Not only will Derry’s former boxing champion John Duddy bring his sell-out play to The Playhouse this spring, the Galliagh man also stars in rock god Jon Bon Jovi’s new music video - released today!
The single and accompanying video ‘Because We Can’ is released today in the USA, and Duddy revealed all to the ‘Derry Journal’ from his base in Queens, New York.
Having spent years at the top of his game, the ‘Derry Destroyer’ hung up his boots and announced he was retiring from the sport in January 2011.
Nowadays the local man is more likely to be found treading the boards in New York theatres or as a bartender in the Big Apple. And he admits he has never been happier.
“The last few months have been the busiest in a long time,” John said this week. “All of a sudden there are doors opening up for me.”
“This time last year, I was just beginning acting school and had began working as a barman - just trying to make a new career for myself after giving up the boxing. I joined the Terry Schreiber acting school, which has been going for 40 years and had students like Ed Norton and Maggie Gyllenhall in the past, and I’m loving it.”
Explaining how the Bon Jovi video came about, John says: “Basically, my boxing manager got a phone call from someone looking for a fighter who could act and he said he knew the perfect guy. After sending them my details and a headshot, they called back straight away. They asked if I could dance and act. That was around 4pm and he called back at 6pm and asked if I could start that Wednesday! It was kinda cool...”
In the Bon Jovi video, Duddy stars as a boxer-turned-soldier who spots the woman of his dreams while in the ring mid-fight - with the distraction leading to a knock out. Thereafter, the pair never chance to meet, despite many efforts, and eventually John’s character gets sent off to war without ever seeing her. In a fitting Bon Jovi ending, the pair reunite at the end, with Duddy’s character sweeps her of her feet.
“We did the video in December and it was like a short film really, one song with four different videos. It was brilliant to be involved with. And I get knocked out in the video too!
What is it about acting,” John laughs, “In my first two acting jobs I got knocked out!”
“We filmed for three days, twelve hours a day in Brooklyn, Manhattan and in a night-club. There’s an awful lot of waiting about involved in acting, but it’s really enjoyable and fun too, I remember thinking at the time ‘I could do this for the rest of my life’. Especially now that I’m at acting school, I can speak the lingo and know what they’re talking about when they’re directing me and that really helps.”
The Derry man even got a chance to meet Jon Bon Jovi on set too.
“Yes, I met Jon Bon Jovi and the whole band and they are really sound guys,” John reveals.
“Grainne [his wife] met them all too when she came to visit the set. They really were all down to earth people. Jon Bon Jovi even told me it was a real pleasure to have me in the video, but I said no seriously, the pleasure is all mine! Ha-ha!”
As if glossy music videos aren’t impressive enough, John Duddy is also the main protagonist in a new play entitled ‘For Love’ which will run at Derry’s Playhouse this April following its sell-out run in New York City.
“Well, its a great play by a Limerick writer called Laoisa Sexton,” he explains. “We’ve had four shows in New York at the 1st Irish Theater Festival and all four of them sold out! So when Laoisa heard about the City of Culture happening in Derry she tried to get in touch with people here but couldn’t. So I knew someone out here who used to work at the Playhouse and we asked her, and she said we were in luck, as Pauline Ross was actually travelling over to New York the week after!”
The rest, as they say, is history. With ‘For Love’ already chosen as ‘The Pick of the Festival’ by The Irish Echo newspaper in New York, it didn’t take much to convince the Playhouse founder.
“Fair play to Pauline Ross,” John enthuses.
“I met her in New York and she was amazing. She literally opened up the calendar and said “when suits?” So we’re bringing it to Derry the week of April 5, and we’re also planning it for the Belfast Opera House, Dublin and Waterford hopefully. I’m really looking forward to it all!
John hopes that local theatre-goers might log onto the ‘For Love’ Facebook page, where they can donate or contribute funds to help the play travel. “This side of things is all new to me, but we’re locked into dates now and we need help to get there, so any contributions we get will help the play and the actors travel and help pay for things like car hire when we get to Ireland, etc. So please do check it out on Facebook.”
With his boxing days well and truly behind him, John Duddy eagerly embraces his new career and the fresh challenges it brings.
“When I said I’d never fight again, I meant it,” John says.
“I still like going to the gym and training kids and seeing them become more confident. But I’ve been acting since I retired and I’m quite happy as I am. I’m just making the most of it here. I’m going to class every week and I’m also doing commentary work in Madison Square Garden.
“We’re just over the moon. As long as we’re working, we’re happy.”