“Goon: Last Of The Enforcers” is out now in select theaters and in HD On-Demand and I was fortunate enough to talk to director Jay Baruchel about hockey and his experiences with the movie. I may have even inadvertently teased an Easter egg to look out for in the new flick.
I also just realized upon transcribing our interview, that we have the same initials...
AC-JB: So I for one am super excited about this movie, I loved the first one and I just watched it again today and I have to ask: As you are a Habs fan, Were the Evgeni and Oleg characters based on a certain Belurusian brother tandem of past Montreal Canadien fame?
JB: Heeeeeeyy well done my friend, well done. *laughing* That’s something that some people picked up on and because they’re not forwards, [they’re defencemen] I think people maybe don’t pick up on that, but yes, there is definitely a bit of Kostityn in their DNA.
AC-JB: Were any of the new characters in Last Of The Enforcers inspired by real hockey players?
JB: Indeed, but I think I should let time pass before I publicly mention any of that..
[Note: Look closely at the new characters in the Last Of The Enforcers]
AC-JB: I think what appeals to me and I am guessing to a lot of Goon’s audience is the throwback to the way Enforcers used to handle things. Something that has been slowly and quietly fading from the game of late. Would you agree?
JB: Yea I think it’s definitely on its way out, I mean y’know last season fighting in the NHL is down like 50% from the year prior and so there it is, history in the NHL has decided where it is and we saw that coming and we sort of using that as a creative light bulb for us, we knew Doug was going to have to step away from the game and as that occurred to us it was apparent that fighting was stepping away from the game itself and we were like that, that’s a nice kind of romantic, melancholy bit of character stuff there. As Doug hangs up his skates, that entire role is being retired as well. Doug becomes a sort of a relic to a bygone era in the time before he says goodbye so it was very different. In a lot of ways the NHL hockey now is very different than the hockey we used to watch.
AC-JB: So is it sort of transitioning toward the new pest-type role? The ones that can score and fight?
JB: Yea the sort of Maxim Lappiere prototype, yea that seems to be it. It just doesn’t seem to be something that the NHL wants as part of its brand.
AC-JB: Who was the best hockey player to work with on Last Of The Enforcers (this is where you say George Parros)
JB: *laughs* Yea he is, yea Parros is one of the best guys I know. He is a really really lovely man and a super hard worker and super humble and really really bright and charismatic and fun to be around. To be honest they were all pretty wicked and free with their time. Brandon Prust was super dope, Colton Orr gave us endless… him and Parros and Laraque, the three of them each gave us just like hours and hours and hours of their time and their energy and when someone comes and does a cameo on other films they show up for an afternoon and like the biggest thing they have to do.. the biggest concern for them is how much or how little makeup they have to have on. When they come to do a cameo on OUR movie we’re like fucking getting them to put on skates and gear and fucking hustle for 8 to 10 hours *laughs* its no small feat doing a cameo in a Goon movie and nary a complaint to be had from any of them.
AC-JB: It sounded like it was very complicated to shoot – how important to you was it to get the Hockey sequences down to being as realistic as possible?
JB: Oh that was a top 3 concern in the entire movie. We think that Goon, the first film got that stuff quite right. We think the hockey is pretty good in that movie and we thinking the fighting is really really good as well. But we cant be content to just retrace our footsteps, we have to see if there is anyway we can improve. Any by the way, how do you – you know Hockey is such a fast moving game and people are very very well acquainted with how its meant to be photographed and there is sort of, there is visual info you need. You need to know where the puck is, you need to know who is in possession, you need to know who is in front of them. All this different stuff, so how do you communicate that to the audience so that they understand and can feel connected to all of it, whilst kind of trying to break new ground and find a more interesting way of leading into it and so that was something that .. it all started from Jesse (Chabot) and myself asking ourselves what is the most exciting stuff to happen in hockey. And then once we kind of had our list, our hit list of everything we wanted – all the sort of best most exciting plays that we wanted to put in there, it was a question of parcelling them out in the thematically appropriate scenes. Because there is never just Hockey for Hockeys sake in our movie, every single action sequence pulls the story, has thematic reason for it. Then its getting Adrian Lomonaco our hockey coordinator who runs Journey To Excel here in Toronto which is Canadas probably leading Hockey academy. He ran our hockey camp for 3 weeks and he also choreographed all of our hockey, all of our on ice stuff that isn’t fighting and he has basically the unenviable task of translating Jesse and my clumsy stage direction into actual hockey plays that people could understand. And then it was photographing them in the most exciting and interesting way possible. But yea that was one of the sort of biggest things that took the most work, was making sure the Hockey was as beautiful and exciting as possible and to that end it really helps having an entire crew of Canadians. *laughs* You know there is like 100+ people on set at any time with their bullshit detectors yknow everyone on that set understands on a very profound fundamental level what the game is and how its meant to look and be played. I don’t know that we could have pulled it off elsewhere I don’t know that we would have had that many sort of critical eyes on us anywhere else.
AC-JB: I got to say thank you so much because as a fan of a franchise that was born of a film that took some extreme creative license with hockey and the way it is played, those scenes in the original Goon with LaFlamme scoring some realistic but still highlight reel goals… thanks for bringing the Hockey movie genre back to how it should be.
JB: *laughs* Cheers bud thank you!
AC-JB: *backpedalling furiously* That said without that franchise I wouldn’t have even known about hockey but yea.
JB: *laughs* Thank you, thank you very much for the kind words I appreciate that.
AC-JB: No problem, so I am really looking forward to this. You are my hero and this has been awesome and I cant wait to go see the movie. Please, please keep making more of them.
JB: Oh fucking right bud, thank you so much, nice of you to say I appreciate it.
So there you have it, I realise I kind of lost it when I went slightly improv and asked the stupid question about pests but give me a break this was my first ever interview and it was with a legit cool dude like Jay.
Go check out the movie wherever you can now!