David Della Rocco first exploded onto the silver screen and our collective conscience in “Boondock Saints.” Directed by Troy Duffy, he played opposite of Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus as one on the most unique and memorable sidekicks in film history. While this unique film would open in only a handful of theaters, it would go on to become one of the biggest cult sensations in movie history. Over a decade later, David finds himself reprising the role of “Rocco” to bring one of the most highly anticipated sequels of all-time to the fans. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with this incredible actor to discuss his past, the origins of the character that has captivated fans worldwide, his upcoming projects and the triumphant return of The Boondock Saints.
Let’s get started with some basic questions: Where did you grow up? What got you started on journey in the entertainment industry?
Well, ya know, I grew up in Norwich, Connecticut and then I went to school at the University of Oregon. I got into theater there and then I came out to California, to make a very long story short and I have been doing the acting thing!
Growing up and even today, who were some of your influences as an actor?
I think it is like with anything, when you are at a certain age and you start to act, you really start noticing certain actors, the ones that are really big at the time. For me we had Pacino, DeNiro, Brando and a Gene Hackman thing going on then and those guys are really good and movies like The Godfather. I think that those actors were really cool, it was a whole East Coast thing.
How did you first get involved with Troy Duffy and the original Boondock Saints film?
Well, Troy was writing the script while I was a part-time manager at this bar. He was the doorman and was working on his script. He told me about it and would read me parts of it. He said to me one day that the brothers were going to have a sidekick. I had long hair and a beard at the time because I was doing a play, it was set in 1975 and I played a carpenter. The play was called ‘The Split’. So I had grown my hair long and I had a beard. The look was a little different at the time. So he said “I’m going to have this sidekick for the brothers and I am gonna name him after you. He’s going to have long hair and a beard.” As the thing started progressing, he said “When this thing becomes a movie, I’ll audition you for it.” Ya know what I mean? So we worked on it and he liked the stuff that I did, so I was on-board in that way. Ya know, the reason I say that, is that there is something on the internet that says that we were childhood friends, but really I didn’t know him until he was in California. It was about 12 years ago now.
How much of your role was scripted versus what you brought in improvisationally or with your own personality?
Well, ya know, all the lines that were said were the lines that Troy wrote. I just stuck with the lines and I wasn’t improv-ing with them. What he wrote was just so much fun, ya know what I mean! It was written so well that it just seems like I was improv-ing it.
You really brought that character to life and made it jump off the screen.
Thank you so much. That is very kind of you!
How has your life changed since the first film which has become a cult classic? Do you get recognized a lot?
There is some of that. You mentioned the word “cult” as opposed to something like ‘Inglorious Basterds’ or ‘Titantic’ or ‘Terminator’ or whatever. It does have that cult thing and I think there is a youth to it. There are those college kids that are of a certain age. The way the movie started, it started slow, it was word of mouth when we released it. It pretty much went straight to DVD because of what was going on at the time and by that I mean Columbine. I just remember two years going by and then all of a sudden someone recognized me. Then it started to happen more and more.. It did seem to be like a cult, a certain group of people that were aware of it. So yes, it was an interesting change but it wasn’t that drastic where I had to move to a gated community or needed a bodyguard! [laughs]
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?
Ya know, no I didn’t. When I first saw the movie, I thought “Ok, it’s a movie, it’s going to help me. It’s fun”. I loved all the people, the actors, ya know what I mean. I looked at it and wondered do you have the actors to get it out there and go theatrically? So, when I was doing the film I just said, “I guess it is going to be up to the people.” I thought the film was very interesting and I wanted to see how it did. As I told you, theatrically it didn’t do as well as we wanted it to. We wanted it to be big in theaters and when it didn’t, it kinda was a bit of a letdown. So I thought “Oh, the people don’t like it.” The people from Hollywood looked and it and it went to DVD. I was kinda disappointed, I don’t know. But then! It started taking off and we started doing college tours and seeing how much people really liked it! Then there were all the different websites and t-shirts and all that! Then I started saying “The people must like it!” If a movie or play comes out it is up to the people to decide if they like it and I really feel good about this.
The people have certainly spoken in regards to Boondock Saints!
Yeah! That’s what I mean! It i so nice to get that! Even the nice thing that you said about me, that is really great and I am glad that the film did do well, in whatever way it did it.
I know you don’t want to give to much away but what can you tell us about your role in ‘Boondock Saints II’?
