Goon tells the story of average-Joe Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a bouncer who finds himself chosen to be the new enforcer of a minor league team hockey team after defending his friend at a game. This doesn’t sit well with veteran enforcer Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber), who struggles to maintain his relevancy in a game he’s past his prime in. Ross is constantly seeking opportunities to put Doug back in his place. Goon is a rookie’s tale of fitting in in a world he only became a part of by luck.
Campus Circle sat down for a Q&A session with Scott and his co-star Jay Baruchel, who also screenwrote the film.
Q: Jay Baruchel had a love of hockey coming into this project. [To Seann William Scott] Did you also have as great a passion for it?
Seann William Scott: It is not possible. I don't think it's possible to have a love for a sport –any sport –as much as he has for hockey. I knew baseball, basketball and football, so I'm still kind of new to the game. But I love it now, I just can't play it. I'm terrible.
Q: [To Baruchel] You’ve always wanted to write a Canadian ice hockey story. Why didn’t you take on a character that played hockey?
Jay Baruchel: Because I'm terrible at hockey! (laughs) And why would I want to show people how shitty I am at skating? And, who would buy me as a fucking hockey player? Fandom doesn't necessarily mean that I love playing the game. I do quite like skating and I like being out there with my friends a little bit, but I don't do it very often. I just love the game. I'm a Montrealer: that's where I was raised, that's where I still live; it's where I'll be for the rest of my life. When you're there, you “drink the Kool-Aid,” and [ice hockey] is just your favorite thing. For me to make movies in Canada is my life's dream and my life's ambition, so to get to make a movie in Canada about fucking hockey, specifically, it's like I could retire tomorrow.
Q: How did it feel to play a character that is very unlike Stifler from American Pie or any of the characters you often are seen portraying?
SWS: It was everything for me. The character is rich with qualities that I loved, being a sweet, good, quiet guy. It was easier, in a way, where you don't have the stress [of trying to be funny]. He was funny without trying to be funny.
Q: The bar for hockey comedies was set three-plus decades ago by Slap Shot. How much of Goon was a response in the tradition of what Slap Shot achieved?
JB: [As] a hockey fan, you can never disconnect from Slap Shot. That being said, it's a nightmare to try to recreate something. We always knew in the best case scenario, this would end up being to our generation what that [movie] was to that one. It was a reaction to how shitty hockey's been [portrayed] since then in movies: the lack of space, the speed that the boys are going at, the size of the boys themselves, how small the puck is. It's always been too precious, too stayed, too slow, too fucking stagy and fake. We had our list of things that we needed to nail, and if we didn't nail we should just pack up and go home because there's no point to make this bloody movie. We needed the hockey to be the best that it's ever been in a movie. We needed our fights to be as strong as fuck –and not just for hockey fights, for any fight. We wanted to go toe-to-toe with any fight that a movie's had in the past 20 years. We wanted it to be truthful. We just wanted it to be as exhilarating, as horrifying, as inspiring, as beautiful –this combination of things. Hockey’s nothing if not a confluence of phenomenon and emotions.
Q: [To Scott] What kind of training did you have to go through in order to skate while keeping your body weight up so it had a hockey player bulkiness?
SWS: I ate a lot.
JB: You ate a lot of sandwiches.
SWS: I was. (laughs) Yeah, I was eating a lot. I practiced skating a bit before we started shooting, but most of the time I spent on the ice was when we were shooting the film. It's pretty easy for me to bulk up. I had to change my routine a little bit [and] not work out as much actually.
Q: Liev Schreiber’s character Ross seems to judge his self-worth by how others perceive him, while Doug seems to be able to see past the value others give him. Would you say that’s true? And how would you describe the dynamic between the two of them?
JB: That's a great observation. In any profession, you'll have guys at the tail end of it and you'll have guys just starting out, and there's often a huge chasm of difference in philosophy between them. What I love about the dynamic between those two is you have Ross, who's basically trying to save Doug from the heartbreak that he's had to deal with, because he went in with pure intentions and ended up having to be this thing that he's not psyched about being. Then you have Doug starting out, who lights the fire under his ass and says, okay, yeah that's one jaded fucking perception of this, but, I'm kind of psyched about what I do. You think what we do is shit, I think what we do is beautiful. And they meet each other halfway.
Goon is now playing.