Inspired by the book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey Into a Minor Hockey League, the hockey comedy Goon follows Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a bouncer at a local bar who ends up in a bloody fist fight that catches the eye of the Halifax Highlanders. Hampered by his lack of hockey playing ability, Doug joins the minor league team at the encouragement of his hockey-obsessed best friend (Jay Baruchel) and quickly becomes its mammoth-sized star.
At the film’s press day, actor Seann William Scott talked about being new to the game of hockey, how lucky they were not to get hurt with more than a few bruises, playing the earnest guy and the training he had to go through to bulk up, while producer/writer/actor/lifelong hockey fan Jay Baruchel talked about how terrible he is at hockey even though he’s such a big fan of the sport, getting to meet the real guy that the film was inspired by, the influence of Slap Shot, starting Seth Rogen’s feature directorial debut, The Apocalypse, at the end of April, and voicing Hiccup for both How to Train Your Dragon 2 and the Cartoon Network TV series. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT: I knew baseball, basketball and football. I’m still kind of new to the game, but I love it now. I just can’t play it. I’m terrible!
Did you lie about your skating ability?
SCOTT: No, I was pretty honest about it. I may have fibbed a little bit, in that first meeting, and said, “I can skate pretty good.” But, after they saw me on skates, they knew.
JAY BARUCHEL: It was so obvious!
Was any of your real blood mixed in with all of that fake blood?
SCOTT: No. We were lucky. There were some bruises, for sure, and we tagged each other. There were a lot of landed punches. But, we were lucky, for the amount of stuff that we did.
BARUCHEL: No one opened each other up.
BARUCHEL: Because I’m terrible at hockey. Why would I want to show people how shitty I am at skating? And, who would buy me as a fucking hockey player? Fandom doesn’t necessarily mean that I love playing the game. But, I do. I quite like skating, and I like being out there with my friends, but I don’t do it very often. I just love the game. I’m a Montrealer. That’s where I was raised, it’s where I still live, and it’s where I’ll be, for the rest of my life. When you grow up there, there are some things that are just taken for granted. One of the few things that my mother and my friends have in common is that they’ll both ask me about the game last night. It’s just part of it. When you’re there, you drink the Kool-Aid. It’s your favorite thing. For me, to make movies in Canada is my life’s dream and my life’s ambition, so to get to make a movie in Canada, specifically about hockey, I could retire tomorrow.
Seann, how much fun was it for you to be able to play the earnest guy that the audience is rooting for?
SCOTT: It was everything for me. Beyond him just being a sweet, good, quiet guy, the character is rich with qualities that I loved. It was funny because it was easier. The character was funny without trying to be funny, at times. It was written that way. But, I do remember going home, often feeling like I had been bullied. If there was a scene where they were making fun of Doug, and you do that all day, I’d go home and be like, “I wanna call my mom. What’s going on here? Why am I so sad?” But, I guess that’s what real acting is like. It was a ball for me.
What kind of training did you have to go through, in order to skate convincingly well and bulk up some?
SCOTT: I ate a lot of stuff. I practiced skating, a bit before we started shooting, but most of the time I spent on the ice was when we were shooting the film. And, it’s pretty easy for me to bulk up. I just had to change my routine a little bit and not work out as much. But, I didn’t have so much of an issue to maintain the weight. My body was happy with it. It took awhile for me to lose it, and I’m still trying.
Did you get to meet the real guy this was inspired by?
BARUCHEL: I didn’t get to meet Doug Smith until after the movie was done. We got to meet the writer – his best friend – who I play the shitty version of. Adam Frattasio was the guy who wrote the book, and was his sidekick who videotaped all his fights. When I got to finally meet Doug, it was this amazing thing because I had heard so much about him and thought so much about him, for so bloody long. When you meet him, you can’t be prepared for how kind he is. That’s one of the things I think we nailed. The hardest guys I know are often the most polite guys and the nicest guys, and Smith is exactly that. He’s super disarming when you meet him. You also can’t be prepared for how fucking huge he is. He is a big boy, Doug Smith. His arms are about the width of my body. He just takes my hand out of the socket, whenever he shakes it. I didn’t get a chance to meet him beforehand, but his book was one of a few resources that we used on the movie. Yes, Doug Smith and the book, Goon, are the nucleus of this story, but there were a lot of contributing factors. We distilled Doug’s career down to one sentence, and then took that sentence and went off to make the opera we had to make. So, we consciously avoided showing Seann a lot of other hockey fights because we wanted to get this thing where it’s this guy’s first time on skates. He’s fought before, but he’s never fought on ice, and we wanted to see that. We wanted it to have its own unique thing to it. To me, this movie is a martial arts movie, and there are different styles and disciplines. Whoever studies that discipline, then makes it personal and makes it his own. So, we made a conscious effort to make Seann, as Doug, in the way he moves and fights, its own thing, completely. We didn’t set out to make a biography of Doug Smith, and mimic and parrot everything he did. We took what his life and career mean and made our own thing, and then ended up meeting him.
