— by SEAN GERSKI —
If you have watched a movie in the past year, there is a great chance Clifton Collins Jr. was in it.
In 2009 alone, he appeared in “Sunshine Cleaning,” “The Perfect Game,” “Crank: High Voltage,” “Star Trek,” “Brothers,” “Extract” and “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.”
Collins was promoting the last of those movies when I had the chance to get him on the phone for a few minutes.
In “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” Collins plays the third wheel to the main two characters (played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus). Collins has a fight scene as his introduction in the film, where his hands are tied behind his back and he can’t hit the other guy. He just has to not-get-hit for five minutes, while everyone else makes bets.
“That was a fun moment and a great introduction to the character,” Collins said. “It’s great to enter the movie as a badass.”
Collins said the movie is full of “great action scenes.”
“There are some spectacular moments in this movie,” he said. “It’s a kick ass ride. I’m the first to tell you the truth of a movie. But ‘Boondock Saints’ fans will be very happy with the movie.”
The actor, who wasn’t in the first movie, is the “comic relief” in the movie. His character — Romeo — is the replacement for Rocco from the first film, but the characters are very different.
Collins said he brings a lot to the sequel.
“I bring all of the Latino community,” he said, while laughing. “I add a comedic character. It’s rare you can add new characters and have them so well received.”
According to Collins, the character he plays is “a hustler. But Romeo’s journey is that of the audience watching the movie.”
Collins said the role was written specifically for him.
“I wanted to meet that crazy MF’er Troy Duffy and we’ve been friends ever since,” he said. “And now, it’s great to be just hanging out with my friends and finally getting to be one of the Saints. Working with your friends is always great.”
Working with Flanery and Reedus on “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” was a enjoyable, Collins said.
“I’ve gotten to know and love Norman and Sean for years,” he said. “To work with them on the sequel was a special time.”
And working with Duffy is a great assignment too, Collins added.
“Troy has a brilliant mind. It’s just fun being around him,” he said. “Troy’s gung ho. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of top directors. You learn stuff.”
Collins said he has taken what he has learned and applied it in his own work as a director.
“I’ve directed six videos,” he said. “Directing is a natural for me. I love storytelling.”
In the future, Collins said, he hopes to taken on as many different kinds of acting and directing jobs as possible.
“Variety is the spice of life,” he said. “The roles I haven’t done yet are the ones I most want to do. I like to keep mixing it up.”
However, Collins added, he could see a third “Boondock Saints” movie as a real possibility.
“Troy’s not a one-trick pony, but the demand for a third installment will be so great they can’t deny it,” he said.
As a bonus, It’s Just Movies writer Jason Eaken was at a press junket for “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” where he sat in on a roundtable interview.
Here are the questions and answers:
How have you managed with your busy schedule? You’re in, like, six movies this year.
Clifton Collins Jr.: I don’t know. I feel like my very existence is to be a creative being. I seem to, every time I shoot a movie on location, I somehow get my camera shipped out to me and end up shooting a music video. Which is how the new Jamie Johnson video, “The High Cost of Living,” came about. While shooting “The Experiment” in Iowa, my D.P. was like, “You want your camera?” and I was like, “No, I’m freaking making a movie with Forest (Whitaker) and Adrien Brody.” “Yeah, but you probably want your camera.” “No, I’m working!” And after, I was like, “Hey send me my camera!” Like, literally a week and a half later, and I started shooting the thing and I found out Jamie was coming to town. It all came together in a very strange fashion … I don’t really know, I’m like, already conspiring, I’m like getting some of my screenplays polished next week so I can start shooting them.
Some roles you’ve had have required humor, but this one is like full-on comedy. How did you feel doing it? I mean you’re a funny guy, but it’s not “Capote.”
CC: Nah, although “Capote” is hilarious! This one’s very different. I think we were talking about this earlier. This character’s really close to me, and Troy’s ideas in writing Romeo just came from our banter. You know, so I’m just like “Dude, you can’t put that in there!” You know, like some stuff, it’s like “Ah, come on!” Or he’d put some sh*t in that I just know the history of some of those jokes and I know why they fit or why they wouldn’t fit … Troy’s a funny dude, when we hang out … you laugh and drink a lot. (Laughs.)
Clifton, you’re obviously familiar with the fan-base of “The Boondock Saints” from the first movie, being friends with all of them. How do you feel stepping into that situation?
CC: I think it’s a beautiful thing. You know, I think it’s even more special, that we’re able to do a sequel that, and this is just my perception, it’s going to meet their expectations. So it’s great to be able to do a sequel and do it better than the first one or at least have it be on par. It’s in my personal opinion, it’s better than the first one. Troy’s had time to evolve and grow and do all these things, and also sit on the script for a while. I mean, there’s a lot of obstacles in getting this piece made, so that said, he was able to go back and rework some stuff.
And you’re obviously familiar with a large fan-base, because of “Star Trek.”
CC: Sure, but also I think I was able to have a little bit of a, kind of like a pass-card. With all the make-up and stuff. Unless you’re really hip to my face and name and the sound of my voice. You know, I’ve had people call me out, you know, like the elevator doors are closing. But you’ve got to have that eye. I mean, I hide as it is, in every character I do, so.
Yeah, you’re kind of a chameleon. Why did you choose that career path? Why does that appeal to you?
CC: You know, I think I always just grew up pretending to be different people. You know, it’s just fun! Watching the movies that my grampa was always in and imitating different characters, whether it was Walter Brennan or Dean Martin or John Wayne. It was just something I always enjoyed doing. It was more fun than just being me. And this character is probably the closest to me that’s probably out there right now.
You probably don’t cry that much.
CC (joking): I do! I cried just before I came in here.
Were those your guns (in the movie)?
CC: No… Canada won’t let me in. I can get into Mexico pretty easy, but Canada – they don’t like me so much.
You were a part of a lot of the comedy in the film, you’re pretty-much off the wall. Did you have a hand in the texture of those scenes, or were they exactly as written on the page?
CC: Troy’s really clear on his vision and what he sees and what he wants and unique to Troy as a relatively young film director, This is just his second film. To have such a clear vision is so so rare, and to know how you’re going to get there is even rarer. So, I think I had a part to play in that I’ve known about this piece for a long time so I was able to go back in there and say, “This joke’s not funny” or “This thing, you want me to fix this?” And also, so much of it’s based on me, so I was able to remind him, “How about that time we got f*cked up over at the house?” or “You remember when this happened? That was way funnier than this line you’ve got here about Cindy Crawford’s mole on her lip.” And if you’ll notice, that line’s not in the film. (Laughs)