Last seen careening off a cliff after their car slipped on a banana peel, the O’Doyles occupy an interesting place in cinema history. The b-plot antagonists of Adam Sandler’s first classic comedy Billy Madison, the quartet of red-headed bullies gave the movie one of its most beloved running gags. Whether they’re dumping tapioca on Billy’s head, filling his locker with cow shit, or pegging him in the head with a dodgeball, Billy’s classmates are always there to remind him that “O’Doyle rules.”
For as memorable as these characters are, their cinematic star burned bright before quickly fading. Since the film’s release, many have wondered what became of the O’Doyle brothers, and now in a new interview with Vice, fans have an answer.
Writer Nate Rogers goes deep into the whereabouts of the meanest bullies in Billy’s school, discovering that at least two of them, Sean Lett and Colin Smith, the 12th-grade and 9th-grade O’Doyles, respectively, were non-actors. They responded to cattle call auditions to prove their hair color and ability to look tough on screen. “My boss at the time was reading a paper that had a small want-ad for red-headed males, age 16–21, or something like that,” Lett, 48, told Vice. At his boss’ behest, he showed up to an audition filled with “red-headed dudes as far as the eye could see.”
In the years since, they’ve been able to manage with the fame that comes with being a beloved cult classic, even when the press makes that difficult. Connor Devitt, the 1st grade O’Doyle, recalls being included in a TMZ “Where Are They Now” segment, in which they call him “dodgy.” Still, it doesn’t seem to bother him.
“I think they thought it was ‘dodgy’ because I threw the dodgeball,” Devitt said. “That’s how I looked at it. Unless I looked sketchy then, but I don’t know what the guy’s prerogative was. TMZ, oh well, what can you say with them? I’m pretty confident and self aware of what I am and who I am, so I didn’t really put too much into it.”
The interview is a must-read for Billy Madison fans. It even includes the origins of the O’Doyle name and some information on the original screenplay that features a “bonus half hour” that was never filmed.