Bob Marley fits in the real funny guy theory

Date: 10/5/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Bob Marley leads two lives. After touring comedy clubs for years, recording CDs and DVDs and making dozens of appearances on televisions shows, he has built a huge fan base for his comedy.

Marley, though, has other fans - people who know him from his supporting role in the cult classic movie "Boondock Saints" as the hapless Boston detective who is plagued by an FBI agent played by Willem Dafoe.

Now Western Massachusetts Marley fans will get a double scoop of the versatile performer this month. He will be appearing at the Hu Ke Lau on Oct. 16 and will be seen in "Boondock Saints: All Saints Day," the new sequel to the film, when it opens at the end of the month.

The Maine native spoke to Reminder Publications from his tour and said he was "really excited" about the release of the new film.

Marley started performing while in college in Maine. He then spent two years in Boston and then 11 years in Los Angeles. He moved back to his native Maine four years ago. He and his wife wanted their three children raised in their home state.

While his Maine accent emerges as he speaks faster during his act - confounding many non-New England audiences a bit - his humor is not based on region as much as it is a "fish out of water."

He observed to audiences in Los Angeles "there are more lanes on the highways here than in the bowling alley back home."

Although he never imagined himself as a comic who wrote material about his family, he said he now writes about his wife, his kids, his parents and himself.

He said that what he likes about New England is that despite differences in dialect, region or economic standing, the people all do about the same things: root for the Red Sox and Patriots, vacation at the beach and go to their mother's for supper.

He said that one audience member met him after a show in Denver and asked him, "Where are you from?" He called his Maine accent "a slow, dumbed-down version of a Boston accent, but not as angry."

Marley got the role of Det. Greenly in "Boondock Saints" through a friend of his who was friends in turn with Troy Duffy, the writer and director of the film. Marley read the script, was impressed and learned the lines for Greenly. He didn't hear anything more for three months and then was asked to audition at the director's home.

He impressed Duffy by performing the monologue he has at the beginning of the film from memory. He recalled Duffy say, "Yup, you're the guy."

Marley had acted in some independent films, but never one with as big a budget as "Boondock Saints" or with a cast that included such veteran performers as Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flannery and the legendary Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly.

He said that while filming the first film in 1999 the cast "didn't have a full grasp on how big it was going to be."

Marley also praised Dafoe, the star of the first film, who he said could do a take nine times and in nine different ways.

Although the theatrical release of the film was marred by studio politics, the film attracted an appreciative audience through home video and Marley said the number of fans he's met over the years wearing "Saints" T-shirts and tattoos has amazed him.

With the second film, his character has more screen time and more back story and while he enjoyed making the sequel - "We had a blast," - there was some pressure.

"All you thought about were the fans. You didn't want to let them down," he said.

As a comedian, Marley was impressed that Connolly was watching him work and becoming his friend.

Marley recounted, "I thought, 'there is no way Billy Connolly is standing in front of me and praising me.'"

He called Connolly "the salt of the earth" and "just humble" and recalled how the two couldn't make eye contact during a climatic barroom shoot out scene. The set had been wired with hundreds of explosive squibs to simulate gunshots and both men were worried they would start laughing during the take causing the crew to re-wire the squibs.

"We would have been in big trouble," he said.

He was allowed to adlib some in the film and he said that acting in a dramatic part has less pressure because "you're not getting a laugh out of it."

Marley doesn't think of himself as an actor, though.

He described himself as "a guy who is in some movies."