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BACK IN ACTION: John McNaughton On His Return To Cinema With ‘The Harvest’

BACK IN ACTION: John McNaughton On His Return To Cinema With ‘The Harvest’

john-mcnaughton-2015-2

In his first film in nearly 15 years, the director of ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ harks back to the depravity that made his 1986 debut a horror milestone. But less based in reality, The Harvest is closer to a fairy tale from Grimm’s darkest corners. Maryann (an impressive Natasha Calis) moves in with her grandparents after she’s orphaned. Desperately lonely, the preteen sets out to befriend a neighboring deathly ill, bed-ridden boy (Charlie Tahan), despite the outright disapproval of his mother (Samantha Morton). Maryann’s persistence pays off, however, and during a series of secret visits she gradually uncovers some seriously sinister goings-on in the house… Morton as the boy’s overprotective surgeon mom is the stuff of great screen villainy—at once utterly monstrous and tragically desperate—so much so that she makes even frequent heavy Michael Shannon, as the more subdued dad, pale in comparison. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with director John McNaughton to discuss his legendary career, return to feature filmmaking and the challenges he faced along the way.

What intrigued you about the world of filmmaking early in your life and ultimately led to you making it a career?

I don’t know exactly! [laughs] I always knew I would be in the arts in some way or another. It was something that was sort of imprinted on my being. I went to art school and it led me to realize I wasn’t going to be a painter or sculptor. The art form I really responded to was film and television, so I switched my major and got a degree in television production. In a number of years, I would find my way into making my first film. It’s not so easy! It certainly wasn’t easy before digital technology because everything was shot on film and it cost a fair amount of money to process.

Who were some of the artists or mentors who helped shape you in those formative years?

Director John McNaughton

Director John McNaughton

I grew up in the late 1950s and the 1960s and I was an only child, so I spent a great deal of time in front of the television set. I watched a lot of old American movies, which were on television a lot in those days. I guess it was just instinct that pushed me in that direction. Mentors, I had virtually no mentors until later on. As I have often said, the first movie set I set foot on I was the director on. I had no mentors until I made “Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer.” Someone who gave me a giant helping hand along the way was Martin Scorsese, who asked me to direct “Mad Dog and Glory.” I love his films. I remember going to see “Mean Streets” before “Who’s That Knocking At My Door,” which was his first film. His first commercial film was “Mean Streets” and I went to see it with a few friends. We had all grown up on the south side of Chicago and basically snuck into see the movie. It was like we were seeing a movie about ourselves! [laughs] The south side of Chicago was a fairly rough place and we pretty much looked like the guys in that movie when we snuck into see it! We were wearing our leather Beretta jackets and similar hairdos. Martin Scorsese was a big influence and a mentor to me.

You can’t go wrong with that!

No. No you can’t! [laughs]

I know it has been about 15 years since your last feature film. What made you return to directing film?

Ya know, I think it is hard to shake it once you have been bitten. I had the bug! I had taken a vacation from the whole thing. I had worked so steadily for about 15 years or so and I was a little bit burnt out. One thing led to another. I did some television in those years, a number of TV pilots. TV pilots that don’t get picked up are like trees falling in the forest, no one sees them or knows about them. A lot of work goes into them but ultimately they are something that no one ever sees, so it doesn’t really help your career to do TV pilots unless they get picked up for a series.

What was it about “The Harvest” that made it the right choice for your return to feature films?

'The Harvest'

‘The Harvest’

When my agent sent me the script, I wasn’t exactly sure I wanted to do it. I said, “I’m not sure about this at all.” He said, “Read it again. I think there is something there.” I did read it again. The original script was more of what I would call ooga booga, which is sort of an industry term for a standard horror film. I shouldn’t say standard because this material was not something I had seen before. We took the script in a different direction than in which it was written. Originally, it was a little bit more of a stock horror film. We took the ideas I found interesting in a deeper direction. To me, it is about the fears of childhood. You know, it’s much more psychological than overt. In fact, I don’t know if it will ever be rated but I am daring the MPAA to give it anything more than a PG rating. It has no overt violence, it has no real blood or dismemberment, no sexual situations, no nudity or bad language. It is really the idea that is horrific in this particular movie. I was thinking about it the other day and I think it is my statement on childhood and my last word on my own childhood and thereby my chance to put it to rest.

When taking on the project, did you have a particular vision for the film in a stylistic sense?

We had a 28-day schedule for this film. We also had two children, so they couldn’t work the full 12-hour day. Michael Shannon had a play on Broadway, so we lost him Tuesday through Friday at about 6 p.m. The schedule was really difficult because we couldn’t do overtime because we just didn’t have the actors. It was a miracle to be able to make the picture in 28 days under those conditions. I didn’t try for any big reaches stylistically and opted for a very simple and direct style. It was really concentrating on performance. In my hiatus, I had done some theater in Chicago and Los Angeles. The last thing I had done was a John Patrick Shanley play called “Danny and The Deep Blue Sea.” It is basically two characters throughout the play. I really enjoyed working with the actors on performance and character and not having to deal with a crew, a company and all of that stuff. With this particular film, I really just wanted to concentrate on the actors and the performances.

Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon in 'The Harvest'

Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon in ‘The Harvest’

The performances are very strong, I have to say. What did the cast bring to these characters that wasn’t on the written page?

Both Michael Shannon and Samantha Morton are both parents. Samantha had two children when we were making the picture and now has three. Michael has a daughter. I think it was very difficult for them to actually have to go there. They are both actors who actually go there! They don’t work the circus they go to the depths! I don’t want to give anything away but I think being those characters and what they face is not a very nice place to have to go. I think Michael and Samantha brought the darkness of what it is that they are up to as characters. To me, Samantha’s character has these maternal instincts that have gone awry. What she is doing in a sense is noble. She is saving her child. What was it that they said about Colonel Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’? “His methods are unsound.” Her methods are very unsound! This was my first time working with kids and going to that sort of depth. I think they were doing their very best to be those kids. They are both incredibly gifted actors and very instinctual, especially Natasha [Calis]. Charlie [Tahan] is much more planned out in what he is going to do, where Natasha lives much more in the moment and reacts.

