Despite having the kind of breakout Hollywood success most actors could only dream of — starring in the critically lauded She’s Out of My League, the number-one hit How to Train Your Dragon and headlining Disney’s upcoming Sorcerer’s Apprentice — the patriotic Canadian (he has a maple leaf tattooed over his heart) hasn’t taken up digs in Los Angeles or New York. In fact, he still lives in Montreal where his latest movie was shot.
“It was genius,” he says of making The Trotsky in his hometown. “If I go away to make movies it means I have to say goodbye to my mom, my cat, my friends, my bed, all that stuff, so to be able to go to my house every night and flip channels with my roommates and pet the cat was crazy.”
In the comedy, directed by actor-turned-director Jacob Tierney, he plays the budding Bolshevik Leon Bronstein, a 17-year-old who believes he is the reincarnation of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
“When I talked to Jacob about this I told him I was scared to play a character 10 years younger than me,” he says. “I was trying to leave that behind, but then I came to the Ferris conclusion. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my favourite movie of all time and I realized that Leon kind of is Ferris in regards to the way he affects change in other people’s lives and goes to war against his principal.”
Baruchel may have used Ferris Bueller as a muse, but to fully round out the character he cobbled together a “bunch of subtle tiles in the mosaic that make up this weird guy.”
First he looked back at himself. “In high school you just care about everything so much,” he said. “I was incredibly impassioned and prone to crying and punching stuff and throwing fits and getting really angry, so I had to channel that.”
Then he added in some physical comedy. “I had this overriding idea that because he’s such an odd bird, there was room for some physical comedy and that’s why I walk out of every scene like a cartoon character.”
More than anything, however, he says he’s thrilled to portray a side of Montreal that rarely gets seen on screen.
“If you watch English movies from the rest of Canada, you’d never know that there are Anglos in Montreal,” he says. “If you watch French movies from Quebec, you’d never know there are Anglos in Montreal. So either way we’re forgotten, but we’re back! Anglo Montrealers are back everyone! We’re coming at ya!”