chord of some kind. Beyond all its black humor, violence and brutality there seems to be a message. Though I have heard many different people interpret it in many different ways. For instance I thought my mom would hate it cuz it was violent. She said, "Don't ever say that. Don't ever sum up what you did with one lousy word. There is much more here than just violence, son". She's a saint.
Rasputin: The storyline itself seems pretty rich and in depth. How much of the background imagery is drawn from personal experience?
Duffy: Some...but I can't remember which ones. A lot of it is just creative. You make something up and people ask you where you got it. Thin air, man, thin air.
Rasputin: I've seen comment on the Internet, including some from me, drawing comparisons between you and Quentin Tarantino and his films. Any comment on that?
Duffy: Quentin Tarantino was such a force in independent film I think any original idea in film that has anything to do with the crime genre is instantly compared to him. Though for my money Tarantino invented "cool" in independant film, I do not consider myself a student of his. In any of his flicks all the characters could die in a huge shoot out and you'd think it's cool. I prefer to make my audience care deeply about the characters and not want to see them die, six of one half dozen of the other. I can't escape Tarantino. Even on the back of the box at Blockbuster it compares me to "Pulp" and "Reservoir Dogs", two of my favorites. On the one hand I'm flattered, on the other a bit annoyed...but I suppose I could be in worse fucking company, huh? The real upsetting thing is I haven't gotten to meet him yet. That'd be something. I'd like to hear what he has to say about the "Saints". We'd either become fast drinking buddies or get in a fist fight.
Rasputin: Suppose for a moment there were people out there wacking bad guys like the brothers did in Saints. What would be your opinion on that?
Duffy: This was actually a concern during shooting. Had a few nightmares. It comes down to this. I will not have my actions dictated to me by what some psycho may or may not do. People who are violent will commit violence regardless. Nothing in a song, a movie or a book ever "made" anybody do anything. But after the fact these nut cases are pretty damn good at using it as a scapegoat, no? Something in "society" made me do it. I'd also like to say to any fucking retard out there who is thinking of it - don't. You're insane. Get some help.
Rasputin: Saints has become a "cult" film. Do you plan to quietly release future films like this, or are you looking to do full-blown theater releases in the future?
Duffy: Yes, it has become a "cult" film. Do you know what that is? It's simple. A cult flick is a film that Hollywood missed. They made a mistake, plain and simple. After people's love of the film is expressed the number one comment I hear is "Why wasn't this in theaters?" I had my industry screenings a few weeks after Columbine occurred, when the president was forming judiciary committees against violent film. Studios were pulling back and Boondocks was black listed. If anybody had the nuts, we could have seen exactly what this movie could have done in theaters.
But, fuck it. I have received mail from fans all over the world. The raw fact is, Boondocks hit the public and they loved it. That's enough for me. It's gonna be released in Japan in Feb, in theaters, nation wide. We'll get to see what happens now. I am sure in my heart that what happened here happened the way it was supposed to. I love this film. I am proud of this film.
Jericho: A big one. Boondock has so many thing going for it, and it stands out on so many levels. Once the film was done, was there thought about holding on to it waiting to release it after the Columbine incident passed?
Duffy: There was the thought, but I thought I would be a pussy if I did it. Nothing is more precious than when a film has sudden social relevance. I wept when I saw Columbine on the news. I attended college in Fort Collins Co. and felt horrible but I decided to take that controversy head on. In terms of a theatrical release in the states I lost that battle but I'm proud I didn't back down and try to wait it out. I wonder if some studio head had had the nuts and seen the relevance what could have happened.
Jericho: I noticed that Rocco kept his name in the movie. Is this a personal friend of yours? Was that part written with Rocco in mind?
Duffy: Yeah. Rocco's a buddy of mine that was managing the bar I worked at when I wrote it. He always locked the place up at 2 a.m. and a pack of us usually drank till 6 or so. He was my and my brother's dear friend. I liked his personality so I wrote him in, unbeknownst to him. When I was done he refused to have anything to do with it. In fact, I had a reading at a cigar bar and he wouldn't even play his part. He said that so many guys try to do this stuff that it was almost statistically impossible that the script would even sell and he didn't want to get his hopes up. It was kind of sad really. So when Harvey came in the bar looking for me, needless to say Roc jumped right on board. His real personality is not too far removed from what you see on screen. I know no one could have given me the singular performance that he did. The studio begged me to cast a name but I pinned the whole deal to him being pre-approved in that role. You don't get the movie if he isn't Rocco. They agreed of course and there was nothing they could do.
Duffy: Yes. You can have a role in the film, don't push it.
Rasputin: Really? Cool. Just don't script my character as gay, I'll never live that one down with my biker buddies.
Attrition review of Boondock Saints