What challenges did you face in bringing this film to life?

Our cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, when I showed her that she would be spending the majority of the film in one room, I think it was a big challenge for her! [laughs] I think it scared her a little bit! She said, “Can’t we knock out a wall here?” [laughs] No! This is somebody’s house! [laughs] Working in the confines of the house and the kid’s room was certainly challenging because there wasn’t much space. You have to think about how to shoot it in such a way to make it interesting because we spend so much time in that room. I think there are only five locations in the film, which is very unusual. Seventy-five percent of the film takes place in the house. That was challenging and the house became very much a character in the film. Another challenge came while we were in prep and Hurricane Sandy struck New York. At that point, it was such a disaster, we didn’t know if we would be able to continue. We had offices in Manhattan but everyone else, from production design to costume design and everyone else in between, were located in Brooklyn. We literally couldn’t get there. There was a fair amount of damage done to the house, which was about 40 minutes north of Manhattan. It really threw the entire production into turmoil. We had to postpone our shoot by about two weeks, which meant we were coming into winter, which was not a good thing. That was a pretty interesting challenge having that hurricane hit New York. There are always interesting challenges along the way and those were some of ours.

Samantha Morton in 'The Harvest'

Samantha Morton in ‘The Harvest’ – Her character’s methods are very unsound.

Looking back on your body of work, how have you most evolved as a filmmaker?

It’s funny because I am sitting here reading a book called “Grammar of The Film Language.” It is pretty dry and technical to people. It shows you the various camera placements, how to stage a scene and so on. It is a 600-page book and I read it years ago. I am reading it again now and it is like I never read it in the first place! I find myself thinking, “I didn’t know anything!” [laughs] Here it is 30 years into a directorial career and it is like a revelation reading this book! So many of the things I do I know by instinct. I will say, when I was growing up in the ‘60s, we didn’t want to have jobs and wanted to live wild lives! [laughs] Myself and most of my friends did! I knew eventually I wanted to be a filmmaker but there were other things I wanted to do and I did them! I toured North America with a traveling carnival, I built big racing sailboats, I made jewelry for a living and traveled all over. I did all of those things and once I learned to do them, I was sort of bored. Once I mastered something, I would move on to master something else. I have been directing for 30 years and I hardly know what I am doing as far as that is concerned! Each film is a different experience and I still feel a long way from mastering the medium. Hopefully, I will continue to strive to do so! Each film is a whole different world. There are some things you can take to the next film but a lot of things that don’t apply at all. It is something that continues to be a challenge and I hope it will be so for the rest of my life!

Where do you see yourself headed next? Anything in the works at the moment?

John McNaughton

John McNaughton

I have been working for seven years on another project with my friend Bill Murray. If it gets made, it will be our fourth film together! A couple of weeks ago we thought it was a done deal. It was ready to go and we had dates but it didn’t work out. Like I said, we have been working on it for seven years so far and maybe we aren’t as close as we thought! I did sort of think I would be doing that film this year. At this point, I am not sure one way or the other but I would certainly love to! Again, over the course of 30 years I have certainly piled up a backlog of projects. Some of them are scripts that I have written and projects that I have been attached to that other people have written that I love. Early in your career, you think, “Oh, I got this script. OK, sure I’ll do it! Let’s go!” [laughs] Even with the Bill Murray project, like I said, it has been seven years we have been working on it. I was listening to Scorsese speak a few weeks ago. He was talking about different projects he has been working on. He said, “Oh yeah, some of them have taken five years. Sometimes it is 20 years!” [laughs] Sometimes it takes that long! As you go through your career, a pile tends to build and before you know it you have a backlog of projects. Destiny is involved and when it is the right time, hopefully, they get made!

Thank you for time today, John! I wish you continued success and hopefully when it comes to destiny, the odds are in your favor!

Thank you, Jason!

‘The Harvest’ opens at the IFC Center and is available on VOD April 10, 2015.

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Review:  “Off The Boulevard” – A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Entertainment Industry

Review: “Off The Boulevard” – A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Entertainment Industry

The documentary “Off The Boulevard” gives a behind-the-scenes look of the entertainment industry. Seven independent artists share their struggles, failures and accomplishments while dedicating themselves to the pursuit of their artistic dreams.

Musicians Keith Jackson and Nick Nicholson, filmmakers Troy Duffy and Jeff Santo, actors David Della Rocco and Sanel Budimlic, and stand-up comedian Bob Rubin share their journeys while struggling and persevering on the path of independence. The documentary also includes insights from industry stars, including Peter Fonda (“Easy Rider” and “Ulee’s Gold”), Joe Mantegna (“Criminal Minds”), Gilby Clarke (Guns ‘N’ Roses), Sonny Barger (Hell’s Angels), Dan Haggerty (“Grizzly Adams”), and Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam).

Let’s get the nit-picky technical out of the way — which, overall, consisted of a few minor problems. The film was clumsy in parts, especially when the camera lens peered through a car windshield and, in another part, an airplane window. I was trying to listen to the narrator but couldn’t help but notice a bird pooped on the windshield. A few times the camera was out of focus, sometimes it was not centered. There were a couple instances with audio problems but, as Tripper said in “Meatballs,” it just doesn’t matter!

I soon forgot about these technicalities because it’s not about cinemotography, it’s about the meat of the film — the story. It took me a little ways (about 20 minutes or so) to become fully on board but when I did, I was rockin’ and rollin’ and felt a part of the conversation. It’s like meeting someone new — give the person a chance before passing judgement because if they turn out to be cool — or even awesome — it was worth the time.

