YRB October 2011 Photoshoot & Interview
PROFILE: Norman Reedus by DAVID DIEHL Photography by Jason Goodrich
Styling by Joseph Episcopo Grooming by Kristan Serafino for Kiss Silicone Protexion Flat Iron
Norman Reedus is keeping his burgeoning acting career very much alive with his newest role on Walking Dead while moonlighting as Lady Gaga’s Judas.
Many actors devote their career to obtaining awards and stars on the walk of fame. Norman Reedus doesn’t care to walk down that road. His journey hasn’t snagged him any statues yet, but he does have action figures. Comic book characters were created due to personas he has played. Thousands of people have tattooed his portrait on their body. Reedus doesn’t live the life of an A-list Hollywood hunk, but he’s provided committed cult and comic fan bases with gritty crusaders that are true to the cause. He became an icon in his role as Murphy McManus in The Boondock Saints franchise, taking down the bad guys with his fraternal twin brother and the grace of the Lord. And after appearing as the leading male in Lady Gaga’s “Judas” video earlier this year, he’s now preparing to save us from zombies in the much-anticipated second season of The Walking Dead.
YRB: How did you get interested in becoming an actor?
Norman: I followed a girl to Los Angeles, and she ended up hooking up with her ex-boyfriend and then moving to Australia. So I ended up with a job fixing motorcycles for art shows. One day, I left that job and was at a party and got really drunk and was asked to be in a play. Afterwards, I kept in contact and actually did the play. A few people saw me the first couple nights and started to approach me about possibly targeting movies.
YRB: What would you consider your biggest breakthrough in the industry?
Norman: My biggest breakthrough was Boondock Saints. I mean, a lot of people wanted to be in that film. And Troy [Duffy] wanted relatively unknown people. It was 1999, and Troy was screen testing out of his own pocket. Through those screen tests he sold the film to Harvey Weinstein. He even had Harvey buy the bar that he was the bouncer at to solidify the deal. You know, Troy was really great, and this movie really became the biggest break for me. Sean [Patrick Flanery] and I had our screen test at the bar and Troy really liked our chemistry as the brothers. And this is at a time when Miramax wanted Stephen Dorff and Jon Bon Jovi to be the brothers. Crazy, right? But they fought for us; that’s how we did it. With the whole screen testing process at the bar, they believed in us.
YRB: When you were shooting the film, did you ever think it would become such a cult phenomenon?
Norman: No, man, I had no idea. You know, Columbine had recently happened and people were reluctant to touch a film with such righteous violence. Everyone who participated on the film was just like, ‘Oh, well that was fun,’ and that was that. But once it got going, it just kept growing and growing. It became a people’s movie. It’s crazy – I see tattoos on people of Sean and I as the brothers every day.
YRB: What does that feel like, to have a character you portrayed immortalized on someone’s skin?
Norman: You know, I’ve probably seen a thousand of them. I keep seeing them and I always say, “I hope you were drunk when you did this,” and they always say back, ‘Yes, I was!’ But it is pretty cool. The other day my son and I were in California, and we were walking on Venice Beach and we came across a guy in a hoodie. My son flipped out on the guy, ‘Why do you have my daddy on your shirt?’ Like the guy had stolen my soul or something. It’s funny. But, you know, it feels good and it’s cool.
YRB: It took 10 years to release the Boondock Saints sequel. Why the large gap?
Norman: Yeah, well there was a lawsuit [stating] the producers of [the first] basically stole all the money from all of the development. So one producer had to sue another producer in order to get settlement. It took a long time for every issue to get resolved. They had basically stolen all of the money. We really hadn’t planned on having a 10-year gap. We were just sitting around waiting for the clock to strike 12, and at about 12:05 they signed the papers for Boondock Saints II. Part two was really light on the brothers. Troy really made the sequel for the fans. He really wanted to put everything in the ring for the fans, so the movie itself became a bit less about Sean and me. But it followed Troy’s vision.
YRB: Has there been any talks about continuing the Boondock Saints franchise?
Norman: Yeah, I think we’ll definitely do a third installment. I think everybody’s open to it, as are the fans. Last I heard, Troy was writing a part three.
YRB: There has been some controversy surrounding Troy Duffy due to a documentary called Overnight, what was it like working under his direction?
Norman: He’s great and he knows exactly what he wants. He’s exciting to work for. In part one, he would slam his hand on the table and shout, ‘You deliver these people,’ and then yell action. It would have us all pretty pumped up. He’s a nice guy and absolutely nothing at all like that documentary. Overnight was deliberately edited to make him look like an asshole. If you ever come across it, don’t watch it. It was supposed to be a positive project, but then there were some disagreements and they totally cut the film to make Troy look like the worst possible douchebag ever. And it’s all lies, all of it.
YRB: You’re most recent success is your role on AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead. How did you come on to this project?
Norman: Well, I went to L.A. for pilot season – it’s where every show is pitched and casted off real quick – and it’s this big clusterfuck of actors and scripts. I was familiar with The Walking Dead, and knew that this was the only [part] to get. There are so many cop shows and doctor shows and lawyer shows, this was a truly original opportunity and I wanted to be a part of it. I had read for a different part and my current character, Daryl Dixon, wasn’t even an idea at that point. So the character was written a little bit for me, and it ended up as a fan favorite. I’ve just kept running with it. He’s a very colorful character and I’ve had a lot of freedom with him. I always wanted him to be more than just a guy that gives nasty looks to zombies. It’s a blast.
YRB: The second season begins this fall, what storylines can we expect for the upcoming season?
Norman: I think Daryl’s starting to fit more into the group. He’s liking them and showing more respect to the people that he’s with. If you have to spend a lot of time with people in a survival situation, you start to learn more about them. This season is so intense and has such great story points for all of the characters. I think it’s just going to blow shit out of the water.
YRB: Speaking of cast members, what’s it like being on set with all of those zombies?
Norman: Yeah, it’s weird to see a zombie walking by eating a doughnut with a coffee in his other hand. I feel bad for them sometimes, they’re so excited and so into it, but they’re buried under all that latex and lying on hot pavement in the Georgia sun. You know, when you’re doing a fight scene, you’re scared that one of the actors is going to clunk over from heat and exhaustion. It’s a lot of work keeping our zombies healthy and sane. It’s especially troubling when there are children zombies around, you’re just kind of like, “Hey, what’s up?” Some zombies will come up during break, smoking a cigarette and ask for a photograph, and I’m just like, “Whoa you look nuts right now.”
YRB: Does the main core of lead actors fear when their day may come and they, too, will become zombies?
Norman: It’s a running joke on set because there’s a zombie school. They make people into zombies and handpick zombies and teach them how to walk like a zombie. There’s a whole school on it. So if you get the email [saying], check out www.zombieschool.com, then you’re fucked. Yeah, of course, we’re all worried – any of us can die at any time. We all just want to do a good job in representing our character, and we know when it’s our time, it’s our time.
YRB: Well, hopefully Daryl’s toughness will help you avoid that dreaded email…
Norman: I hope so too. The Daryl character wasn’t in the original comic books, but I heard a rumor the writer was going to add him in. So that’s good news. Plus, I just saw my action figure that’s coming out with my removable squirrels that go around my waste. Yeah, I have a Boondock Saints action figure, but it doesn’t really do anything. You can just pop the head off and put “sunglasses head” on. The action figure for The Walking Dead is awesome. It looks exactly like me – plus it has the squirrels.
I have added 1 photo from the YRB shoot you can view in the gallery, click the link below or the picture up top.
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