Welcome to the House of Crouse. First up, “Wilson” star Judy Greer stops by for a quick visit to talk about working with Woody Harrelson and signing the boobs of Archer fans. Then we go long with “Goon: Last of the Enforcers” star Kim Coates. He recites Shakespeare, talks about “Sons of Anarchy” and growing up on the Canadian Prairies. From boobs to Shakespeare, we cover it all, so c’mon in and sit a spell.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” the drug addled “T2 Trainspotting” and the no-holds-barred “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.”
“Goon: Last of the Enforcers” is about as subtle as one of Doug the Thug’s brutal uppercuts to the jaw. A foul-mouthed celebration of hockey rink sluggers directed by Jay Baruchel, it paints the ice with so much blood it makes the raunchy classic “Slapshot” look positively Victorian in comparison.
Six years since the original “Goon,” Seann William Scott returns as Doug Glatt, enforcer for the Halifax Highlanders. Imagine the love child of Tie Domi and Lloyd Christmas; a hockey bruiser with a heart of gold. The pro teams have been locked out and all eyes are on the Highlanders. As Captain and enforcer Doug is the team’s ticket to the playoffs until he comes out on the wrong end of an on-ice brawl with rival Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell). Beaten and bloody, Doug is forced into early retirement and Cain is recruited to take his place.
As Cain bashes heads on ice and off, Doug provides for his pregnant girlfriend Eva (Alison Pill) as an insurance salesman but as the season wears on Doug finds himself drawn back to the rink. “I don’t think the insurance bug has truly laid its eggs inside me,” he says. At first he sneaks in ice time behind Eva’s back but when he finally comes clean she is cool with him returning to the ice as long as he doesn’t fight. Question is, will it be possible for Doug lace up and hit the ice without raising his fists?
The final showdown between the two bruisers boils down to the simple fact that Doug loves the game while Cain only loves to win.
“Goon: Last of the Enforcers” replaces the enforcer-as-gladiator subtext of the first film with easier to digest philosophical messages about loyalty, doing the right thing and how understanding your purpose and place makes for a happy life. That it splatters those messages with gallons of blood, jokes about autoerotic asphyxiation and, well, just about every bodily function known to man. It is rough and rowdy, like a scrappy booze-fuelled minor league game.
Scott brings his goofy charm to Doug, a sweetheart of a guy with an iron fist and a bum shoulder. He teammates are likeable misfits, each a little quirkier than the last. Locker room talk—some that would make the Hanson Brothers blush—abounds between them, but their real bond is a shared love of the game.
As Darth Vader on skates Wyatt Russell is welcome addition to the team. He gets the off kilter rhythm of the dialogue and is as villainous as Doug is soft-hearted.
At it’s dirty little heart “Goon: The Last of the Enforcers” is a sweet movie about love, Doug’s dual loves for Eva and the game.
Happy Canada Week. Here at the House of Crouse we go big. Not satisfied to simply celebrate Canada Day on July 1, we’re honouring our home and native land for the whole week! Spend some time with us and noted patriots Brent Butt, Jay Baruchel, Jill Hennessy, Deepa Mehta, Patrick Mckenna and the most Canadian being of all, Captain Canuck. Stop by and stand on guard with us.
In Goon Liev Schreiber embodies one of the great hockey traditions. As Ross Rhea he’s a bruiser, the kind of hockey player that makes Don Cherry grin from ear to ear. Whether he’s gliding down the ice or trading blows with another player, he looks like a natural. Like someone who grew up on skates.
“I could never play hockey,” he admits, but adds, growing up on New York’s Lower East Side gave him the chance to catch Rangers games from time to time.
How then did he manage the professional level hockey he plays in the movie?
“Easy,” he says, “I had a fantastic double. But I also went to hockey camp for six weeks and polished up my skills and now I play. I love it. We played almost every night on set and now I’m looking for a league in the city to join. A very elderly gentleman’s league. The problem is I’m no good with the puck. All I’m good at is hitting and unfortunately it’s not nice to do that in these leagues.”
For the Yale educated actor the trick to creating a believable character was research. At six-foot-three, with broad shoulders and a Wendel Clark handlebar moustache he looks the part, but he dug deeper to humanize a man who beats people up for a living.
“I don’t know how to approach anything than from the beginning,” he says. “What is an enforcer? Who can I talk to? And I quickly hooked on to Bob Probert (one half of the Red Wings’s “Bruise Brothers”). I wouldn’t say the character is based on him but I would say he was in my heart when I was playing this role.”
Added to the on-ice action is his character’s impending retirement from the game.
“You take somebody like Ross Rhea who’s probably been skating and playing hockey since he could walk. That’s all his life was ever about and at the tender age of thirty-nine or forty it is suddenly over and there is nothing else. There are no more fans. There are no more teammates. No more games. That is a hard transition for a guy to make.
“I’m not so sure that some of these tragedies that have occurred with these enforcers didn’t have something to do with that. What you’re left with is a battered body, a battered spirit and a habit, maybe, of taking things to control pain, and doing things to control pain.
“Goon is a love letter to those guys. It is saying to them, You’re not undervalued, you’re not underappreciated. We know what you went through and how much of your body, mind and spirit you gave to this game in the course of your life and we’re grateful you did.”
One thing Schreiber didn’t do to prepare was revisit a classic hockey movie.
“I had seen Slap Shot years ago and loved it,” he says, “but I put it out of my head because I wanted to start with a clean slate.”
“My girlfriend gets pissed,” says Seann William Scott, “because I don’t do anything except watch movies.”
