There’s a good chance everyone in your family has seen Montreal actor Jay Baruchel on screen. Clint Eastwood thanked him on stage when Eastwood accepted the Academy Award for Million Dollar Baby. Judd Apatow welcomed him into the ranks of Hollywood’s current crew of funny guys by casting him in Undeclared and Knocked Up. And he made his animated debut as the voice of Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon, which grossed nearly $500 million worldwide.
This month, he adds behind-the-scenes work to his movie-making variety pack as the co-star and co-writer of the hockey flick Goon, in theatres March 30.
It’s a natural project on Baruchel’s impressive resume considering his devout hockey fandom—and Canadian pride that includes a permanently inked maple leaf above his heart.
Goon stars Seann William Scott as an outcast who finds glory as an aggressive hockey player. Baruchel, who plays his foul-mouthed best friend, describes the comedy without exaggeration as an epic hockey opera.
“We wanted to make hockey appear on screen as beautiful and violent as it is in real life,” he says. “The movie had to represent how fast and aggressive the game is, how claustrophobic it is and how brutal it can be, with moments of genuine inspiration.”
With the controversy over the NHL’s talk of banning fights altogether in light of the deaths of hockey tough guys like Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak, player concussions and potential career-ending injuries, the film is bound to get audiences talking.
Goon is rated R and is unapologetic in its liberal splashes of blood. But it’s the kind of hockey Baruchel says he grew up watching.
“What I know about hockey I learned from my father,” he says. “I was raised in a house where we revered fighters and respected them.
“I think there are a lot of issues and a lot of stuff that can be fixed in hockey, but in all these conversations, I hear few of the players themselves chiming in on it. I hear a lot of talking heads passing judgment…nobody fights in hockey that doesn’t want to.”
Goon celebrates the hockey enforcer as the unsung hero who skates for a handful of minutes to protect his teammates and shift the momentum of the game.
Baruchel also controls the momentum of his own career by developing projects with friends. He co-wrote Goon with Superbad scribe Evan Goldberg and just finished shooting the survival comedy The Apocalypse, in which he co-stars with pal Seth Rogen. Baruchel also squeezes in projects that allow him to work with his idols: watch for him co-starring with Robert Pattinson and Paul Giamatti in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, due out later this year.
“I’m a movie nerd, and one of the best parts of my job is forging cool relationships with people that I was a fan of,” says Baruchel. “If it was up to me, I would only work with my friends or my heroes.”
Join the conversation
In the new slapshot-slapstick movie Goon, hockey violence can be seen, at times, as a barrel of laughs. Given the deaths last year of three NHL tough guys and the numerous reports of players sustaining concussions that have sidelined them from the game, some view this movie as entirely tasteless while others say it provokes vital questions. Should we end all incidental and intentional head-bashing in professional hockey? Take the poll and let us know what you think.
Baruchel grew up in the west-side neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. When he comes home, he hangs out at these NDG restaurants.
Bofinger BBQ Smokehouse
5667 Sherbrooke W.
5849 Sherbrooke St. W.
Ye Olde Orchard Pub
5563 Monkland Ave.