That’s what happened with “Off The Boulevard.” I kept watching and soon became engrossed with these men, from the well-known Duffy of “Boondock Saints” fame to the lesser known Budimlic of “Jake’s Corner,” who although not mainstream yet has a powerful and moving story to share, a story he shares with modesty (hint hint … nudge nudge … Budimlic and Santo are working on “Made in Bosna.” Google it.).

I love the laid-back aspect of “Off The Boulevard” because these men share personal and difficult aspects of their lives — from Budimlic fleeing the Bosnian/Serbian war and living in a refugee camp for 7 months before coming to the U.S. to Duffy fighting to get paid for the first “Boondock Saints” (which grossed $150 million). I felt like I was sitting in the room while they discussed their hopes, dreams and failures.

I became engrossed. How could I not?

This movie has heart: from Budimlic first learning to act when soldiers frequented his home during the Bosnian/Serbian war to loot, forcing him to act like this was fine so he could stay alive — “We don’t need this anymore! Go right ahead!” — to a peek at Santo’s documentary “This Old Cub” where his father, famed baseball great Ron Santo, silently puts on his prosthetic legs after losing the limbs to diabetes (I did not just tear up, I cried).

This movie has humor: how could it not with in-your-face Bob “The Rube” Rubin, who’s philosophy is if you don’t get my jokes then go f- yourself?

This movie has anger: Duffy fighting tooth-and-nail to get his cult classic “Boondock Saints” filmed only to later fight even harder to get payment for himself, his producers and the principal cast. Duffy also fought — and stills continues to fight — against the stereotypes about his character expressed in the documentary “Overnight,” which left viewers with the image of Duffy as extremely arrogant and prone to explosive outbursts.

Above all, “Off the Boulevard” is about dedication to achieving your dreams, which all these men share, especially Nicholson, a country singer and military veteran who perseveres through bad gigs and managers until, finally, his sweet tunes hit the right ears and his hit-song is played on the radio! Yes, money would be nice. Fame? Of course! But with true artists, it’s about a dream they are drawn to with a mystical urgency. These men don’t sing, write, act or direct simply because they want to, they do it because they have to.

The film is like Dr. Seuss’s “The Places You’ll Go” for adult independent artists, which is ironic because Santo teaches at a film school. Save yourself a class fee and check this movie out for well-knowns and not-so-well-knowns sharing the reality behind the curtain of Hollywood — red carpets, paparazzi, corporate, oh my!

This reality is also conveyed through honest words-of-wisdom delivered by men who have been there, are still there, and know. Jackson (“The Glass Heroes”) sharing, “I don’t want anyone to tell me what’s good or bad, I’m gonna figure that out on my own.” Della Rocco (“The Boondock Saints”) commenting, “There’s only a few of us that can live this life.” Duffy remembering, “Sometimes you (Santo) and I will be sitting there crying into our beers, looking at each other, and then we’ll both start fucking laughing because it’s ridiculous. Kids don’t know how bad this can get.”

If you’re a dreamer — isn’t everyone, more or less? — if you’re an aspiring filmmaker, actor or musician, or if you’re like me and simply enjoy an inside look at the human spirit and seeing celebrities unveiled as everyday human beings, watch this film.

“Every artist must take a risk. With that risk everything becomes uncertain, the destiny you hope for, the destination you move towards, all is uncertain. When you are in these waters of uncertainty, the rules for every artist is to hold tight to one living thing and one living thing only: Your Dream. It’s that life that survives.”

“Off the Boulevard” is directed by Jeff Santo and written by Santo and Christie Collins. For details, check out www.santofilms.com. — Kate Vendetta

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‘Off The Boulevard’ Documentary Takes Viewers On An Inspiring Journey

Troy Duffy (Creator of The Boondock Saints franchise) announced today the pre-sale availability for the launch of a documentary feature film, “Off The Boulevard,”  he executive produced in partnership with Santo Films.

“It’s an interesting and educational behind-the-scenes look at the struggles fellow independent artists go through in pursuit of their dreams,” says Executive Producer Troy Duffy. “It gives us an inside look at the tough lives of some up-and-coming independent artists.  As we watch them fight their way through the industries of music and film, we glean words of wisdom from successful veterans of the entertainment business.”

Off The Boulevard is a story of art and heart and the dedication it takes to achieve your dreams. It is an entertaining and informative documentary feature film about seven artists: two musicians (Nick Nicholson, Keith Jackson), two filmmakers (Troy Duffy, Jeff Santo), two actors (David Della Rocco, Sanel Budimlic), and one comedian (Bob Rubin), whose friendships are created through struggle and perseverance.

The film features industry insights from well-knowns such as: Peter Fonda (Easy Rider)Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses)Sonny Barger (Hell’s Angels)Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams), and Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam).

“Off The Boulevards follows seven artists on different paths but with the same goal- to fulfill their dreams,“ says Jeff Santo, Director.  “This film transcends the world of entertainment and my hope is it will inspire all who strive to pave their own road.”

Ain’t It Cool News claims it’s “Phenomenal in every sense of the word. 4 stars.” Detroit Metro Times writes it’s “Essential viewing for anyone getting ready to go up against a giant.”

Available now for pre-order exclusively at: www.santofilms.com and www.BoondockSaints.com  at an introductory rate of $14.99.    (Autographed copies available for an additional fee.) (Pre-orders at this introductory rate are available through Sept. 7th)  DVD begins shipping Sept. 7th, 2011.

Viewers can look forward to several intriguing bonus clips featuring highlights from the film such as celebrity interviews and Troy Duffy rehearsing with Boondock Saints II cast members.

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Check Out Four New Clips For ‘The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll’

Check Out Four New Clips For ‘The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll’

Looking for something that rocks and has a little bit of soul? Then check four new clips for The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll starring Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Peter Fonda and Taryn Manning; the film will have a limited release on August 5, 2011.