His on-screen education becomes clear as he explains how he tackled the character of Doug Glatt, the impossibly sweet, but violent hockey enforcer in Goon.
“He’s not Peter Sellers in Being There,” he says. “I wanted to make sure he came across as a real guy,” says Scott. “Not Forest Gump on skates.”
Director Mike Dowse chimes in with his own film comparisons.
“Doug reminded me of Lenny from Mice and Men or Rocky Balboa or even Chauncey Gardner. A great simpleton character.”
It’s a risky role. Play him too broadly and he’ll be a caricature, underplay him and the audience won’t care about him.
“It’s a performance thing,” says Dowse. “What we did was develop a ‘Doug Filter’ that Seann would put on as an actor. We talked about how Doug isn’t slow, he’s careful. He chooses his words. He tries to be polite. Once Seann got the filter, you could throw anything through it. It’s a really difficult thing to do; play a simpleton smartly.”
Throwing ideas through the filter is one thing, but Doug also throws punches. Lots of them.
“As violent as it is, and as wild as the fights are, you still love my character,” says Scott, “because he doesn’t fight just to fight. He has a moral code. Doug is such a good, sweet guy, you can get away with that because there is an interesting dichotomy between the guy who’s out on the ice bleeding for his team and the man he is off ice.”
“We weren’t trying to glorify the violence at all,” says Dowse. “We’re just trying to show the impact of being in this guy’s skates and having the audience experience that.”
“I also loved how polite these guys are,” Scott says of the hockey enforcers he met while researching the part. “They’re like, ‘Good fight,’ after they’ve just beaten someone on the ice.”
One aspect of the role that eluded Scott was the skating.
“If there are any shots of me skating fairly well that would be my double,” he laughs. “Anytime I’m falling down, that was me. The double had to actually dumb down his skating to match mine.”
If “Goon,” the new film about Canada’s favourite sport starring Jay Baruchel and Seann William Scott, could be summed up in one image it would be of a tooth soaring through the air in slow motion.
The airborne bloody Chiclet is as significant a symbol to “Goon” as Mona Lisa’s smirk was to High Renaissance painting and open “g” tuning is to Keith Richards’s guitar. The tooth, and the punch that dislodged it, are celebrated by the film as an essential part of the game.
Like its main character the movie is violent, sweet and a little dimwitted. Unlike other sports films “Goon” doesn’t use the game as a metaphor for, or a microcosm of, real life. The flying tooth is just that, a tooth dislodged by a mighty punch to the mouth, but beyond the broken teeth and smelly jock straps, the film does have philosophical messages: Loyalty matters, doing the right thing is crucial and understanding your purpose and place makes for a happy life.
In some ways the messages are very Zen, except for the bloody mouths, scabby fingers and the aforementioned flying tooth.
But rather than focus on the philosophical it chooses to romanticize its subject. Enforcers are glorified — “You’ve been touched by the fist of god.” They are compared to soldiers — “Everybody loves soldiers,” says LS, “until they stop fighting and come home.” They are men whose job it is to lay their personal safety on the line for the benefit of others.
In the world created by the movie, I suppose it’s true, but that sentiment might ring more clearly if Doug wasn’t such a dolt. Perhaps if he thought before he threw a punch we as an audience might see his actions as more of a statement of personal beliefs and less as a simple gladiatorial display.
“Goon” does capture the rough and rowdy feel of minor league hockey. It’s profane enough to make the Hanson Brothers blush and violent enough to convince Paul Henderson to buy a helmet. Fun stuff, particularly if you’re a hockey fan.
Marc-André Grondin has a confession to make. Despite playing a professional hockey player in Goon, he has spent more time on skis than skates.
“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.”
SIDEBAR: How did Seann William Scott like filming just north of home?
“I expected it to be like Minnesota, but the girls were hotter in Winnipeg,” he says. “They dress better and they’re a little more hip. I was confused. Minnesota is just below. How’d they get so hip? I think they just eat better. They’re not stuffing cheese curds down their throats.”
Seann William Scott is best known for playing Steve ‘Stifmeister’ Stifler in the American Pie series of movies. The character was a hard partying lug-head, who, according to the direct-to-DVD sequel Band Camp, became a porno director.
His specialty in films like Road Trip, Dude, Where’s My Car? and The Dukes of Hazzard is playing hapless stoners and lug-heads so it may surprise you that his DVD player is currently hosting La Vie en Rose. That’s right, the life story of singer Édith Piaf.
“That may be my favourite movie of all time,” he says.
I tell him I once interviewed the movie’s star Marion Cotillard.
“Is she hot?” he asks. “I have such a huge crush on her. She’s got a boyfriend though. I went on the computer and looked up who she’s dating. A serious boyfriend for a long time. Sucks.”
That’s the Seann William Scott audiences know and love. As an actor he usually finds the unexpected angle on a joke, and knows how to reel the viewer in.
We have a laugh before moving on to talk about his new film Goon. He plays a hockey enforcer even though he didn’t grow up with the sport. “I’m more of a fan now,” he says. “When I grew up in Minnesota I played baseball, football and basketball. So in the wintertime that’s what I played, which is odd, because it’s Minnesota. All my friends played hockey and I was always envious because all the girls liked the hockey players. Nobody came to the basketball games.”
“Since the movie I have a greater appreciation of it now because it is so intense. I love hockey now. I think the relationship between the players is way cool.
“The guys are just closer and there is a sense of humour about it. Maybe it’s a more manly sport than basketball … I’m sure a lot of basketball players won’t appreciate that.”