A few years ago, an eclectic team of American and Canadian filmmakers teamed up for Goon. The Canadian comedy told the story of Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a bouncer turned minor league hockey enforcer, and the bruised and bloodied ice warriors that fought with and against him.
Canadian hockey fan Jay Baruchel co-wrote the script and played Doug’s friend Pat, while other Canucks like Alison Pill, Eugene Levy and Marc-André Grondin rounded out the cast. Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque even had a cameo. But one of the most unexpected cast members may have been American Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, TV’s Ray Donovan) as enforcer Ross “The Boss” Rhea.
The sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, sees many of the players from the first film reunite when there’s an NHL lockout. As filming got underway, Michael Kennedy sat down with Schreiber at Barrie, Ontario’s Molson Centre to find out why the big American star returned for more physical abuse.
When you read the script for this second movie what was your reaction?
“Aren’t I too old for this? Ummm, you know, I loved the character, I loved the first movie and it was just a matter of getting back together with the guys who we did it with four years ago. I tried for a while not to do it but it was just unavoidable, I had to do it.”
There was a lot of heart in the first movie.
“Certainly the themes that I identified with, that were emotional for me, were those ideas of what it means to be part of a team and how important that is for a human being and particularly for someone like Ross who spent so much of his life on his own and is now embraced by a team.”
How did you prepare? Did you study hockey enforcers?
“Well the reason I did the [first] movie in the first place is that the producers of the film very generously promised to send me to five weeks of hockey camp and that, to me, is one of the great things about doing films, that you get to do these things that you never thought you’d have a chance in your lifetime of doing. Growing up in New York City hockey wasn’t a real big sport and even if it was I wouldn’t have done it. So when I realized at the ripe old age of 44 that I had the opportunity to learn to play hockey I was very excited. And along with that came the opportunity to work with people like Georges Laraque.”
What was your most memorable moment, either in this movie or the first one?
“I think being punched by Georges Laraque was a big one for me [laughs]. He’s a large man. His hand is literally the size of my head. And to see that coming at me, and hoping he was as good at missing punches as he was at hitting them, that was probably a big moment for me.”
This time Jay Baruchel not only stars and wrote the movie, he also stepped behind the camera. What’s he like as a director?
“I think it’s something Jay was born to do. He’s clearly a natural. If you know Jay, you know he’s got infinite people skills, which is a big part of being a director. He’s incredibly collaborative. But what I’m most impressed by is the way that he is moving the camera. I think people are going to be really excited. We’re shooting this one anamorphic [wide-screen], we’ve got something called the mobicam which is a kind of hybrid between a handheld and Steadicam and when you have guys who can really skate operating those cameras, and you’ve got guys like that in Canada, it’s pretty exciting.”
Did you guys bond as a team when you were making this movie?
“I think just about every actor who’s in the second one is in it because of the team and because of the group and feeling like you can’t let them go to battle without me, and I don’t want them to have any fun that I’m not going to have so we’re all here again.”
When you came back to do this one and were lacing up your skates, did you think to yourself, what the heck am I doing?
“That was actually yesterday. I’m still saying, ‘What the heck am I doing here?’ Coming at this from five weeks of training camp [for the first film] is certainly a different physical experience than coming at this from six months of Ray Donovan and my legs are not what they used to be, but that’s part of Ross too. He’s not what he used to be so we’re trying to work that into the character.”
Goon: Last of the Enforcers Hits Theatres March 17th