Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Best of Black Sheep: Black Sheep interview Jay Baruchel

An interview with GOON star/writer, Jay Baruchel

For Canadians, it is considered borderline sacrilegious to not be a hockey fan. I know this because I am not actually a hockey fan. Despite this horrible aspect of my personality, I still managed to greatly enjoy GOON, a new hockey movie that practically does away with the sport itself and strips it down to what everyone secretly really wants to see - the moment the gloves come off and these massive guys on skates go to town on each others’ faces with their fists.

GOON co-stars and was co-written and co-produced by Ottawa born and Montreal homed, Jay Baruchel, who is a big, big hockey fan. “Hockey is my religion,” he tells me over the phone, with not a single hint of sarcasm. “The Habs play 82 games a year; I probably watch 76 of them. It’s how I organize my weeks.” And while that might sound extreme, just you wait. “Even as I sit here right now, I’m wearing a Habs jersey, sitting on a Habs pillow and playing with my Habs wallet.”

Yes, I’d say Baruchel is a very big hockey fan. It suits him well too.

Baruchel’s love (read, obsession) for the game served him well on GOON, which was directed by Michael Dowse, of FUBAR fame. The film shines for two main reasons, not the least of which is its authenticity and evident appreciation for the sport itself. “There’s no bullshit you can smell in this movie,” Baruchel jokes. “It is a passion project built by people that love this game and are fascinated by this way of life.”

Baruchel celebrating co-star, Scott
The second reason, is the film’s star, Seann William Scott. Famous for comedic parts in the AMERICAN PIE series and the classic, DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?, Scott would not be my first choice for the sensitive role of Doug Glatt, a guy going nowhere and getting up there in years, who discovers his calling working as an enforcer for a minor league hockey team in Halifax, Nova Scotia. For Baruchel, there was no other choice.

“We were very lucky that he was able to do it and I can say this now that the movie is made and about to come out, but we didn’t have a backup!” Aside from being glad it all worked out, Baruchel also has nothing but kind things to say about Scott. “Anybody who has ever met Seann for 30 seconds knows that he has a massive heart and is the most humble, disarming guy you’ll ever meet. He puts most Canadians to shame.”

With co-star and fiancee, Toronto native, Alison Pill
While Baruchel has been making waves in both Canada and the USA with acting turns in GOOD NEIGHBOURS and as the voice of the hero in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGONGOON marks the first time he has written a feature screenplay. “It’s the first time anything I’ve written has ever been made,” he corrects me. For Baruchel, the rewards of writing carried certain expectations but he was still unprepared for the reality of how it all played out. “When you see these people connect to these characters that you created so much so that they start to know the character better than you, that was what was most exciting. These are people I wrote but the actors took ownership of them.”

Baruchel, looking smooth.
Unbeknownst to Baruchel, his own appreciative nature during our conversation was also quite disarming for me. While Baruchel is riotously vulgar as Doug’s best friend in GOON, it is clearly his role as writer that left him feeling smashed against the boards, y’know, in a good way. “It was a difficult movie to make but even at its hardest point, it was still this thing that came from my heart and my head that was now becoming real. I was just on a high the entire time we were filming.”

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