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Boondock Saints Interview: Norman Reedus & Sean P. Flanery

A cult favorite, Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day reprises the roles of Connor and Murphy MacManus doling out justice with no mercy for hellbound souls.

For nearly a decade, the brothers have been living sans side arms with their father on a sheep farm deep in pastoral Ireland. Yet evil knows no rest as they are framed for the murder of a Catholic priest in Boston. Our honor bound duo must return to Boston and set things right as only the MacManus brothers can. In a recent one-on-one interview, Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery provided some insights on the sequel everyone’s talking about.

What’s the backstory of your characters?

Sean Patrick Flanery: All actors have different methods. For me, it starts on page one and ends at fade out. I don’t need to kill someone to know what it feels like. So the origin of the character came with me reading the script. That’s pretty much it. Some people would love to hear me say that I went on some mental killing spree to “find myself” and get into the character, but he (points to Norman) did. He’s messed up (Norman laughs).

Norman Reedus: It’s like being with this group. It’s too brothers. And when you’re all together, it’s really easy to get into this mode.

Sean: The ideology is something I believed in my whole life. I believe in schoolyard mentality. If you screw up, you deserve to get the shit kicked out of you. Enough with this stuff where you can pull stupid crap and get off with a loophole. If a guy rapes somebody, the girl’s father deserves to grab the guy, scrape his face on the concrete and put a bullet in his head. That’s what I believe.

Norman: (laughs) That’s why he has a shiner right there (referring to Sean’s bruised eye).

Sean: There’s no accountability anymore and people get off with a slap on the wrist. It’s just pansy ass shit. My granddad wouldn’t stand for that kind of shit.

Before you knock your characters off, do you feel a sense of redemption for them?

Sean: Redemption implies that your self worth comes at the end. I think it’s there from the start. If it’s your core values, it’s there from day one.

Norman: I don’t know if it’s forgiveness. It’s more of sending them where they need to be.

Sean: Exactly. Without getting into too much religious philosophy, it’s the greater good. If I have to remove one to save ten, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. If I have to waterboard somebody to save a thousand people, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.

Do your characters enjoy the cat-and-mouse game you play with detective Bloom?

Sean: Yes. Yes.

Norman: Absolutely, yeah. She’s one of us.

What’s your character arc in this film?

Norman: There are things that happen that change us. Specifically within our family. We change at the end, but we’re basically the same people.

Sean: The ideals stay the same. The mechanical element and the way we move forward, the way we graduate to increase what we feel is right with the world takes on a different function. But the meaning and ideology are the same.

The first Boondock Saints really hit a nerve with a lot or people. What appeals to you about these films?

Sean: The schoolyard mentality, man. It’s an ethical, moral story. You f**k shit up, you’ll get f**ked up. There’s no waiting eight months and maybe you get a slap on the wrist. Hollywood should be that way: if an agent treats you like shit, he should get an elbow to the dome, period. You go to any high school yard, shit is regulated. If you talk shit to somebody, after school, behind the 7-11, you’re gonna get the shit kicked out of you. It’s the high school code.

So it’s about accountability and that actions have consequences?

Sean: Everyone should face repercussions for their actions. That’s why people love this story. It’s like one of my favorite quotes from Albert Schweitzer, “Good is that which promotes life, evil is that which destroys life.” That’s how I live my life. I’ll do what I can to promote the greater good. If you can harm one person to save 1,000, I’m gonna do it every f**king time. I don’t give a shit about hurting somebody’s feelings. Or being politically correct. For me, there is no getting into character as far as this film is concerned. I believe this film. It’s the way the world should operate. We’ve lost the schoolyard code. Every guy who’s really a guy knows that code.

How has the film affected your view of crime and criminals? In preparing for the role, how did you reach the mindset to kill?

Norman: Sean has a very cut and dry attitude. For me, it’s just a film and I don’t get into the politics of it as much. The film is about brotherhood and what you would do for your friends and family. So you get into this family mode.

So what happens in Boondocks II?

Sean: It’s 10 years later and we went back home to Ireland. Something transpires that forced us to come out to face it and fix it. It’s something that demeans our character, our ethics, everything that represents who we are. It also answers a lot of questions that the first one raised.

What’s the dynamic between you and Eunice? Is there a love interest?

Norman: I pushed for that, but I don’t think Troy want these brothers to have any sort of relationship. During the college tours of the first film, fans were saying thank you for not taking it in that direction.

Does Eunice come close to catching you guys?

Norman: She’s actually on our side. She’s very smart and she works with some of our friends.

Do you exact payback by pistols or martial arts or a combination?

Sean: I’ve been doing martial arts since I was nine, but I don’t like to see films that use that stuff. Our guys are street brawlers–they’ll go for the eyes, the groin, they’ll f**k you up with a level of venom and viciousness you’ve never seen. There’s no Queensbury Rules here.

Do you always kill the bad guys?

Sean: If they need to be extricated from the gene pool, yeah. It’s not Batman. It’s boom, you’re done. You’re not gonna be resuscitated.

What about Rocko? Ostensibly, he’s a comedic supporting character, but he’s more pivotal than that, isn’t he?

Sean: He’s cool. We grew up with him. He’s a part of this. In a comedic way, he kind of explains to us what we were doing before we knew what we were doing. He puts us back on the path. His monologue in this film is spot on, probably the best part of the entire film, and it speaks to exactly what I was talking about. It’s being John Wayne, saying what you feel without worrying about offending this group or that. Rocko’s monologue is what both films are about.

How did you prepare for the action in the film, and did you have stunt doubles?

Norman: I had a trainer and I tore the muscles in my neck, so I was in a bit of pain doing some of the action scenes. But you just work through it with lots of coffee. There were stunts that Sean might do that I wouldn’t do, although we did a lot of our own stunts.

Is this film more or less violent than the first?

Sean: Actually there’s more violence in Boondocks II, but it’s not gratuitous.

In the trailer, you’re raising your arms to God before you execute this bad guy. What’s the meaning of that?

Sean: We’re raised Catholic and so to take a life is a big deal. You have to accept that it’s for a greater good. And you have to deal with the 5th commandment: thou shall not kill. So it’s a hard rationalization process to wrap your head around. And when you do kill, it’s asking God to please understand how you got to this point, asking him, “I hope you’re on the same page I am. From the tools and the mind you gave me, I think this is what I should be doing and I hope I’m right.”

How do you like working with Troy?

Norman: It’s a very collaborative working relationship. He’s not on the outside looking in. He’s very much in the room with you. He has very clear ideas about what he wants. You’ll end up doing something his way, and he’s right. You trust him.

What about the dynamic between you and Romeo?

Norman: He becomes like a third member of our team. We find him amusing and we like his style. He’s like one of us and we bring him in.

Do your characters ever have doubts about their roles as avengers?

Norman: No. They’re very black and white. That’s the attraction the film has. The brothers are focused and convinced that what they’re doing is right.

What’s your favorite film?

Norman: “Midnight Cowboy.” When I saw it, I realized how important editing can be to a film. I even had a kitten named Ratso Rizzo.

Sean: I liked “Man Bites Dog,” which I thought was one of the most realistic depictions of graphic violence I’ve ever seen. It’s tongue-in-cheek and kind of weird. When he’s smashing that guy’s head against the porcelain sink. I love payback films. I also really liked parts of the documentary “Tyson.”

What do you think the audience should take away from Boondocks II?

Norman: A strong feeling of family. A bond. The film basically asks, “How strong are your convictions about family and friends.”

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