Mario’s Movies: 4 Worthwhile Behind-the-Scenes Facts About ‘The Boondock Saints’

By Mario Ricciardi

Happy St. Patrick’s Day month everybody! Like most of you, I am not the least bit Irish. In fact, I am 100 percent Italian (no I don’t need 23andMe to fact check that), and the only green I own has Green Lantern symbols on it.

When it comes to authentically celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, my situation only gives me two real options. Eat a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal while listening to Gordon Lightfoot, or watch “The Boondock Saints.” Since we shop exclusively at Aldi’s and the closest they stock to Lucky Charms is Toasted Marshmallows, I, by default, have to participate in viewing “The Boondock Saints.”

Fed up with crime overruling the streets of Boston, Irish Catholic brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus receive a vision from beyond calling them to take up arms. In their own style of vigilante justice, the pair aggressively takes on the Russian mafia. As the brothers seek out bigger and bigger targets, they are put on the radar of the eccentric yet cunning FBI Agent, Paul Smecker, played by the brilliant Willem Dafoe.

Say what you will about “The Boondock Saints.” It’s got a low-ish budget, doesn’t always make complete sense and has no real place in today’s culturally aware society. That said, it’s also a fairly entertaining cult film, like a B-movie-Tarantino-knockoff featuring the likes of, again, a brilliant Willem Dafoe.

The film undeniably celebrates being Irish in its own irrelevant way and it has sneakingly become a tradition to be watched in honor of St. Patrick’s Day festivities. That said, the making of the film was so terribly interesting that, it can overshadow the actual film.

So out of appreciation for March’s best holiday, here is an awkward amount of facts (four) about the awkward making of “The Boondock Saints.”

  1. Harvey Weinstein Bought Writer/Director Troy Duffy a Bar for the Rights: Duffy only wanted to work with producers who went above and beyond. In order to buy the rights to the script, Weinstein not only promised the writer/director at least $300,000 for the script, the right to direct the film and a $15 million production budget, he also purchased the bar Duffy worked at and gifted it to him.
  2. Duffy Lost Ewan McGregor’s Involvement over a Bar Fight: The director flew to New York City to meet with McGregor to offer him a lead role. Duffy allegedly ended up getting into a drunken argument about the death penalty with McGregor causing the actor to pass on getting involved.
  3. Blockbuster Video Saved the Movie: Due to the amount of violence in the film it received a release in only five theaters for only one week. Blockbuster Video then purchased the exclusive rights to rent out the film based on its famously troubled production. Word of mouth from within the rental circuit is what lead to the film’s popular cult status.
  4. The Writer/Director’s Ego Was His Own Worst Enemy: Duffy, who had never made a movie before “The Boondock Saints,” not only ruined opportunities to work with Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves and Ethan Hawke, he also caused Weinstein to back out of their production deal. Additionally, Duffy’s ego lead to his band, who was set to score the picture, breaking up in the middle of production. The film ended up going to a different company for a $6 million budget and Duffy lost all the rights to his film.