When I meet Jay Baruchel and Seann William Scott in a room at the Regency Hotel, the actors are a little nonplussed. Their movie Goon, which Baruchel wrote and costars alongside Scott, had its New York premiere the night before, and the projectionist played the wrong cut. “I thought something was a little bit different, and then Jay told me they played the wrong cut,” Scott says, before turning towards Baruchel and leveling with him. “Dude, the picture sucked last night.”
How did Baruchel feel about the incident? The raunchy hockey comedy is, after all, the Canadian actor’s baby. “I was infuriated, but here’s the thing: We were the only ones in the audience that knew and we didn’t want to take away from the positivity of the evening,” he says. “People connected to it, but the night before in Toronto, we were on their biggest screen, crystal clear picture, gorgeous fucking sound. Here, with the wrong movie and the projector being busted, there was blue shit on the left side of the screen the whole fucking time.”
Goon tells the story of Doug Glatt (Scott), a gold-hearted nightclub bouncer who finds his calling on the ice as an enforcer for a minor league hockey team. Baruchel, who wrote the script, costars as his best friend Ryan, who gleefully eggs his pal on as he rises through the ranks of amateur hockey by pummeling opponents with reckless abandon. Baruchel, who’s a member of the Apatow Clan (He’s appeared in Knocked Up and Undeclared) still lives in his native Montreal, Canada, and is a diehard hockey fan. Goon, which opens Friday, is his passion project. Here he talks about making the film and the dark truths of fighting in hockey, while Scott explains what motivated him to revive Stifler in the upcoming American Reunion.
BULLETT: The New York Times recently published an expose on the death of the hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, which raised some dark truths about the physical tolls of fighting in hockey. Did that affect the you?
BARUCHEL: It has. I won’t lie, I didn’t read the whole thing, but I read a bit of it. I was already well-versed on the guy’s problems. But it doesn’t change us, because we made the movie we made, and to sort of go and try to backtrack would be cowardice, especially since our movie isn’t a celebration of violence. It is merely a celebration of the boys that do this difficult job. We get shit for, How can you make a comedy about this? Well, we’re not making a comedy about that, we’re making a movie about this type of guy that does this horrible, terribly misunderstood job. I have nothing but respect for those boys, and nothing but sympathy for their families, but our movie is a chance to give them their moment in the sun.
Jay, you’re obviously a huge hockey fan, but Seann, what was your familiarity with the sport before you took on this project?
SCOTT: I grew up in Minnesota, so all my friends played, but I grew up playing basketball. It was one of the huge gifts of being able to do this movie, to learn about not just a sport, but the kind of sport that I grew up wishing that I had played. I had no idea how fucking awesome it was, how the guys interact.
BARUCHEL: Brotherhood. That’s exactly right, because hockey is a kaleidoscope of emotions and sensations. It’s as elegant as it is brutal, and it’s as fast as it is violent. And there are moments that have inspired fucking beauty and brilliance permeated by moments of real bad intentions, and this is why it’s the greatest game the world’s come up with.
Jay, do you see this as a Canadian movie? Because you use a lot of American actors.
BARUCHEL: It is a Canadian movie, because I wrote and produced it with Evan Goldberg, and Michael Dowse directed it, and it was made with Canadian money and it takes place in Canada, and we shot it in Canada.
SCOTT: Liev Schrieber and I are the foreign actors in the movie.
BARUCHEL: We want everyone to connect to this movie if they dig it. That being said, we set out to make the movie for very specific people. When you try to make something for everyone, you’ll end up making something for no one. So we picked an audience, and we wanted to make a movie that we felt Canadian kids have been waiting for, for a long time. That being said, it came out in the UK and it’s the highest grossing Canadian movie in British history, in a culture where hockey is not ingrained in their day-to-day life.
Seann, how did you come aboard this project?
SCOTT: I was doing press with Paul Rudd for Role Models, and after an interview, he told me that he’d spoken to Evan and he and Jay were working on the script, and they were actually thinking of me, and I was like, Are you fucking kidding me? I love those guys. The script had already been finished, and they want to talk to me, I was like, Holy Shit. So I spoke to Evan that night and then I finally got the script, and would have done anything to be in this movie. The guys believed in me.
BARUCHEL: It was a love-fest.
Jay, there was a controversy when some of the advertising for the movie got taken down in Toronto because it featured you making a lewd gesture. Were you pissed off, or pleased with the free publicity?
BARUCHEL: I’ve got to choose my words correctly. I was surprised and kind of found it super annoying. I would think people would have bigger fish to fry. By the way, those posters have been up in Montreal for close to two months, and now they’re being taken down off some buses in Montreal because of what happened in Toronto. That being said, I firmly believe that there is almost no such thing as bad publicity. More than anything, it’s just super lame.
Seann, American Reunion is out soon. What was it like being Stifler again?
SCOTT: Oh, it was a ball. Especially knowing that I had done Goon, so I didn’t feel like a fucking whacko, like, yeah, let’s do American Pie for a fourth time. It was great, but I also pitched the whole thing because there was a time when I was like, you know, I don’t know how long this whole career thing is going to go so I might as well go back and have a ball playing this really fun character in his thirties. And in our business, it’s kind of like it doesn’t matter if you’re fucking good in a movie or if the movie’s good, if it makes a ton of money you start getting more opportunities. I’m like, you know what, let’s go back to the drawing board here, maybe there’s a way to make American Pie awesome again. It all worked out and we had a ball. It’s a great film—definitely, in my opinion the best of the series.