In another era, Western films were the blockbusters of their day; in 2019, they're much harder to come by. Nevertheless, the genre has seen something of a low-key resurgence over the last few years. Between movies like The Magnificent Seven and The Hateful Eight, video games like Red Dead Redemption 2, and TV shows like Hell on Wheels and The Son, this aesthetic will forever be ripe for storytelling potential.
So far, 2019 has seen two high-profile Western movies: The Kid, directed by Vincent D'Onofrio, and The Outsider, starring Sean Patrick Flanery as a mysterious tracker who finds himself leading a posse of corrupt deputies pursing a bounty (Jon Foo) , but not all is as it seems in a small town led by a corrupt sheriff (Trace Adkins). A morose tale of revenge, redemption, and misplaced faith, The Outsider provokes and excites with a mix of uncomfortable violence, intimate character dynamics, and pulse-pounding momentum.
While promoting The Outsider, Sean Patrick Flanery spoke to Screen Rant about his love of the Western genre and his career in Hollywood. He discusses whether or not he is interested in playing Indiana Jones after Harrison Ford retires from the character, and the current status of The Boondock Saints 3, as well as a bit of insight into his friendship with co-star Norman Reedus... But not too much insight, for it would be too scandalous to reveal.
Let's talk about The Outsider. What is it about Westerns that makes actors so excited? I feel like every actor I talk to wants to be in a Western, or just generally loves the genre. Why do you think that is?
Because you remove every utensil from the character. The only thing left is, maybe, a six-shooter on his hip. That's it. There's no cell phone, there's no car. There's nothing you can dress the set with that will tell the audience anything about that human being, that character, except what you do on camera. I f****** love that. It was a time where life was a walking meritocracy. You had to stand up for yourself; if not, you would die. You had to get your own food; if not, you'd starve. You had to sow your own crops. You had to raise your own kids. Everything you bring to the screen is pretty much from the character. I could dress a 2019 set in a myriad of ways, and from one still image, could tell you a thousand pages about that person. The clothes, the props, what's in his briefcase. In a Western, that doesn't happen. The further back you go, it becomes about what's in that individual.
So everything comes from the character, not their things. That sounds challenging, but rewarding.
I love that s***!
Did you have any say over your wardrobe? I love movie costumes, especially in Westerns, and you look really cool in The Outsider. Striking, dashing, rugged!
I appreciate it! Oddly enough... Nine times out of ten, you try on fifty-seven things, and in any other film, usually, you struggle to get there. My outfit in The Outsider, that was off the rack. It was what they imagined for the character. They spoke to me on the phone, asked for my sizes, and when I showed up, that's exactly what they had picked. I thought, "holy s***, I love you, I want to work with you for the rest of my life." (Laughs) That's a true story!
You have a scene in this movie with another one of my favorite actors, Danny Trejo. He only has a small role in the film, but he definitely leaves an impression and acts as something of a catalyst for your character. Can you talk a bit about working with him?
He's a regular dude. I think that comes from... He comes from a time before all the paparazzi and everything else... You'd be hard-pressed to find a more well-liked actor in the industry that Danny Trejo. The dude has worked with the greatest of the great, and when you work with somebody like that, you expect them to be a diva, but it wasn't like that at all. Danny was just a regular dude. He came with a wealth and history of film information and experience, and working with a guy like that was a highlight of my career. I adore him.
You also have great chemistry with Jon Foo. He's the driving force, and you're the person who is moved by his quest, it's a really great story. But I've Jon in movies and TV here and there, but I thought you two were pretty amazing together.
You got to see the film?
Yeah, I watched it last night!
What did you think?
I really liked it! I'm always a little skeptical when I movie comes up that I'm not aware of, because I'd like to think I keep my ear to the ground, but with the VOD and Digital market, not to mention Netflix and streaming, there's just so much content out there... But this is absolutely a cut above the rest. I was super impressed by the production design, a lot of the action, and the acting. It's so tight and fast, since it's only 90 minutes, but they really let the movie breathe and let you soak in these characters in a way you don't get from big-budget action movies anymore. It tells its story all the way through, completely sincerely.