Synopsis: According to rock ‘n’ roll lore, age 27 is a fateful milestone. From Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison to Kurt Cobain, all stars we lost at this very age.

World famous rock star Spyder (Kevin Zegers – Transamerica, Frozen) has achieved fame and fortune with a smash hit debut album. This blinding success however, is built on the Faustian pact that capitalized on the genius of his long lost childhood best friend and band mate, Eric Genson (Jason Ritter – NBC’s The Event, Good Dick). Now Spyder retreats to his small hometown after his sophomore effort flops. Reconnecting with Eric after a seven year estrangement, the two recall their youthful ambitions and reexamine the choices they’ve made. Accompanied by the band’s ambitious, fiery manager (Taryn Manning – ABC’s Hawaii 5-0, Hustle & Flow, 8 Mile), the legendary music impresario August West (Peter Fonda – Easy Rider, 3:10 to Yuma) and a raucous crew of musicians, they set off on a cathartic journey along historic Route 66 that brings them closer to each other, their history and their destiny. Fueled by a stellar rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack that includes songs by Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Iggy & The Stooges, Alice in Chains, Muddy Waters, The Violent Femmes, Howlin’ Wolf, Jane’s Addiction, and many more, The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll fully captures the energy, rebellion, and thrills of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll also stars Lukas Haas, Kelly Lynch, Lauren Holly, Ruby Dee, Billy Dee Williams, Michael K. Williams, James Ransone and Aimee Teegarden.

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Rockin’ New Trailer For ‘The Perfect Age Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’

Rockin’ New Trailer For ‘The Perfect Age Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’

Looking for something that rocks and has a little bit of soul? Then check out the trailer for The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll starring Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Peter Fonda and Taryn Manning; the film will have a limited release on August 5, 2011.

Synopsis: According to rock ‘n’ roll lore, age 27 is a fateful milestone. From Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison to Kurt Cobain, all stars we lost at this very age.

World famous rock star Spyder (Kevin Zegers – Transamerica, Frozen) has achieved fame and fortune with a smash hit debut album. This blinding success however, is built on the Faustian pact that capitalized on the genius of his long lost childhood best friend and band mate, Eric Genson (Jason Ritter – NBC’s The Event, Good Dick). Now Spyder retreats to his small hometown after his sophomore effort flops. Reconnecting with Eric after a seven year estrangement, the two recall their youthful ambitions and reexamine the choices they’ve made. Accompanied by the band’s ambitious, fiery manager (Taryn Manning – ABC’s Hawaii 5-0, Hustle & Flow, 8 Mile), the legendary music impresario August West (Peter Fonda – Easy Rider, 3:10 to Yuma) and a raucous crew of musicians, they set off on a cathartic journey along historic Route 66 that brings them closer to each other, their history and their destiny. Fueled by a stellar rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack that includes songs by Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Iggy & The Stooges, Alice in Chains, Muddy Waters, The Violent Femmes, Howlin’ Wolf, Jane’s Addiction, and many more, The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll fully captures the energy, rebellion, and thrills of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N’ Roll also stars Lukas Haas, Kelly Lynch, Lauren Holly, Ruby Dee, Billy Dee Williams, Michael K. Williams, James Ransone and Aimee Teegarden.

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‘Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day’ Official Poster Unveiled!

‘Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day’ Official Poster Unveiled!

The official one sheet poster for one of the most anticipated sequels ever-made, Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, has been unleashed! Check it at at below and weigh in with your thoughts!

The film is scheduled to hit theaters on Halloween weekend! You can check out the second high-intensity trailer below along with some stills from the film below.

The film is the continuation of writer & director Troy Duffy’s tough, stylized cutting edge saga of fraternal twins, the MacManus brothers (Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery). The two have been in deep hiding in the quiet valleys of Ireland, far removed from their former lives or modern technologies. When word comes that a priest has been killed by sinister forces in the tough underworld of Boston, they return to mount a violent and bloody crusade to bring justice to those who must now suffer the consequences, with a new partner in crime (Clifton Collins of Star Trek) and a sexy FBI operative (Julie Benz of TV’s “Dexter”) hot on their trail!

Sony Pictures has launched a site for the film at www.sonypictures.com/movies/boondocksaints2

In Recent Boondock Saints News…

Timed to coincide with the cinematic release “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” writer/director Troy Duffy is working with 12 Gauge Comics on a comic tie-in project. The original cult hit movie followed brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus, who take it upon themselves to clean up the streets of Boston, ridding their hometown of crime as local vigilantes. The film sequel does not yet have a firm release date, but upon its release, the series will follow.

Readers will see, among other things, the circumstances behind Il Duce’s first kill. “Some very personal things happen to him that’s sort of his impetus to begin killing,” Duffy said. “But then there’s another person involved, and it becomes much more than just ‘one kill for revenge.’”

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Sean Patrick Flanery Talks “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” And More!

Sean Patrick Flanery Talks “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” And More!

feature-sean-patrick-flanery

To many of his fans, Sean Patrick Flanery will always be one half of one of the greatest action duos of all time, The McManus Brothers. It would be his performance alongside Norman Reedus in “Boondock Saints” that would help spawn one of the biggest cult sensations in movie history. Throughout his career, Flanery has proved to be anything but a one-trick pony. This dynamic actor has continued to grow his already impressive resume by immersing himself in the characters and continually testing his limits as an artist.
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Over a decade after the original film debuted, Flanery and Reedus find themselves reprising their iconic roles in a sequel that many people never thought would happen. Alongside director Troy Duffy and an amazing ensemble cast, they are poised to astound audiences around the world by unleashing a new, action-packed chapter in the franchise. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Sean Patrick Flanery
to discuss the new film, his love of the martial arts and all of his upcoming projects.
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spf-1Where did you grow up?
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I grew up in Lake Charles. Louisiana until I was about four years old. Then we moved to a tiny town outside of Houston, Texas. I spent the rest of my time there, all through college and then I moved to Los Angeles.
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What drove you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

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Ultimately, it was because I saw a beautiful girl leaving this building at the university every Monday, so I dropped an English class to sign up for whatever in the hell they were teaching in that building. [laughs] And it happened to be “acting.” I fell in love with it. That is a true story.
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Well don’t hold out on us. What happened with the girl?

