Jay Baruchel interview

With Goon: Last of the Enforcers, actor and writer Jay Baruchel makes his feature directorial debut. He previously directed an episode of Trailer Park Boys and a short film, Edgar and Jane, but the very first Jay Baruchel film is the sequel to a beloved sports comedy he co-wrote. In the Goon sequel, which arrives five years after the first movie, the fights are bloodier, the fighters are more tired, and the future is less bright.

Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott) finally found his calling in Goon. In the sequel, his days are numbered on the ice, so the lovable goon with a massive fist finds himself lost again. Baruchel doesn’t forget the laughs, of course, but as he pointed out in our interview, hockey is changing for the enforcers, with fights dropping in the NHL. That sea change is a part of Goon: Last of the Enforcers, which Baruchel was happy to discuss along with how the sequel evolved and died twice, writing the legendary Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), and all the well-deserved love for the first Goon.

Below, check out our Jay Baruchel interview.

When did you first notice the passion people have for Goon? Was it right when it came out or later?

It depends, because the movie had different lives depending on what country it was in. Like in Canada, we first premiered at TIFF and we got a big ass standing ovation. And then we opened up across the country theatrically at number one, which just doesn’t fucking happen for a Canadian film in Canada. It never happens, but we were number one that weekend. In Canada, we’re sort of a big hit. In the States, we became this kind of cult film, like Donnie Darko or Boondock Saints or something, and that just happened over time.

More and more, it’s a movie that people have found down there and keep finding, and that’s kind of a neat thing. It means a lot to us and it tells us that we did our jobs because five years after the fact, people are watching and in love with it and then falling in love with the culture and fandom around it. I have theories about why it became what it became in the States. But I try not to overthink it. I’m just psyched the movie means what it means to people. We were proud of it, but we’re also a bunch of very pragmatic Canadian, so we never assume the best case scenario in any situation.

[Laughs] I know you said you don’t like to overthink why the movie was received the way it was in the States, but I wouldn’t mind hearing your theories.

Well, number one, I think that the people in the States that found the movie were hockey fans, and I think that American hockey fans are used to being…There’s a degree of punk rock and black sheep in being a hockey fan in the States. Just the fact that it’s not number 1, not number 2, not number 3, but I think it’s the fourth most popular sport. It could be fifth or something after NASCAR, basketball, football, and baseball. So there’s already that degree of kind of underdog-ness in being just a hockey fan in the States. And so here comes this movie that feels handmade and dirty and real and it’s for you.

I think that it became something of a badge of honor to a very rich, proud community in American hockey fans. And then I think the next group of people to find it were film nerd-type people. It’s that rare movie that gets love from, for lack of a better term, average people, regular people as it does their kind of critics intelligentsia, you know, and I think that the two things eventually kind of connected and then it just kept growing. And it’s really, really nice because it’s a lot of people’s fucking favorite film [Laughs]. That’s like, man, that’s special. It’s really, really special.

I think a part of it is you feel love for hockey in both movies. You know it’s not just a work for hire director making a hockey movie; it’s made by hockey fans for hockey fans.

All right, thank you so much. That’s what we hope. I think that the movie wears its heart and its origins on its sleeve. I think people have very good bullshit meters, and that’s not to say some really good movies don’t come from a work for hire director or that sort of his situation, but that’s not what this was. It was born of passion and respect and love and admiration for a game and a culture that means a lot to all of us. You do feel that. We’re never disrespectful, as edgy or dirty as we might get. We’re never disrespectful to our characters to the world that it takes place in art or to our fans.

Was it during the making of the first film or afterward that talk began of making a sequel? 

One day one of shooting in Winnipeg, on the first one, I remember… Jesse [Chabot], my writing partner, and I were in an apartment with our friend Ricky, who played Stevenson in the first film. The three of us got back to the apartment after the first day and went, “Holy fuck, I think we might be onto something here.” There’s just something that happens, and you can’t always find a word for it, but it’s rare for you to be on a set full of people that the vast majority of whom seem to see the same movie and seem to care about it as much as you do. That doesn’t happen very often. It was a combination of the fact that we all enjoy each other’s company and made each other better and respected each other as artists. There was such a selfless, awesome team vibe to our ensemble in the first film. I’ve been in ensembles where it’s just sort of something of a pissing contest, and that can yield great, funny results but it’s very Darwinistic and very competitive. With Goon and Goon 2, no, every single actor wanted the person next to them to look better than they did. We all set each other up.

It’s hard not to be inspired [by that experience], and then by the time the film ended, we were like, “Fuck, I think we’ve got to do this again. We feel like we’re just scratching the surface.” A testament to that is we made a whole other movie, and there’s still like three other massive, whole stories we’ve fleshed out. In addition to at least half a dozen other characters and then about a dozen different jokes and potential arcs for all of the team. We still have way more story than we were able to fit in two movies.

I was going to ask if you all see this as a trilogy, but it sounds like you might want to go beyond a trilogy. 

It has to be organic, but I will say this, we have a very deep world we’re very proud of. If the world wants us to, we’d do it again in a heartbeat. We know exactly what we would do. Given a chance, we could do this for a while, or just hold off for 15 years and come back and do the third one, which if we got to, would be about Doug and Eva’s daughter. It’d be a fucked up cross between Heathers and The Mighty Ducks. It’s a teen high school comedy about how hard it is to come of age, how hard it is to be a girl in high school, especially when you’re six-foot-two, and you’re the hardest hockey player on the team for the boys. I think that could be something awesome. There are about four other arcs between number two and that one we’d like to tell.

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