I agree, man. I've made a career out of doing a bunch of films nobody sees, so when a lot of things come together like this, I was really pleased with what I saw. That put a smile on my face, I'm really glad you liked it.
That brings to mind one of my question, I want to ask you: is there a role you've done, a TV show, a movie, anything, that you're exceptionally proud of, but you feel has not gotten the love and appreciation it deserves. Would you like to shout out something that you've done?
Oh yeah, there's a handful of films like that... The majority of my career are films I've done that nobody sees. What people know me for is literally the tip of the iceberg. Me and a lot of my acting friends. It's like, what you're known for is one of the twenty films you've done. But one film I've done is called Into the Fire. I love that film. Tangerine Dream did the soundtrack for that film. I thought it was a piece of 90-minute poetry, and nobody saw it. It was seen by a grand total of twelve people, nine of whom were my mom. (Laughs) But that's the film industry.
Yeah. It is a shame, there are so many movies, even with big name actors like you, but it's just so hard to get an audience's attention.
There are a thousand variables that come into a film reaching the light of day, or how it reaches the light of day. Discoverability is a scary conundrum. It's something where you've got to find a way, with social media and all these other avenues... Traditional marketing is a multi-million dollar feat. Some movies just get lost in the shuffle. Into the Fire, I wish more people had seen it.
I almost feel guilty now, since I'm going to ask you about your two most famous roles.
No, feel free!
I'm 28, and most people my age know you immediately from Young Indiana Jones. There have been some headlines lately when Harrison Ford said that when he's done, they're never gonna recast Indy. And we're all sitting there going, "They already did!" Now that you've aged up, we're ready for you to do it! I mean, I know Hollywood doesn't work that way, but would you ever, in a million years, consider putting the hat back on, so to speak?
First of all, nobody, not even Tom Cruise, I think, would turn down playing Indiana Jones! If he's an "A," then I'm probably a "Q" level actor. That's just, not to disparage your question, but nobody would turn that down. That's the pinnacle, to play an iconic character. It was wonderfully articulated by someone who is probably the last iconic movie star. What I mean by that is, Harrison is kind of like Montgomery Clift. I mean, we have a lot of celebrity, high-profile actors, and I certainly mean nothing against Brad Pitt, because he's a huge star, and Tom Cruise, but as for iconic actors... I think Harrison Ford is the last of them. They weren't in the news every day. They just kind of showed up, did something groundbreaking, and then f***** off back to Montana! I don't know anybody in their right mind who would turn down Indiana Jones. That's just pure lunacy. That's why we get into the business, so that maybe one day we could play someone one-tenth as powerful as Indiana Jones.
While you were doing Young Indiana Jones, did you get to meet Harrison?
I didn't! I wish I had. He did the bookeneds in the Chicago episode, but we never crossed paths. I wish I could have shaken his hand back in the day, purely from a fanboy standpoint, you know?
Yeah. I mean, me and all my friends, we would say, "we watched six movies growing up, and they all starred Harrison Ford."
I would be remiss if I didn't ask, because we've been waiting to see wht the heck is up with this movie, but Boondock Saints 3. The last time I heard about it, you and Norman just kinda washed your hands of it and were like, "Nah, we're done," but you did not elaborate. Is that accurate, is it still true? What's the story there?
You know, Boondock Saints had such a long story behind the scenes. There's a lot of history. If people want to dig deep, they can find about a lot of the crazy stuff that went down with that. On the first one... You do a film like that, and you're incredibly proud of it, but neither Norman nor I have seen a dime of residuals from it. It's a crazy way that you can structure things, and the person who put that into play is no longer in the picture. On the business end, there was a lot of negative stuff that came our way, and it just wasn't handled correctly on the business side. For that reason, it kind of tainted some things. But, like I said, that person is no longer in the picture, and wasn't in the picture for part two. But there's a twisting, winding story with that.
I can imagine. That movie certainly has a legendary status in that regard.
You said you had known Norman beforehand. When did you meet him?
Man, I met that cat in 1995, 1996, something like that... But that's a story for another time. I can't give you too much. (laughs)
I assume he was wearing a punk rock t-shirt and leather boots.
I would have to kill you if I told you.
The Outsider is available now on Digital and On Demand.