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Ummm, I kinda lost interest. She was a function follows form kinda chick. [laughs] She looked good but there wasn’t a whole lot of anything going on. I fell in love with acting and I started writing, because I wanted to write and produce my own stuff. Then I moved out to LA and that is how it all happened.
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Did you have many influences in regards to acting?

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I didn’t have a lot of influences in acting. Starting out, I knew I wanted to do it and I knew that I enjoyed it. I wanted to be a writer. Acting seemed like a lottery. Ya know, moving out to Los Angeles to make a living acting seemed, low percentage, so I moved out there to try and write. Low and behold, I met an agent and she said “Do you want to try a couple of things?” and I said “Oh what the hell! Sure, it will help augment my income.” One thing lead to another and the next thing I knew, I was making a living at it. It’s kinda crazy!
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spf-5One of the biggest projects you have been involved with in the past is “Boondock Saints.” How did you first get involved with that project and director Troy Duffy?

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I first got involved with it through the audition process. I certainly wanted to do it and wanted to be a part of it. I loved the script. You audition for the things that you want and you get offered the things that you don’t really care about. [laughs] That was something that I really cared about so I auditioned. Then I re-auditioned and did a screen test, the whole thing.
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What was it like for you to step back into the role of Connor MacManus 10 years later?

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Ya know, it is ten years later but it is like we never missed a beat. We just continued on like we had just shot the first one a year ago.
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What was the vibe like on the set with the new ensemble cast that was assembled for the film?

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The vibe was pretty much the same as the first film. People are kinda like chameleons on movie sets. If everybody is cool, then they end up being cool. The climate is kinda pre-determined so everyone steps into it with that in mind. Everyone was really nice and we all had a great time. There were no bad apples! [laughs]
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Was there anyone that you were looking forward to working with on the film?

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Billy Connolly, again.
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He seems like quite a character. I imagine having him on set is great time.

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Yeah! Billy is a great guy. He is funny, funny, funny and has great stories. He has lived a lot of life! He is wise, funny and has a great perspective on life.
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I know that there was a buzz about the original script and you all knew that you were working on a very unique film, but did you have any inkling on the cult following that it would go on to spawn?

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No, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen that. It is kinda unheard of with no advertising and the fans fell in love with it and took ownership of it. You can never foresee that but you always hope for something like that! We made a little independent film and people really dug it. It is very flattering!
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spf-6I know a lot of the cast headed out to Comic Con in San Diego to promote the film. You had quite a turn out to say the very least. What was that experience like for you?

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It was like being a rockstar, man! [laughs] It really was! It was like being Mick Jagger for a day! There were so many fans there, we really had no idea.  We thought we would go and present it and there would be some people there that would dig the movie and hopefully be excited about seeing it, but we had no idea that it would be like that! I certainly didn’t!
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I know you don’t want to give to much away but what can you tell us about Boondock Saints II and have you been able to see a cut of the film yet?

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I have seen cuts in various incarnations. I can tell you this — It stays true to the first film in theme and style and everything. Most sequels are bigger, louder and this film is a perfect sequel to the first one. It explains a lot of things, but it is not big bang just for the sake of big bang, ya know what I mean? I think that everybody is really going to like this film. I really do!
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A lot of people thought that this movie would never get made. As a fan, I am excited that it did. Did the cast do anything special to celebrate the achievement?

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We had a barbecue over at Troy’s when we wrapped. Everybody came over and we watched some clips. It was really cool that we did something and ten years later we get to do it again, simply because the fans mandated that we make another one! We all think that is amazing.
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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?

spf-4Probably the biggest misconception about Troy is that he is some kind of weird tyrant, but he is not that way at all. The cat is a good dude, he really is. You can edit anything together. [referring to the documentary “Overnight’ filmed during the making of “Boondock Saints”] When you are directing a scene, there are different vernaculars that different directors use to talk to their actors. Some directors take a soft tone and delicately describe the magnitude of the scene and it’s importance. Other directors might say “Ok, this is what this motherfucker did. You get in there and you FUCKIN’ KILL HIM!!” That is Troy’s vernacular. He’s not yelling at you, ya know what I mean? Everybody is amped up for this scene and he is amped up for you to be amped up. I don’t know, I don’t really get the bad rap at all. Someone might say “Oh, that guy is an egomaniac and he thinks Boondock is going to do…” Well, it kinda did. He did what he said he was gonna do. He made a film that he thought was great and other people agreed with him and thought it was great too. I have never had a problem with Troy. Not ever. Not any one single fuckin’ moment! I have always thought that he was a cool cat and I would work with him on anything. I think he has great composition, he has a great rapport with actors, he understands dialogue, he understands, he understands storytelling — all of the above. I don’t really know what else to say except that he is a solid cat through and through.
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I also wanted to touch on a few of your other projects. What can you tell us about “To Live and Die”?

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“To Live and Die” is an MGM film that I did with Robert Kurtzman. It is a really cool psychological thriller. It is kind of a vengeance tale, I believe that is coming out after the new year.
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Another interesting project you are working on is “Sinner and Saints”… what can you tell us about that?

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Yeah, that is Will Kaufman’s film. You may know him from his other film “The Prodigy.” It’s a very cool, action/fighting movie. I play a small part in that but it was a lot of fun. He makes some really good action movies too.
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spf-2You mentioned your work as a writer and director in the past. What do you have in store for us in regards to that aspect of your career?

