Acting and Acting Styles – The Boondock Saints

The Boondock Saints was written and directed by Troy Duffy and released in 1999. It stars Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flannery, and Willem Dafoe. These three actors can all be classified as a specific type of actor; Norman and Sean are character actors and Willem a personality actor.
Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery are character actors because they are both able to easily adapt to various different character roles and make them all completely believable (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014). In The Boondock Saints, Norman and Sean play a pair of Irish Catholic brothers determined to fight fire with fire – they use violence and murder to take down notorious mafia figures in their community who are making life hell for the rest of the citizens (Duffy, 1999). I was lucky enough to meet the two of them and be able to sit down with them for a couple hours and discuss this film, and they are nothing like their characters in reality! However, their roles are executed with precision, bringing the film to life with their performances. Other major roles they are known for also showcase the same level of spot-on characters; Norman as the crossbow-wielding tracking expert from the wrong side of the tracks in The Walking Dead, and Sean as an albino child with supernatural powers in Powder. Here are a couple scenes from The Boondock Saints that shows their prowess as character actors; perfectly portraying a brotherly relationship and their own character quirks:

Willem Dafoe plays an opera-loving detective in this film who has a talent for recreating a detailed crime scene in his mind. His character is far from perfect though, he has many demons just under his surface and he continually struggles with inner battles of self. Willem’s unique personality shines through in his performances, and he is frequently cast as either a villain or a character who is dark and unstable. This scene shows a great example of Dafoe’s unique personality in the film:

Based on Willem Dafoe’s other films, I believe he would always be categorized as either a personality actor or a wildcard actor. He is able to play a large number of different characters convincingly, but there always seems to dark undertone to these characters. In the Spiderman series he played the villainous and possibly insane Green Goblin, and bits of his signature personality shine through:

DrChelseaPED [Screen name]. (2009, May 5). Mirror Scene. Retrieved from

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From Watching to Seeing (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgeport Education, Inc.

mw2merc [Screen name]. (2007, November 6). Boondock Saints – Bar Fight EXTENDED. Retrieved from

rgaffney22 [Screen name]. (2007, June 30). Boondock Saints- Diversity of the Word. Retrieved from

Vitor Neves [Screen name]. (2010, December 21). The Boondock Saint’s – Fire Fight – EXTENDED clip. Retrieved from


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