What does Doug Smith think of the film?
Jay, what led you to add the Jewish family and the gay brother to the story?
BARUCHEL: The three contributing factors for writing the movie were Doug Smith, this documentary called Les Chiefs, which is an amazing sports documentary about this minor league hockey team in Quebec, and the my father of it all. I’m half-Jewish on dad’s side, and he was an immigrant to Canada. I can’t separate my understanding of hockey and hockey fighting, specifically, from my dad and his first generation Jewish immigrant experience. He played hockey on an all-Jewish hockey team, and he finished his checks. He was there to look out for his boys. He’s part of the pendulum shift generation where the last generation wanted to hide your Jewishness and Anglo-cize your name, but dad couldn’t find a Magen David (Star of David) big enough. He wanted everyone to know, and the best thing that could happen to him that week was if someone gave him shit for it. Making his brother gay, that’s really my reaction to being fed up with a certain type of movie. There’s a philosophy and a place that movies have been coming from for awhile that is this Alpha male, douchebag, fratboy bullshit thing that I just have no fucking connection to. Where I’m from and in my experience, the hardest guys I know are the nicest guys I know. They’re not fucking mutually exclusive. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most of those fratboy douchebags would get their asses kicked by my friends. Where I grew up, we couldn’t care less what race you were. Some kids were fat, some kids were short, some kids were black, some kids were gay. Who fucking cares? Are you nice? Are we getting on? Then, we’re friends. That’s that. I just wanted to be able to make a movie that had a positive outlook on life, and be more hard-nosed than anything a studio has put out in a fucking decade. Our fights are harder and we’ve got more coarse language, but it’s a way nicer, more positive movie with heart. It’s about nice people being nice to each other, man.
How much of an influence was Slap Shot?
BARUCHEL: To be a hockey fan, you can never disconnect from Slap Shot. To go even further, to write a hockey movie, you can never disconnect from Slap Shot. That being said, it’s a nightmare to try to recreate something, and it’s also just untruthful. So, we always knew that, in the best case scenario, this would end up being to our generation what Slap Shot was to that one. But, we had no interest in making the next one. It was a reaction to how shitty hockey has been photographed in movies, since then. With the lack of space, the speed that the boys are going at, the size of the boys themselves and how small the puck is, hockey has been photographed terribly in movies, for whatever the combination of reasons. It’s always been too precious, too staid, too slow, too fucking staged and fake. That was one of the things that we needed to nail. If we didn’t nail it, then we should just pack up and go home because then there was no point in making this bloody movie. We needed the hockey to be the best it’s ever been, in a movie. We needed our fights to be as strong as any fight. We wanted to go toe-to-toe with any fight that a movie has had, in the past 20 years. We wanted it to be truthful, and we just wanted to be as exhilarating, horrifying, awe-inspiring and beautiful. Hockey is nothing, if not a confluence of phenomenon and emotions. We just tried our best to do that and to show that.
When will you start shooting Jay and Seth Vs. The Apocalypse with Seth Rogen?
BARUCHEL: At the end of April.
What do you think about Seth Rogen stepping into the director’s role?
BARUCHEL: It’s gonna be great! He’s a guy I’ve known since I’m 18, so if nothing else, we have a shorthand. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good one.
Do you have any involvement with the How to Train Your Dragon animated series for the Cartoon Network?
BARUCHEL: Yeah, I’m in it! I’m in every episode. I’ve already recorded a bunch of them, and we’re in the process of doing the second movie, too. I’m doing the movie and the TV show.