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I am trying to get “Sunshine Superman” off the ground. I have set that up a number of times, so now I am trying to set it up again! It is a love story about two ten year old kids. Some people may already be familiar with it. It was an article that I originally wrote for Jane Magazine. It is a true story about a moment in my childhood. A lot of people really plugged into the story so I really hope that we get to make that in the near future.
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What can we look forward to in the immediate future?

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I did a really whacked out, crazy character on “Criminal Minds” that will be coming out at the end of September. I am really looking forward to that because this guy is totally out of his tree! [laughs] I got to work with John Cassar who is a killer director, he is one of the best directors that I have every worked with. He let me go pretty crazy with this role, so I am really looking forward to seeing that. I also have “Citizen Jane” which is a Hallmark movie that I did.
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What can you tell us about “Citizen Jane”?
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Well, it is a true story. They actually did an episode of “48 Hours” about it. It is about this guy who kills a family member to get the money and low and behold, everyone else thinks that someone else did it. Little did they know that the guy living in their own house is the one that did it. It’s kinda creepier.
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I remember hearing about that on the news actually.

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Yeah. It’s the true story of Jane Alexander and Tom O’Donnell. It should be pretty good. The script was great and we had a really good time doing it. I got to work with Meat Loaf Aday and Ally Sheedy. So that was pretty cool.
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Is there a specific role that you haven’t had a chance to take on yet that you would like take on in the future?
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Nothing specifically. I like good material, ya know. If it is written well, chances are that I am going to dig it.
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spf-mmaIn addition to your other work, you are very involved with martial arts. How did you get into that originally?

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It came into my life from watching Bruce Lee movies and stuff when I was around nine. I started studying martial arts around that time. Most recently it has been Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I actually own an academy here in Hollywood. I spend pretty much everyday there training. I’m completely addicted to it, it is a passion of mine and I love it. I am headed their in about 45 minutes! I can’t seem to stay away from the academy. [laughs] I absolutely love it.
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You received your black belt from Shawn Williams. What was that experience like for you?

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Yes, on May 4th of 2008. It is pretty amazing. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a belt belt there is not like any other black belt. It can take 15 years to get a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It was a monumental moment in my life. Especially since it came under Shawn Williams who is widely regarded as one of the most technical instructors on the globe. It was one of the most proud days of my life, it truly was.
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Being involved in the world of martial arts, and do you follow the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships)?
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Oh yeah! Of course!
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Is that an arena that we might see you dabble in?

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No, you will never see me in the UFC. At this stage, the fighting game has grown and those guys really are professional athletes.  They live, eat and breathe fighting. Because of my job, I could never train, do the strength and conditioning, the dieting, the cardio, the grappling, the striking — it’s an all day thing. They are training like Olympic athletes and in this day and age there is no such thing as an Olympic athlete that is also an attorney during the day. [laughs]
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It’s a full-time job.

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Exactly. I can’t compete at that level. But on a daily basis, I entertain doing smaller shows! [laughs] I really do! It is something that I am very passionate about. It is something that I would like to try out just to say that I did it. There was another sanctioning body awhile back in ’02, that I did a different level MMA thing and it was pretty eye-opening. Luckily, it didn’t last long as I went to the guys back and choked him relatively quickly but I was really nervous for that, man! Really nervous! [laughs] It was a tiny little thing down in San Pedro, to do something on the big stage would be very different, but I really enjoy just training and practicing on my own and training with our group of guys and competing in tournaments. But, I am too old for that shit now, too old to climb into a ring with someone that wants to kill me! [laughs]
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spf-7What is the best piece of advice that someone has given you along the way in your career?

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Realistically, I think that a lot of people in the business can be legitimately accused of “Physic Hoarding.” [laughs] Nobody is too ready to divvy out the advice.
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That being said, what is the best piece of advice that you could give someone who would like to get involved in the entertainment industry?

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That getting a job in this industry is a gift and not to forget that your first job you would have actually paid to do, as opposed to getting paid. This is the only industry in the world that I can say this about. You can’t find me a ditch digger that would say “Yeah, that first ditch I dug, I would have done that for free, man!” He wants to get paid for that first ditch that he digs, but in acting, if you go up to anyone that doesn’t have a SAG card and said “Hey, I let you be in this little indie film but you have to pay me five grand.” That motherfucker will find you five grand faster than you would ever believe! [laughs] It is the only occupation like that. People need to not forget that down the line. You can’t forget that we are lucky to get paid for what we do anyway! It is ridiculous when people start showing up at the set angry or mad and storming off to their trailer. It’s like “Wow! You have the best job in the world. Why are you doing that?” You have to think of how lucky we are to be doing this. We get to play make-believe, it’s a gift.
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Is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans before I let you go?

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I really, really hope that they like Boondock Saints II and I would definitely like everybody to check out that episode of Criminal Minds. Give me some feedback on that because it is something that you haven’t seen me do before. I love my job! I love my academy. Check out www.hollywoodbjj.com for all the updates on my academy. Other than that, I am glad that the fans have stuck by Boondock long enough for us to make the sequel. I am really, really excited about it.

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Thanks for you time, Sean and keep us posted on what you are up to!

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I appreciate it. Thank you very much, man!

For all of the latest news on Sean Patrick Flanery, be sure to head over to his official site at www.seanflanery.com.
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Norman Reedus Talks “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” And More!

Norman Reedus Talks “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” And More!

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Norman Reedus first exploded onto the silver screen and our collective conscience in “Boondock Saints.” Directed by Troy Duffy, Reedus played opposite of Sean Patrick Flanery as one of the McManus brothers in a unique film that would go on to become one of the biggest cult sensations in movie history. Over a decade later, the duo find themselves stepping back into those shoes, or in this case peacoats, to bring on one of the most highly anticipated sequels of all-time.

