“I started acting when I was three so I was never able to be on a team, and that’s why I suck at skating,” says the Montréal-born actor. “In high school I didn’t really do many sports but I was a ski instructor for a year.”Although he says, “I don’t come from a family who does sports,” he inherited a love of hockey from his grandmother.
“The only person in my family who religiously watched hockey, every single game, was my mom’s mom, who looked like Queen Elizabeth,” he says. “She was super smooth. I never heard her scream or anything. At seven o’clock we’d be in the kitchen and she’d get up and go to the living room to watch hockey. She knew all the names. I actually started watching hockey with her.”
He also played street hockey with the kids on his block—“I was a goalie,” he says. “I’m born in ‘84 so when I was young the big, big star was Patrick Roy. I had my Patrick Roy jersey and my cheap Canadian Tire Patrick Roy mask and had a baseball glove…”—and “at some point I wanted to be on a hockey team like all my friends, and I told my mom and she said, ‘Well, you can, but you have to choose between the two. You can’t do both. It’s too demanding.’ I chose to continue acting, which I think was a good decision.”
He has been in the public eye steadily after making his debut as a toddler in a Minute Maid orange juice commercial but leads a normal life in Montréal.
“I’ve never had a glamorous life,” he says. “People think it is glamorous because they see one day out of the year when there is a red carpet and pictures and they think you are always living a glamorous life, especially when you’re working in Paris. (Where he just finished shooting an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs.) It seems so glamorous but it is actually a dirty city… dirtier than Montréal. A beautiful city, but dirty.”
One regret of his Goon experience was missing the premier at the theatre that stands where the iconic Montréal Forum once played host to 24 Stanley Cup championships.
“Obviously I was really bummed I couldn’t be there, especially because all my friends were all in town. Yeah, it sucked but it’s part of the game. But at least I had a good reason. I was working. It’s not like I was in jail.”
Usually he plays dramatic parts like his best known role, Zac, a young gay man dealing with homophobia in 1960s and 1970s Quebec in the film C.R.A.Z.Y. “I’ve never liked the fact that people think I’m some kind of dark, dramatic character as a person; that I read poetry before I go to bed and shit like that. I am so not like that.”
Goon offered the chance to show his comedic side, and he hopes now people know “that I’m not as serious. Especially on twitter, because I always tweet ridiculous stuff.”“It’s fun, and I loved doing Goon because of that. I loved, when we premiered it at TIFF, how people were comfortable with me. Friendly. When you do a dark dramatic movie people don’t talk to you at all. You’re by yourself all night.”