The actor talks about this popular series, this last massive DVD set and a slew of future projects
Only two men can say they've played the classic character Indiana Jones, and Sean Patrick Flannery is one of them. This guy named Harrison Ford is the other one. You might have heard of him... Flannery's acting career was kickstarted when he won this coveted role of the younger Indiana Jones in the series Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. The last 10-disc volume of this series, that was re-edited in the 90s so that each episode was a feature-length film, hits the shelves on April 29, and I had the distinct pleasure of talking with this actor over the phone. Here's what he had to say.
You were cast as Young Indy fairly early in your career and it really was your big breakthrough role. How did you first become involved in this project?
Sean Patrick Flannery: Well, the casting process is how I initially became involved. You know, I was one of a bunch of guys that went and auditioned and they weeded it down and, low and behold, blew me away, I actually got the part (Laughs). It still blows me away. Then I had to get a passport and leave the country and start shooting it. That's kind of how it happened.
Yeah. This definitely wasn't your typical television show, with the massive locations and shooting schedule. Was the schedule kind of overwhelming for such a young actor at the time?
Sean Patrick Flannery: Well, I was a young actor, but I wasn't a young man, you know, but yeah. It was kinda crazy. I have no frame of reference. I'd never really done anything before, so it was all brand new to me. After that, people would go, 'Well, you've done TV before. You know how it is.' I really haven't done TV because every episode we did took five weeks. I think they shoot TV shows here in eight days. So I really didn't know what to expect. As far as I knew, that's how every TV show was shot. It's not overwhelming. If anybody ever tells you that the movie business is overwhelming, they need a reality check. On its worst day, it's butter. I mean, really.
It's still make-believe.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Yeah, exactly. You're just having a good time.
This was a fairly critically-acclaimed hit. Were you surprised when this was cancelled after two seasons?
Sean Patrick Flannery: No, not really. Not based on how good it is, but history dictates that. Some of the best, well-done things don't last that long. You have to make for the masses and, from the first episode, people just really didn't get in or plug into it. I think the continuity, it always had a different director, so you never really knew what you were tuning into. I think there are a lot of inherint problems with doing a TV series. If Simon Wincer is doing a horrific battle of the sun, which is gory and gas masks and flames coming out of the trenches, and Terry Jones is doing a non-sensical Monty Python version, from week to week, you really don't know. It's difficult to keep an audience like that. With Seinfeld, you're tuning in to Seinfeld. You pretty much know, every week, what you're going to see, so in that respect, I don't think it's rocket science to understand that's going to be a tough sell to the masses, every seven days. I think it's, without question, one of the most worthy television programs that's ever been aired.
Now that TV is more geared towards longer programming, it was the land of the sitcom back then, but do you think this would be received better now that audiences are used to longer, more drawn-out kind of stories?
Sean Patrick Flannery: Again, I think it's the continuity. I think people want familiarity. They want that comfort blanket. It's difficult with any show. It's even difficult with the horror series, with the different directors and totally different shows, it's even difficult with that. It's difficult to have a common thread. That's not saying that I don't think it's more worthy than the top 10 shows of today. It's very well-executed, very well-done, very engaging storylines, very well-cast, myself excluded. The ancillary characters are huge stars. I just think it's very well-done. Mathematically, it's not what most people would put on television, just doing the numbers.
This had a really unique history. They went back and re-edited everything into the 22 features. Do you think this is the best way for these stories to be presented, in these boxed sets?
Sean Patrick Flannery: Yeah, I do. I think it's a great way. I love the educational aspect, and I know that sounds retarded (Laughs), but I really do. If you follow the timeline, and the documentaries, I think it's great! I think it's engaging, I think it's compelling, I think it's all those things.
Yeah, I read an interview with (producer) Rick McCallum and he said they were trying to aim these sets towards educators and teachers because there was a lot of amazing stuff in there that could easily be integrated into the classroom.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Yeah, of course.
Can you talk a little about meeting and working with Harrison Ford on the Mystery of the Blues episode?
Sean Patrick Flannery: I never met Harrison Ford. I never met him, never worked with him, unfortunately. I never got to meet him, but that would've been great. I would've loved to, but I actually never got to.
With all the places you went to, do you have a favorite location or an episode from the series?
Sean Patrick Flannery: My favorite episode was The Battle of Verdun, and it was directed by an arthouse director named Rene Manzor. That's probably my favorite to watch. My favorite to shoot was Terry Jones' Barcelona. I got to work with a funny British actor named Timothy Spall. We could hardly get takes out because he would just make me laugh the whole entire time during the shoot.
I am just insanely pumped for The Boondock Saints 2.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Oh, thanks man.
We ran the Troy Duffy video from YouTube on the site and the comments were just astronomical. Everybody is pumped for it. Is there anything you can tell us about that? What stage are you at right now?
Sean Patrick Flannery: I can't, because Sony wants to make their own official announcement. Yeah, so I kind of need to stay hush on that, but it's going.
Do you have any idea when that (the announcement) may be?
Sean Patrick Flannery: Yes, I do... but I can't tell you (Laughs). I can't tell you, but it's definitely going.
Fair enough. I'm definitely looking forward to it. I'm a huge fan.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Well I appreciate it, man. That's cool.
It seems you're a pretty busy guy. You're writing and directing a movie, Sunshine Superman, you've got First Fear, To Live Or Die and, actually a friend of mine from college is shooting the TV series with you, No Game, Lyndsey.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Oh yeah!
Is there anything you can tell us about any of those?
Sean Patrick Flannery: Well, Sunshine Superman is a piece I wrote and that will be my feature directorial debut. No Game is a TV piece that we're all having a ball putting together and doing a lot of experimentation with. To Live Or Die is an MGM film that I just wrapped in Albequerque and that should come out in about six months or so. That's kind of the local lowdown.
Do you have any plans for the fourth Indy movie coming out? Are you going to the premiere or anything like that?
Sean Patrick Flannery: I don't know. If I'm around, I'd love to go. That'd be neat.
I read that the whole Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull story was actually supposed to be a story from the third season of Adventures of Young Indiana Jones that never ended up happening. It was either (George) Lucas or (Rick) McCallum that was fascinated by it and when it didn't get picked up, they turned around and made that into the movie.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Yeah. When does the fourth Indy come out?
It's May 23rd, Memorial Day weekend.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Oh, that should be killer. I'm excited about that.
It's going to make, oh, billions, probably.
Sean Patrick Flannery: (Laughs) I'm sure it'll make the GNP of a small country (Laughs).
(Laughs) Anything we run on the site, for that, just blows up, comments galore. I can't wait for it.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Well, they've got my 12 bucks too.
With this new movie coming out and just the whole mythology of Indiana Jones, where would you say your series, as a whole, fits in?
Sean Patrick Flannery: Well, I think it's a small piece of a bigger picture. I think the Young Indy years are all those life experiences that end up creating the character we know and love, portrayed by Harrison Ford. They're those youthful experiences that brought us that character.
Excellent. Well that's about all I have for you, Sean. I wish you the best and I can't wait to see all your upcoming ventures, especially The Boondock Saints 2.
Sean Patrick Flannery: Oh cool man. I appreciate it. Take care.
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Volume 3 10-disc set will arrive in stores on April 29.