Reedus has been a very busy man in the years since the original “Boondock Saints” film. This seemingly fearless artist has taken roles that have showcased his amazing range and solidified his presence as one of entertainment’s most versatile actors. Reedus drives the point home that he is far from one-dimensional as he is also an accomplished photographer and will soon be taking on the role of director. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Reedus, who makes his home in New York City, to discuss his past, his upcoming projects and the triumphant return of The Boondock Saints.
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Where did you grow up?
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Wow, let’s see. I grew up in a million places. [laughs] I was born in Florida, lived there for a couple of months. Then I lived in Northern California for a bit. Then we moved to Japan, right at the very end of high school. We lived in Kosovo and then London for a bit and then onto Spain. Finally, I made it to Los Angeles. It was there were I got a job at a place called Dr Carl’s Hog Hospital fixing motorcycles. The girl that I had followed to LA left with her ex-boyfriend and got married in Hawaii, so I was kinda stuck there by myself working at the Harley place and went to a party in The Hills and started yelling at a bunch of people and someone asked me to be in a play. The first night of that play, they were hip pocketing me and then I started pulling movies. That is how it all started.
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normanreedus-1When you were starting out, who were some of your influences?

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One of my influences was Willem Dafoe, and I’m not just saying that. Harvey Keitel and Jim Jarmusch were influences as well. One of my favorite movies at the time and it still is one of my favorites is “Midnight Cowboy”. That role, that type of movie, that editing job and it’s cinematography, I really saw that as “art” and something that I could inspire to be part of.
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You have played a variety of diverse roles in your career but you are best known for your role in “Boondock Saints.” How did you first get involved with Troy Duffy and his film?
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I remember the script going around when I was living in LA. I read it and thought it was amazing. I went out and met Troy at a bar and we started talking about the storyline and the part. I really wanted to do it. Back then, there was another film that I was up for that was a Miramax film. They flew me up to New York for a meeting. I met up with Bob Weinstein and he asked me what I thought and if I wanted to do the film. I told him, “I’ll do this one if you give me Boondock Saints!” So I kept talking to Troy and was trying to get the part. I know there was a big casting war going on for it at that time, I think everyone wanted that part! I remember that Mark Walberg was in there, Ewan Mcgregor was there. A lot of people wanted it. Troy had to fight for me to get the part, because I hadn’t really done anything before that. I was very excited to be a part of it.
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What was it like for you to step back into the role of Murphy McManus a decade later?

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Ya know, the first day was a little weird, putting on those peacoats and revisiting that. It was fun though! It was like visiting an old friend and once we were in them, we were right back in. It was like riding a bike, everything just switched back on. The script is better than the first one, the scenes are better, the action is better, everything is better! Bigger and better! It was a blast to jump back in!
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Once again, Troy Duffy assembled quite an ensemble cast for the sequel. Was there anyone that you were really looking forward to working with?

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I was really excited to work with Julie Benz and Clifton Collins Jr., I have known Clifton for years, since way before we did the first film. It was really nice to be working with friends and it was nice to see Sean Patrick Flannery again. It was a blast and a really cool experience.
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You mentioned the buzz about the original script, so I have to ask, did you have any idea that the film would develop into the cult phenomenon that it has?

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normanreedus-2No. I was really green back then. It was one of my first things. I had no idea. I was just happy to be on a movie set! [laughs] I was just taking it all in. I was like “What do I do? How’s this all work!” It was kind of overwhelming going from a motorcycle shop to a movie, instantly!
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Definitely.

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I knew we were doing something cool but I didn’t think it would be as huge as it has become!
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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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That whole thing with “Overnight” and all that shit — if you had enough footage of Santa Claus, you could edit it to make him look like an asshole. I have said this before but in the first film, where we are doing the courtroom scene, instead of yelling “Action!” Troy was slamming his fist on the table yelling “You deliver these people!” That is Troy’s attitude, but Sean and I couldn’t help but be like “Fuck Yeah!” You can’t help it! That is Troy’s personality and he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He truly is one of the nicest guys that I have ever met. He totally works with you, listens to you and is a sweetheart of a guy. Ya know, those two guys who made that film came to him. The deal was that they would film it and do something with the footage afterwards. Then they started asking Troy for money. Troy said “That’s not our deal. I don’t have any money. All of my money is going into this movie.” They got into an argument and said “Fuck You!” Then they went on to take the worst parts of the footage and assemble it in the most dynamic, evil way that they possibly could to make him look like an asshole.
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The truth is that he is the nicest guy on the planet. I think that after the first one, he toned down a little bit and realized that when there is a camera in front of your face that you might need to not say some stuff and to hold back some stuff. That was a whirlwind ride, that first film.
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Yeah, that is very true and why I asked. I think it was a raw deal and it is interesting to hear from people who were there as it all unfolded and clear the air.

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Yeah. You can edit anyone to make them look like a jerk. You really can.
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normanreedus-3Obviously, it is an amazing feat you all have pulled off with making this sequel. It is really exciting to see the studio get behind the film. Are you guys doing anything special to celebrate the return of The Saints?
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I know they have a really big press junket that we are going to do but I don’t know the details just yet. I am leaving to do a film soon, so I am hoping to find out those details before I leave. I think that we will be doing a premiere in Boston. I think they are doing that to give back to the fans.
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You mentioned that you will be starting work on a new film soon. What can you tell us about that?

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It’s a biker movie. It’s about a biker gang. I recently went out to LA and took my motorcycle class so that they can insure me and so forth. Basically, it is a tough Harley film. Which is really cool. I also just finished another film called “Meskada,” which is sort of a suspense, action, drama. That one was really fun to make as well. So, I am jumping back in with that. There is a film that I want to direct that I also want to start working on. Lots of cool stuff going on!
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You mentioned directing and I know you have been behind the camera in the past, so it sounds like we will see you in a directorial setting in the future?