Well, you can figure out, Troy’s not insane, I’m dead! So it is either going to be a dream sequence or a flashback. It is more of a dream sequence. I have a scene where there is kind of like a dream sequence. It was a lot of fun. We were going to do it at a location that we couldn’t get and because we couldn’t get that location, we had to change all of our lines. So we did it at three different spots, a dream sequence, where we shoot from one place to another place to another place. Each time we did it, we wrote our own lines at the spot. We’d improvise it but we got the lines together for all four actors by saying “We’ll do this that and the other thing.” That was kind of fun! But I am not in the film for 90 minutes, it is basically a dream sequence were the boys are going through something and I pop up in a dream and we go on from there. Kinda get the gist of that?
Yeah, I definitely do. Us fans will take ya anyway we can get you back!
[laughs] Yeah! Thank you! But yeah, I’m still dead.
Troy put together quite an ensemble cast for the film with the likes of Clifton Collins Jr. and Julie Benz, for example. Who did you look forward to meeting for the first time or working with again?
It is funny, let’s go back to the first film. I remember Dafoe is going to be in it and I am thinking “Woah! I am going to get to work with Dafoe!” but I didn’t really get to interact with him because we were in only once scene together but he was there. Even Billy Connolly, I didn’t get to work with him in the first film. It was basically me and the brothers. So this time around I didn’t get to work with Clifton or Julie, but I would have loved to. It was just me, Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery and Troy Duffy. But just being there and being around all of the old actors like Brian Mahoney, Bob Marley, Norm and Sean was great. But these new people, like Cliff and Julie were amazing. It was just great being on set and getting a chance to talk to them. Cliff is such a great actor and a great person. I didn’t get a chance to work with Cliff, Julie, Billy but I would have liked to. On set, they were all really great to have around. Troy really does pick people that really get along with each other.
Have you been able to see a cut of the film yet?
You know, I have seen a couple cuts of it. I saw a very long version, a version where it was cut down a bit and then I saw the final cut. I was really impressed. I liked it so much better then the other two. I really, really enjoyed it. I liked it a lot! This guy Clifton Collins Jr. is great. I think Julie Benz is a lot of fun in it. The detectives are good. I really like it!
I 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?
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. It is kinda funny because Sony took us down there. On the panel was Sean, Norm, Cliff, Julie and Troy. So they get through talking and all that and they have a question and answer period. There is a line of about eight to ten people asking questions. So I sneak up there and I go to the mic and say “Hey Troy! What the fuck! Is Rocco going to be in the sequel!” and then everybody saw it was me and I got a big applause, it was nice!
That Comic Con thing is a lot of fun. Those are crazy people down there!
Yeah, I hear that it is quite a bit to take in.
Ya know what is great about it is San Diego. Next year I am not sure if I even want to go to Comic Con, I just wanna go stay in San Diego! The streets were just mobbed every night with beautiful women and nice people. It was like 126,000 people coming into San Diego, which isn’t that big of a city. The downtown area was really a lot of fun!
It is really cool to see the fans and Sony getting behind the film. Hopefully it is better for everyone involved. It seems like they have been fun projects to work on.
Yeah. Ya know what’s funny? Even if he did it be accident, I think Troy brought so much relaxation and confidence to the film, that it was easy to pull off the tongue in cheek aspects. It made it easy for a lot of things. Remember the one scene where we are all in that room and they are beating the hell out of us and then they decide that I am just a nobody and “just shoot him…the brothers did it”?
It’s funny because that day, the vibe was so down. I don’t know what it was but that day was really hard. Maybe because Troy was in another room. I think that’s why the chemistry came off so well on screen and why the ensemble was good because Troy had a way of making it really relaxed on set. I think it was the confidence that he had and the fact that he really loved what he was doing brought it all together. I felt no pressure, nothing. Never at all did I feel pressure for time or anything. It was always a very, very relaxed atmosphere and that’s a tough thing to get a lot of times, ya know.
What can you tell us about ‘Jake’s Corner’?
Well, that is coming out in March on DVD. It’s not making it to the theaters. I did that with Richard Tyson, Danny Trejo and Diane Ladd. It’s about this kid, a very “G” movie. I play a truck driver who got stranded in this out of the way place in Arizona and decides to just become a cook there and stay there in my truck. The lead is Richard Tyson and I believe that is coming out in March.
What other projects do you have on the horizon?
I’ve got this other thing going, ‘Made In Bosnia’. I am going to play a college professor and that is still in the works. I’m talking to the director and the writer and the financing is starting for it. Hopefully that one will be made! But we have a lot of work to do. Hopefully with this film, it will open the door to some other things… like you deciding to be a director and put me in your film!
I’d love to do that! And you are on the top of my list!
Is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans before I let you go?
The fans are so fantastic and I love everyone of them! I hope that they become big fans of the new movie and that everything works out!
Thanks for your time, David!