“You show up on set and you look over here and there’s Kurt Russell and there’s Terence Stamp,” says Jay Baruchel of shooting his new film the Art of the Steal, “and you think, ‘I have a pretty cool gig.’”
The heist film sees Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon as Crunch and Nicky Calhoun, brothers and art thieves who haven’t worked together since Nicky snitched on Crunch and sent him to prison. Years later they team up to steal one of the world’s rarest books, but will the job lead to more double-crossing?
Baruchel co-stars in this twisty-turny movie as Crunch’s sidekick and protégé, which meant he got to spend a great deal of time with Russell.
“It’s one of these things where if we didn’t get along at all we would find a way to fake it but what really helped is that we were two Chatty Cathys. I would ask him every conceivable thing. Every John Carpenter story. Stuff about Tango and Cash. Stuff about Tombstone, one of my very favorite movies of all time.
“He was cool to talk about all of it so whenever cut was called Kurt and I would go outside and have a cigarette and talk. We talked about everything. We talked about politics. We talked movies, sports. He’s a Canadian-O-Phile as well, so the man has some real Canadian bone fides. So when it comes time to say action, there’s an energy, a connection, a shorthand because we enjoy one another’s company.
“It can be faked, but it’s way less fun and way more work.”
Working with one of his heroes wasn’t the only reason Baruchel signed on.
“Like any job I take, I look at the opportunity,” he says. “I look at who I’m going to work with, what it’s about and where it’s going to be and would I pay money to see it. This checked every box on my criteria.”
Chief among those yardsticks is a strong Canadian element. The actor is a vocal supporter of the homegrown industry who says, “We need to make more movies here that take place here and we not hide our Canadian-ness.”
The Art of the Steal fits the bill. It was shot in Niagara Falls, a place he calls “a very specific part of the world, equal parts gorgeous and seedy and strange and disarming. The whole thing is a back lot. You put a camera there anywhere and you have production value up your ass.”