The Return Of Il Duce: Billy Connolly Talks ‘Boondock Saints II’

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Billy Connolly is truly a jack of all trades. For well over three decades, this Scottish comedian, musician and actor as been winning over fans worldwide with his solid bodies of work and undeniable charm. Connolly may best known to American audiences from his role on the comedy series “Head of The Class” or as a brilliant stand-up comic that never fails to bring down the house, but to a whole new generation of fans, Billy Connolly is the mysterious and very lethal patriarch of the “Boondock Saints.” Directed by Troy Duffy, Connolly played opposite of Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as the head of the McManus clan in a unique film that would go on to become one of the biggest cult sensations in movie history. Over a decade later, he finds himself reprising the role of “Il Duce” in one of the most highly anticipated sequels of all-time. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Connolly as he and the rest of the cast traveled the country to give fans their first glimpse of the film. In the interview we discuss his past, the challenges of playing a hard as nails killer, his upcoming projects and the triumphant return of The Boondock Saints.

*Warning: This interview may contain possible spoilers!
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boondock-saints-2-poster_248x368What got you started on your journey in the entertainment industry?

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Well, it is kind of strange. I have always liked American country music. Hank Williams and stuff like that. I wanted to play it and I didn’t know anyone that did. The the whole folk music thing started. I saw Pete Seeger playing the banjo on television, so I went out and I got myself one. I got into that whole circuit of folk music, banjos, country music, bluegrass and old-timey music. One thing led to another and eventually I was taking a lot of time between songs and describing songs in a funny way and I became a comedian, almost be accident.
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How did you first get involved with Troy Duffy and the original Boondock Saints film?

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My agent sent me the script and asked me if I would go and talk to this “Troy Duffy guy”. I couldn’t believe the script! With people dyin’ all over the place. I didn’t know what part he wanted me to play, so I met him in a bar in Los Angeles. He was there with his brother and they were a wild bunch, ya know, and I don’t drink. I used to drink, so I understand the game. This nutcase, this mad director, put his hands on my shoulders and said “I want ya to do this!” He had one arm over my shoulder and with his other, he was waving his index finger telling me all the great names that he wanted to play this part but he was going to give it to me. I was completely sold on it. I loved his enthusiasm, ya know! I love his enthusiasm to this day!
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When you guys were working on the first film, did you have any idea that the film would develop into the cult phenomenon that it has?

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I think it became quite apparent when we were making it that it was something really special. It looked special. Even the equipment that we were all using, black coats and all that with the guns and the boys and the way they went about saying prayers before they killed people. Everybody knew that it was something special and a bit different and that it was going to be noticed. I was always really enthusiastic about it. I had great faith in it.
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I know you don’t want to give to much away but what can you tell us about your role in Boondock Saints II?

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My role is very similar to the original film but their is much, much more of a storyline for me this time around. They go over my history. They go over the history of why I am like I am and what got me to that point. Before that, I was quite glad to look as if I came from Hell or someplace like that, ya know! [laughs] A killer that just killed because he didn’t mind doing it, ya know?! He was the ultimate judge, that just came and cut you down. So, I was quite happy with that but Troy has written me a whole backstory and background. That is where the Peter Fonda role comes in, ya know?
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billy-connolly-2What was it like working alongside Peter Fonda?
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Oh, it was a joy! An absolute joy, what a nice man! He has an extraordinary background but he doesn’t wear it like costume jewelry. He just goes to work like anybody else. He is a very generous performer, very generous indeed, ya know, with his time and space. If he sees a bit that he think can be improved, he will bring it up in front of everybody and say something like “Why doesn’t Billy come in from this side?”. When you are a big star, people tend to like you a bit, but he doesn’t give a shit about that. He’ll just walk straight in front of me and confront me and that is the way we did it. I found him to be a very generous performer.
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Did you do any special preparation for the role?

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Oh I grew a beard! [laughs] You must always grow a beard, not wear a stick on one, they are hellish! The glue just drives you insane through the day. They keep coming off and you have to have them re-stuck and they feel like shit. It’s like walking around with honey on your face.
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I know that it was important for all of you to bring the film to the fans first. You have been taking the film around to several major cities to show it off to the them. What has that experience been like for you?

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We have been interacting with the fans at the premieres but we have also been going to colleges, like Boston College and Emerson college, during the day. We were interviewed by the students and had a big audience. It was lovely! They were all nuts about the original and they were dying to see the new one. The film got a standing ovation in Boston!
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That is exciting to hear, speaking as a fan, I know I am really excited to see it.

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Yeah, it is a wee bit, slightly more humorous. It takes itself slightly less seriously. I am still death on wheels!
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Well it is good to hear that you haven’t lost your touch!

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Ohhhhhh noooo! [laughs] I am still deadly!
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I know that over the years, Troy Duffy has gotten a bad rap in a lot of circles, which isn’t necessarily fair.  Having worked with him, twice now, I wanted to see what you think the biggest misconception about him is?
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The biggest misconception about Troy is that he takes himself too seriously. He does take himself seriously, as I think everyone should to a degree, but he doesn’t take himself to seriously. He is a good lad and loves a joke. I think Troy answered all the critics when everybody came back to work again. He has the exact crew and Peter Fonda. If he was a bad guy, none of us would have returned. Everybody is back and we are all busy guys, it isn’t like we have nothing else to do!
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billy-connolly-3Looking back on your experiences with making both films. What stands out as your fondest memory?

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I just want to kill people. [laughs] It is a great feeling getting to do that, ya know! Putting on your six 9MM pistols and going around killing assholes all day. It’s a joy!
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I know that actors sometimes tend to take a little piece of the film with them. Did you hang onto anything from the film as a souvenir?

