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Mike “The Captain” Dowse is a director with hockey in his DNA. “I was a Flames fan first because I’m originally from Calgary. When I moved to Montreal, it took me four years to switch over to being a Habs fan, but having a kid helped me get into it. I also started playing hockey again for the first time since I was fourteen. When you get right down to it, I love hockey.”
He and Jay Baruchel, the writer, had been circling each other for the past few years, initially, on a different project they were batting around, but it afforded them the opportunity to discover they worshipped at the same shrine – hockey. It was a solid match, especially given the sentiments Dowse had expressed in an article on āFubar IIā, āI love hockey and I love violence and I love comedy.ā
Of the three elements, comedy, hockey and violence, the first was the easiest for this particular director. He had established that with āFubarā, āFubar IIā, and āThe Foundationā. The idea of shooting hockey was more challenging because it’s one fast game. Players skate up to 45 km/hr. And then there is the violence.
“That’s a big part of the game, but itās also a big part of physical comedy,” said Dowse. Violent comedy (or comic violence) is a nuanced genre, one Tarantino made a name for himself by mixing the banal and the hyper-real, but in the context of āGoonā, Dowse noted, “Hockey gives you a nice bubble to do that with.”
“When it came to casting Doug “The Goon” Glatt, Seann William Scott was always in our minds,” said …well, everyone said that. It was more than just that. “Once Seannās name was mentioned, it ruined us because there was never anybody else who could play him. So if, for whatever reason, we didnāt get the chance to hire him, we would have been shit out of luck,” explained Baruchel. “Heās just unbelievable. Heās heartbreaking, heās compelling, and heās sympathetic.
And his acting is – in the best possible use of the word – simple. Itās direct, to the point, and exactly what it isās supposed to be. Heās someone we always wanted for his physical size and his acting ability and especially his comedic abilities. And he trained hard, not that heās portrayed as a fabulous skater, but as somebody who can do the fights and take the physical action.”
For Seann William Scott, the character of Doug Glatt was a “dream role”. He was approached two years before filming started and that was it. “I wanted to work with them so badly and they thought Iād be right for this part. This was the kind of movie I always wanted to do when I moved out to Los Angeles to pursue acting because, like every kid’s dream come true, you get to be a badass fighter. Honestly, this was the best experience Iāve ever had – and Iāve had a lot of wonderful experiences. My whole M.O. was to make sure I didnāt screw it up.”
“Jay Baruchel as Pat was a natural choice because the part was written for Jay Baruchel, by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg. So we were kind of saddled with Jay Baruchel, said Don Carmody. “No, seriously, heās terrific in the role and no one else could have pulled this off this combination of complete wacky weirdness and high energy profanity-spewing. Yes, Jay Baruchel is Pat.”
Doug Glattās erstwhile and somewhat surprising girlfriend, Eva, is played by Alison Pill. A romance born in a bar, Doug and Eva are definitely an odd couple, each nurturing their own extreme quirks. “They do seem destined for each other. Alison is incredibly adorable, but she’s not playing this as drop dead gorgeous or the beauty queen. She’s somebody we believe could fall for a slow-witted hockey player. The chemistry between the two of them is extraordinary,” said Carmody.
Eugene Levy is cast as Dr. Glatt, Dougās accomplished father. He and Seann have had a relationship that dates back to 1999 and the first of the American Pie series. Eugene is a comic genius and the filmmakers feel fortunate to have secured Levy as part of the cast. He plays the baffled father whose whole family is intelligent and overachieving, and while disappointed in his son, he nonetheless tries to support him as much as he is able.
Sporting an end-stage Movember horseshoe moustache, Tony- Award winning, classical actor, Liev Schreiber stepped up to play Ross Rhea, the penultimate hockey goon. Shapira and Gross campaigned hard for this innovative casting and won. “He is terrifically menacing, funny and self-aware – as a good goon should be. I think this will be a real surprise when his legions of fans see him in this role,” said Carmody.
Finally we have Marc AndrĆ© Grondin as Xavier LaFlamme, the young, hotshot French-Canadian hockey star, who has fallen on hard times and succumbed to the temptations of stardom. Many will know him from his star turn in the wonderful (and multi-award winning) coming-of-age movie, C.R.A.Z.Y. Heās charming. Heās handsome and a natural talent on the ice, as well – a perfect counterpoint to Seann’s performance.
When all is said and done, āGoonā is a tribute film. “A few years ago in Montreal, I had a dinner with this couple in their 50s,” recall Baruchel. “The wife had gone out with my Dad back when they were teenagers and the husband had played hockey alongside my Dad. I asked him what kind of hockey player my father had been and the man said, ‘Your Dad liked to finish his checks.’
[Translation for non-hockey types: When a player has another player lined up for a clean hit, he follows through or finished his check. If he pulls up, he just nudges or glances or brushes. In the olden days, a guy who finished his checks showed commitment and a willingness to muck it up.] “Back then, your father raised you to think either Gretzky was the man or Gretzky was a pussy.
My Dad was a ‘Gretzky is a pussy’ guy. So āGoonā, the goriest, rowdiest, coarsest language, awesomest, hockey flick ever made, is in large part for him.”