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'Boondock Saints' creator Troy Duffy talks of his fortuitous rise to Hollywood

BY TIMOTHY RABB
Daily Arts Writer
Published March 7, 2010

Following a series of unfortunate delays due to legal issues and other extenuating factors, the long-anticipated film “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” was finally released last October. In spite of the 10-year gap between the first and second “Boondock” movies, the cult following remained steadfast in devotion to vigilante crime-fighters Connor and Murphy MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus, respectively). But far more captivating than even the iconic pair of civilian law-givers is their creator Troy Duffy. The magnitude of the controversy surrounding him is matched only by his fervor for a subject that has frustrated him since the onset of his career.

“I recently talked to a bunch of fans in Dallas, and I said, ‘Raise your hands if you’ve had a crime committed against you,’ and nearly everyone raised their hands. Then I said, ‘Put your hands down if your crime was solved,’ and not one hand went down,” Duffy said in an interview with the Daily. “I think there’s a certain element of injustice in America these days, and I feel as if we don’t know what to do, like we’re left without any recourse.”

In the mid-1990s, it was this sense of hopelessness that prompted Duffy — then a bartender and bouncer in Los Angeles — to put his feelings to paper.

“I sat down and wrote 'Boondock Saints' to give a bit of fantasy, a little release to those people, to represent what they might like to do if the world were a more just place.”

The story follows the McManus brothers, Irish fraternal twins inspired by a divine goal: brutally kill all of the wicked men in Boston, one thug at a time. Along with their semi-psychotic companion Rocco (David Della Rocco, “Jake’s Corner”), they embark on a spree of violent bloodletting to rid the streets of criminality, all while being pursued tirelessly by an FBI agent (Willem Dafoe, “Antichrist”) and a hired hitman (Billy Connolly, “The Debt Collector”). Since Duffy had absolutely no experience in developing fictional characters or writing for the screen, the origins of his success were all the more impressive.

“That was the first script I ever wrote, but I never had to pitch ‘Boondock Saints’ to a studio exec. A buddy of mine that worked at one of the production houses actually gave me a script that had been made into a movie and I copied the format, but I still had no idea what the fuck I was doing,” Duffy said. “My producer was an assistant at New Line Cinema, and he kept feeding the script to his network of relationships. Pretty soon, this little fire started, and it became so wide in scope that at one point I was in Starbucks and I saw two guys reading my script. Weird, weird stuff.”

Though the transition from bouncer to Hollywood hustler may seem overwhelming, Duffy took it in stride.

“You know, it’s like, ‘How did winning the lottery change your life?’ It’s fuckin’ awesome, you know? I just embraced the shit out of it and put forth a considerable effort to make the best movie possible.”

In spite of his humble beginnings and lack of industry experience, Duffy has been known to espouse the attitude and prowess of a seasoned director with an extensive repertoire. As a result of this entitled demeanor, his methods have been the subject of heated debate among critics and industry magnates alike. After the unexpected success of Duffy’s first screenplay, he was the target of a documentary that lampooned his antisocial behavior: “Overnight” — a film that was originally intended by personal friends Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith as a dedicatory chronicle of his rise to fame — eventually morphed into a tragic portrayal of an alcoholic egomaniac whose ceaseless racial slurs and abusive conduct alienated both close friends and business partners.


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