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We all kept our rosaries. Troy made them.
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Which do you prefer, performing stand-up comedy or acting?

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I don’t prefer one over the other but often one will step in when one is getting to be to much, ya know? When you are getting a wee bit feed up on the road, it is great to step into a movie and do that. Likewise when you are getting bored in the film world, it is lovely to be able to step out and be a comedian again. I have the luxury of doing both, which is just a blessing to say the least, at my advanced stage in life.
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What do you attribute the longevity of your career to?

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Just consistency, I think. I think that is the answer to everything, to remain consistent and take it seriously all the time. Don’t coast. In comedy, you are under such pressure from all of the other guys, that takes care of itself. In drama and film, you have to keep trying your best and don’t just settle for the middle of the road all the time. I think that is what kills people. They settle for less, ya know? They go for big money at the time but mediocre material and it just kills them.
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Having been in the game as long as you have, have you noticed a big change in your audiences?

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I can’t see any change in them at all, they are still the same to me, but I think they have become very educated  by comedy especially. I used to be the wildest guy on the block, ya know? Now I am not. A lot of things that used to be sort of wild and dangerous are considered sort of novel now. Comedy constantly astounds me, especially television comedy. British television comedy has gotten amazingly good. The standard for the written stuff has gotten very, very high. Like the show ‘Little Britain’ and ‘The League of Gentlemen’ have taken it to another place altogether. I think the standard all around is immensely high. I was lucky to get a start when I did, ya know!
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billy-connolly-4Looking back on your career, is there something that you single out as your defining moment?

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Yeah, I did the Michael Parkinson Show in England, which is the equivalent of doing Johnny Carson in America. Before I knew it, I was famous. I was was quite big before that in concert halls, but I was quite obscure to the general public. I did the Michael Parkinson Show in London, I lived in Scotland at the time, and on the way home I was at the London Airport and a Chinese guy asked me for my autograph. I remember thinking to myself “Holy shit, I’m famous!” We got off the plane in Glasgow and the people in the airport all applauded because they had seen the show the night before.
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Very cool! Can we expect to see you hit the stage here in the United States anytime soon?

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Yeah. I am doing London in January and right after that I will be coming to America.
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What other projects are on the horizon for you?

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I did ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ with Jack Black. I am not exactly sure when that is coming out, I think around Christmas sometime.
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What is the best piece of advice that someone has given you along the way in your career, and what is the best advice that you have for anyone who would like to get involved in the entertainment industry?

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Don’t forget how exciting it was when you first started. If you think about it properly, that feeling will stay. Don’t take it for granted and aim as high as you did when you started and stay there! That’s all!
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billy-connolly-1Is there anything else that you would like to say to the Boondock Saints fans?

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I love ya! You are awesome!
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Any chance for a Boondock Saints III in the future?

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Oh, they are already talking about that! I’m dead so I don’t care! [laughs]
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Well ya know, if Troy can bring Rocco back, he could always bring Il Duce back too!

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That’s what I was telling him last night! That Rocco and I should come back in the third one! We can come back, all as ghosts!
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Kinda like they did in Star Wars: Return of The Jedi!

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Yeaaaah! [laughs]
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Well thanks for your time Billy, we will be spreading the word about the film and look forward to catching you on stage soon!

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Thank you very much! It’s been nice talkin’ to ya, man!
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More of our ‘Boondock Saints II’ Interviews…


Sean Patrick Flanery
– Click Here >

Norman Reedus – Click Here >

Bob Marley – Click Here >

David Della Rocco – Click Here >

Comments

comments

13 Responses to “The Return Of Il Duce: Billy Connolly Talks ‘Boondock Saints II’”

  1. Shenk says:

    THEY GAVE AWAY THE FACT THAT IL DUCE DIES!!!!! :(

  2. Brandon Dollar says:

    :(

  3. Kayla says:

    Billy is awesome! DEMAND THE MOVIE!!!

    Want To See Boondocks II? You’ll Have To Demand It! http://is.gd/4zAE2 Spread the word! Let’s take it nationwide!

  4. Jax says:

    Spectacular interview! Thanks!!!

    Can’t wait to see the film!

  5. Boondock 4 Life says:

    How amazing is it that Troy and company pulled this off. We as fans owe them a lot!

    DEMAND BOONDOCK II! http://is.gd/4zAE2 Spread the word! Let’s take it nationwide!

  6. Think Tank says:

    Thanks Troy!! Keep it going!!! Hit all you social networks with…

    DEMAND IT!! http://is.gd/4zAE2 Spread the word! Let’s take it nationwide!

  7. THE MAN says:

    Anyone know where we can get the Il Duce comic?

    Please post up if you do!

  8. His Infernal Majesty says:

    Great stuff! I saw the movie in Philly and it really deserves to go national! Fans will not disappointed!

    Spread the word!

    DEMAND IT!!! http://is.gd/4zAE2 Spread the word! Let’s take it nationwide!

  9. Lizard says:

    Viva Il Duce! Billy is the man! Thanks for all the great info!

  10. Whacks Poetic says:

    Boondock 2 needs to go national! It is a terrific flick. I caught the Boston showing and the cast was there. A great evening and they are all amazing!

  11. Pistol Grip Pete says:

    FANTASTIC! Long live Il Duce and Billy for that matter.

  12. Ryan says:

    Troy really showed the critics and haters! Way to go guys!

  13. Brian R. says:

    A very fun read! I bet he was a ton of fun on the set with all the guys back together. As they said above…

    DEMAND BOONDOCK SAINTS 2!! http://is.gd/4zAE2

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