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LAist Interview: Troy Duffy, The Boondock Saints 2

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Photo courtesy of Courtney Quinn

Most fans of The Boondock Saints have heard some pretty nasty stuff about its Writer/Director Troy Duffy. I’ve been in this conversation a million times and it starts off by a random Boondock Saints reference, “Thanks for coming out,” something like that. Then there’s shared enthusiasm for the film among those who’ve seen it, “I love that movie!” and bewilderment toward those who haven’t, “You’ve never seen The Boondock Saints

In either case, the conversation ends up on a variation of, “Troy Duffy, that dude’s a douchebag. There’s this whole documentary about how much he sucks.” That documentary film, Overnight, was shot over a three-year period before, during and after the filming of the original Boondock movie. Even though I’ve never seen the documentary or met many people who have, Duffy’s reputation has been tarnished through the same word-of-mouth network that he credits with the huge cult success of The Boondock Saints. Could he really be that bad? Here’s what Boondock Saint Norman Reedus had to say about the documentary on Duffy.

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Reedus: As far as Overnight, I mean if you have enough footage of Santa Clause you can edit it to make him look like an asshole. And it’s completely not true, I mean it’s supposed to be a documentary about Troy and it just shows one side. I remember those guys on set, they kept saying, “Can we do your interview?” and I’d be like, “Troy, I don’t even like these guys.” I’d tell them, “Yeah, we’ll do it tomorrow, we’ll do it tomorrow,” and I’d just push it off until we wrapped the movie and then I just ran. You could tell something was shady with those guys and it’s a testament to Troy that every single person on the first film came back for the second one, and like at the drop of a hat. They wouldn’t have done that if Troy were like he was portrayed in Overnight.

When I went to interview Troy earlier this week, I was as curious to see what he would be like in person as I had been to see his Boondock sequel it took ten years to make. He’s got this voice that sounds strangely like Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl, but he’s not a bad guy. IIn fact he was fun to talk to and very open. I don’t know how I’d react to reporters if I’d been burned by documentarians. Read on to learn a little about the man in his own, unedited, words.

LAist: So on your inspiration for the first Boondock Saints movie, I’ve read that there was a murder across the street from where you worked?

Duffy: Yeah, that wasn’t the only thing. It was basically that we lived in a hellhole, my brother and me. It’s not the most unique story in the world, we saw crime around us all the time and we were the victims of crime sometimes. You realize that you don’t have any recourse. You know, your car gets vandalized or your apartment gets broken into and the cops come in, “Here’s your report.” Phhht, nothing gets done. And they’ve got a tough job, too. Frankly, they should be tracking down the bad guys, but here they are. We realized that Joe Average doesn’t have much recourse when they’re the victim of crime, so therefore that little seed was planted. I believe everybody has the same reaction -- liberal, conservative, pro-life, pro-choice--whoever you are, when you see something truly disgusting on the news, a four-year-old girl, raped, tortured and killed, the instant reaction I believe we all have is, “Whoever did that should die.” We may not say that, in fact probably 95 percent of us don’t. We may not all support capital punishment and vigilantism, I’m sure the healthy majority of us don’t, but we all have that thought. I believe that. This was a way to play with that fantasy, give a little bit of escape, and maybe the next time somebody has a crime committed against them they can take it with a grain of salt that it’s probably never going to get solved.

LAist: It felt like in the second movie that we lost a little bit of that, that there was more this reoccurring theme of backstabbing. There’s the literal stab in the back in the beginning of the movie…

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Duffy: Mmm hmm.

LAist: And a situation where El Duce has been stabbed in the back by a friend of his, so where did the motivation for that come from?

Duffy: That was just something to throw into the mix, you know?

LAist: Did it have anything to do with Overnight? You’ve commented on that feeling like you’d been stabbed in the back.

Duffy: No, and by the way, don’t be afraid to ask me about that. No, that came from the story. Boondock fans have deemed that first film sacred ground. The kind of fandom we have here, that we’re lucky enough to have, is over the fucking moon. They’ve frame-fucked this movie into the ground. They know everything about it. So in writing a sequel, for me, you can’t just rest on the laurels of the first movie and do some polished up version of Boondock I. I wanted to give them a whole new story. There were a lot of curveballs and new aspects in there. The humor, we pushed that further. Higher body count, more gun fights. We went into period piece flashbacks to 1950’s New York to explain El Duce’s history. Boondock fans are not used to this type of thing. We’ve got a Mexican in there. We’ve got a female lead in Boondock II. That hit the fan base like cold water in the face when they heard that one, but now they can’t live without her from the three screenings that I’ve seen with about 1,300 kids. It’s a way to give them everything they loved about the first film, yet throw a brand new plot and story line at them that they could never have predicted. To show them the new thing we’re gonna make cool. The backstabbing part of it, that’s just a piece of it.

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LAist: What about the documentary? I haven’t seen it, but from what I’ve heard you come across as kind of a jerk. Was it a straight documentary or was there an axe to grind?

Duffy: I believe… ha, “I believe.” No, there was an axe to grind. Two friends of mine at the beginning of all this… I was just a bartender and I wrote my first script and low and behold, it sold and there was a bidding war and a whole bunch of press on it… At that time, two of my friends came and asked me and the rest of the guys if they could do a documentary. We trusted them cause they were our friends and we granted the permission that they requested and let them film to their hearts content the three most tumultuous years of my life. They edited that down into a complete smear job, very biased, very one-sided. I think that everybody all the way down to crew members, not just the entire cast, coming back and doing this again speaks much louder than that.

LAist: So do you plan on doing a third Boondock Saints movie? The ending seems open to that, I mean you can’t just leave The Saints where you left them in this film.

Duffy: Ha, yeah. There are some ideas percolating, you know.

LAist: So, maybe in another ten years?

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Duffy: We’ll see. I’d like to get a couple of things off my chest before that. During the last ten years I’ve written five scripts. Boondock II, the most important one, is done. I would like to knock the other four down like dominos. They are very, very different stories than Boondock. But, yeah, there’s definitely the possibility of a third.

LAist: What do you hope the audience will take away from Boondock II?

Duffy: They can take what ever they want away from Boondock II. Every time I talk to fans and ask, “Why do you,” I mean the guys with
the tattoos and shit, “Why do you like this movie so much?” They all give me different answers. Some people like the brothers’ relationship. Some people had a friend like Rocco in high school. Some people like the religious slant to it, you know, back to Old Testament shit back when God had balls. Some people just like the lucky Irish guys who seem to get out of things by the hair of their teeth. “Take from it what you will,” is what I would say to the fan base. This is your cheeseburger. Eat it.

LAist: What was your favorite part about filming this movie?

Duffy: I think it was vindication. It’s no longer a matter of opinion anymore, if Boondock I had been released in theaters it would have been a gigantic fucking hit. The film has virtually become a financial juggernaut in the last ten years. The audience has grown and grown and grown. DVD sales are up every single year from the time it came out until now. We didn’t get a shot back then to succeed on the level that lots of other film get the chance to. Being barred from theaters like that was a big blow to us and we worked really hard on that thing. This time we’re getting an honest chance, a real shot. And I know there are a lot of Boondock fans that have never heard of the film, I or II, I can tell sometimes when a guy hasn’t seen it and I know he’d be into it. So I think that what my hopes are, and what I’m most excited about, is seeing what this can really do. It’s like going to your kid’s first little league game; you hope he’s got a big bat and a big glove. And we’ll see. Maybe the kid’s a star, you never know.

Article by Courtney Quinn