Courtesy of Jerry Milani
Not many actors can say they got their start in show business playing a character based specifically on them, but Italian-American comedian David Della Rocco can.
Della Rocco, known for his supporting role in “The Boondock Saints” was managing a bar where he worked with his friend, writer and director, Troy Duffy, while Duffy was working on the script for the movie that would make Della Rocco famous.
“(At the time) I had long hair and a beard and (Duffy) said, ‘I have the two heroes and I’m going to have the sidekick and his name’s going to be Rocco,’ and he auditioned me and I got to do it,” Della Rocco said. “And even if he didn’t use me, he would’ve used my name.”
Della Rocco is scheduled to appear as a special guest at Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, held Friday to Sunday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
In “The Boondock Saints,” Della Rocco plays a mobster helping to free Boston of the wicked who inhabit it, alongside the MacManus brothers, played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus.
Della Rocco said Duffy liked his character, “Rocco,” “Roc” or “The Funny Man,” so much that he told him, “I just want you,” and he was able to act instinctively.
“Sean and Norm had to do Irish accents. I just had the freedom of being myself … (I) could be more spontaneous,” Della Rocco said. “The impulses that came up, I didn’t have to question them as an actor, I could just run with them.”
Although his role was modeled after himself, Della Rocco said he can’t relate to it 100 percent because he can’t see himself as a killer.
“I would never do any vigilante thing. I’m not that type of person. I don’t have it in me, but when you have freedom as an actor to be a killer, to be a bad guy or a good guy, you just have to figure out like, ‘How I would act if I did kill someone?'” Della Rocco said. “But me, myself, I’d be too afraid to go out killing people and having the mafia against me. I would never get involved with that.”
Although Della Rocco’s character dies in the movie, he was also a part of the sequel, “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” in which he helps the brothers through a task in a dream sequence.
Rumors of a third movie have been whispered, but Della Rocco said he has no idea if it’s going to happen. If it does he said he will more than likely not be in it.
“What’s funny about that is, I died in the first one. I got a cameo (in the sequel), a dream sequence, but basically, it’s over for me. I don’t even think that I would be involved in three,” he said. “I can’t keep coming back every movie, it might turn into a joke. I’m happy with my character, but you don’t want to push it too much.”
Della Rocco said the success he found through “The Boondock Saints” was unexpected.
“(I thought) it’s one of those films that nobody’s going to see, and in two years you won’t even be able to find the video,” he said. “I remember the first time we were going to talk at these four colleges, (thinking) ‘Well who the hell’s going to come,’ and we went to these colleges and each one of them were filled and we were signing autographs, it really blew me away.”
Della Rocco said he’s still blown away today by the success of the film and is looking forward to meeting even more fans of “The Boondock Saints” at Ohio Comic Con.
Jerry Milani, a spokesman for Ohio Comic Con, said Della Rocco is great to have at the event because of his fan base and his kindness toward those fans.
“He’s one of those guys that you mention he’s going to be coming to the show and people get excited about that. He’s a guy that has a following that I think goes beyond just him having been in ‘The Boondock Saints,'” Milani said. “And he’s the kind of celebrity, you go over to his booth and he’s extremely friendly with fans and extremely accommodating with fans. He’s kind of someone who goes the extra mile for fans who come out, so he’s someone that people really appreciate getting to meet him and that’s why we keep having him back.”
Personable guests like Della Rocco are just one of the attractions that draw in visitors to Ohio Comic Con.
Bryan Blau, a second-year in psychology, is taking his 13-year-old brother to Ohio Comic Con for his birthday this year, and is looking forward to the experience for a few reasons.
“It’s just the whole atmosphere, when all of that pop culture comes together in one place, it will be pretty cool to experience,” Blau said. “And to see old comics from my childhood that I haven’t seen in a while, I’m really looking forward to seeing that as well.”
The Greater Columbus Convention Center is located at 450 N. High St., and Della Rocco is scheduled to be at booth 329.
One-day tickets are available in advance on Ohio Comic Con’s website for $30 for Friday and Sunday, $35 for Saturday and tickets purchased at the door are an extra $10. Three-day passes are available for $50 in advance online and $60 at the door.