An audience with the Boondock Saints

It was a strange night at the Mall of America last evening. “Twilight Saga:New Moon” fans filled the rotunda for the appearance by Edi Gathegi and Jamie Campbell Bower. Meanwhile upstairs in the movie theater a wondrous collection of pumped-up Boondock Saints fans were howling at the arrival of director Troy Duffy and star Sean Patrick Flanery (pictured above.)

Duffy and Flanery came to introduce “Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day,” and to grow the legend of one of the stranger film stories in recent years.

In case you missed it, here’s the thumbnail: in the late 1990’s Troy Duffy became a Hollywood hot property because of his “Boondock” script. The story of a pair of gun-toting Irish vigilantes blasting Boston baddies seemed ideal for studios eager to build on the success of “Pulp Fiction.” He got a huge advance from Miramax, a budget for his film which he was also to direct.

Then things went south real fast.

Duffy alienated Miramax with his behavior, and the studio pulled out. He also had agreed to let some friends make a film of his experience in the Hollywood limelight, and when things went bad it got captured on film. The resulting documentary “Overnight” portrayed Duffy as an egomaniacal bully. Duffy made his film on half the budget he’s had from Miramax, but then found in post-Columbine days no distribution company would touch a movie about a pair of black coat clad guys shooting people. The film opened briefly on a handful of screens, got ripped by critics, and that appeared to be that.

However as Duffy and Flanery told the MOA crowd, that’s when the Boondock fanbase began kicking in. As the film appeared in video stores it began to attract fans who made sure their friends all saw it. Then they in turn turned on their friends. Official estimates say about $50 million worth of discs have sold over the years since. Duffy and Flanery toss around much larger numbers than that.

Now after a decade, and lawsuits, and a lot of other strange stuff the Boondock Saints are back, and judging by the reception the movie got from the Minnesota crowd it’s not a moment too soon.

The Troy Duffy who appeared in the movie theater was not a monster. In fact, while he does delight in the use of expletives, he was thoughtful, and even charming in a blunt kind of way. Flanery was also clearly having a ball, and described making Boondock 2 as the best experience he ever had making a film, with Boondock 1 being the second.

“It was like they gave a bunch of blue collar dudes the keys to Hollywood,” he proclaimed at one point.

After the q and a and a signing where the Boondocks posed for dozens of pictures, they sat down with me for a long chat. We’ll air some of it tomorrow evening.

As they left, I mentioned the Twilight Saga folks were there too.

“So who would win in a fight?” I had to ask. “The Boondock Saints or the vampires and the werewolves?”

Sean Patrick Flanery smiled back and said, “I could take five of them myself.”

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