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I have shot some short films and I have a production company called Big Bald Head. If you go to www.bigbaldhead.com or www.normanreedusonline.com, you can order them. They are three very strange short films, which are all completely different. It is something that I really enjoy doing. I directed them, shot and edited them myself. I had done some shows as a photographer and I have done some video installation shows in the past. My friends here in New York are all artists and they do art and shows together and I always liked doing that. So, I just sorta jumped in and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if that is what I want to end up doing for the rest of my life but I certainly want to give it a try, especially since it is something that I am very passionate about.
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Well we definitely look forward to seeing all of you work.

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Thank you.
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You have played such a wide variety of roles in your career. Is there a part or a specific genre that you would like to tackle in the years to come?

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Yeah! I want to do a comedy! I think I am really funny! No one really thinks that I am funny but me, but I think I want to do a comedy. My Mom would love it if I did a movie where I didn’t kill everybody! [laughs] She is always saying “Why don’t you do a nice little romantic comedy with Jennifer Love-Hewitt or somebody?” I tell her “I don’t think they see me as that person.” But, I would love to do a comedy. There is an old one that I love called “Neighbors” with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. I would love to do a dark, dark comedy like that.
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That would be cool.

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Yeah, or a western. That would be cool. I’d like it.
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normanreedus-4A few year’s back you worked with legendary director John Carpenter on the series “Masters of Horror.” I think “Cigarette Burns” was a really great performance. Just curious on what you might have learned for working alongside one of the horror genre’s greats.
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John Carpenter is one of the coolest motherfuckers that I have ever met. He has this laid back, sarcastic attitude that is so infectious that it makes you want to hang out with him all day long. He is really fun in this very dry kind of a way and his mind works visually in this super fascinating way. You are doing something and you are wondering where he is going with it and then you will realize “Holy shit! Here’s going there?” Ya know? It always works. He has done some of my favorite films and he is such a dynamic character. Him and I became friends making that film and we talked quite a few times on the phone afterwards. He is one of those people who I like as a director, as a person and he is a remarkable guy.
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One of the film’s that you recently worked on is ‘Night of the Templar’ which was one of David Carradine’s final performances. Did you get to interact with him during the filming?
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No, not really. I have heard stories about him and the director [Paul Sampson] of that film is an old friend of mine. I did that movie because he asked me to and if you can’t help your friends out with their movies, then what’s the point? Ya know? He told me stories about David Carradine and I remember him calling me after we heard the news and he was like “That was not a suicide. I know that dude and it was not a suicide.” I don’t know how the story ended up but he [Paul Sampson] told me that he was such a great guy. It is a real shame that he is not around. There have been so many deaths lately, it is crazy to me how many people have been dropping.
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Yeah, it has not been a good year for for that type of thing.

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Yeah, it is nuts! Every week there is a new story that someone else has died. Actually, DJ AM lived right around the corner from me. Heath [Ledger] lived right around the corner from me. It is just really weird.
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What is the best piece of advice that someone has given you along the way in your career and what advice do you have for anyone who would like to get involved in the film industry?
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normanreedus-5I think that you really just have to want it and keep going after it. Ya know, it is really weird how people get to where they get. These days, you can have a sex tape and become a huge star. You can date somebody and become a huge star. It’s weird, but if you really like acting and you like that process, you just go act. If you are into it, people can see that you are into it and if you are passionate about it, you will get jobs. If you are an actor in a small town, do theater. Think about doing theater there for a few years and then moving to a bigger town. Pursue it. It is weird because there are actors and then there are celebrities. that line gets crossed all of the time, ya know?
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It gets a little blurrier every day.

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It’s true. You can be on a reality TV show and become an actor, ya know what I mean. Those lines are blurred all the time. I have had some of the nicest things said to me by some of my heroes, like Sean Penn and Gary Oldman, two really cool people, basically stating that there is a difference between this person and that person. “We’re happy you are this person and not that person.” I see that all of the time. I see someone who is really good at what they do and no one knows who there are.  Then I see people who are considered “huge” and they just blow. It’s like if you want to be a photographer, carry a camera around and shoot all of the time. It is kinda the same thing. At the end of the day it is a job like any other job. You go to work, try to put in a good day, you may fight and it effects your whole day, you go home and hope that you did a good job and gear up for tomorrow. It is just like any other job when you strip it down to the bones, ya know.
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You mentioned photography. I know that you did some modeling in the past and you are an accomplished photographer. I was curious about what attracted you to photography?

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Photography is something that I have always done. I just had a big show in Berlin a couple of weeks ago. I have had a few shows there and a few shows here in New York. I was part of a show in LA last week. It is something that I have always enjoyed doing. I like to take really ugly things and make them pretty. That’s my thing. You can do that in acting or in whatever you do, you just kinda find a niche.
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What other projects do you have coming up that we should be on the look out for in the near future?
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Well, “Pandorum” is coming out soon and the film that I mentioned, “Meskada.” There is a script based on a book that I am going to direct which is called “I Was A White Slave In Harlem.” I am excited for that. It is about Margot Howard-Howard who was a transexual living in New York City in the late ’70s, early ’80s, who was kept as a sex slave in sort of an ivory tower by a herion dealer.
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Sounds very interesting.

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Yeah, Like I said, it is based on a book and it is really cool. Like I said before, I have this production company and if anyone wants to check out my short films, they can go to www.bigbaldhead.com or www.normanreedusonline.com and order them. They are pretty interesting and some of my photographs are there as well. I am always doing stuff!
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That’s great. We will help spread the word! I thank you for your time and best of luck with everything you have going on.

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Thanks, man! That’s so cool of you. It was great to meet you and thank you so much.

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