Don’t beat yourself up if you end up liking Seann William Scott in his latest role as a hockey goon.
It’s bound to become a guilty pleasure, in the “Slap Shot” tradition, knowing the essence of the game really isn’t like all the blood and loose teeth that it portrays, but there’s some humanity and honor in what goes into the role of the fabled enforcer.
“Goon” (linked here) reinforces that.
The 35-year-old Scott might be best known as Stifler from the “American Pie” movies (another sequel is coming out next month), but he’s got another pop-culture foothold now as Doug “The Thug” Glatt, a bar bouncer who his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel, also one of the co-writers) says has a fist “the size of my Uncle Murray’s prostate.”
Glatt gets a personal invitation by the coach of a Boston-area minor-league hockey team after a player comes into the stands chasing a heckler — and then gets the heck beat out of him by Glatt.
A soft-hearted, loyal soul simply looking for a purpose in his life, Glatt makes the completely unlikely transformation to accidental goon, a job he comes to embrace and understand – he’s not there to play hockey, just prevent cheap shots.
It builds to a climatic, “Rocky”-like moment when he encounters soon-to-be retiring thug Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber), a brawl orchestrated to the unlikely strains of Puccini’s famous opera Turandot (you’ll recognize it when you hear it, linked here).
“Goon,” which has already been a top box-office draw in Canada, went to video on demand in the states late in February and finally reaches U.S. theatres this Friday, may be better explained by Scott in this Q-and-A:
Q: How do you describe “Goon” in 25 words or less when people ask about it?
A: I cop out. I say, ‘Dude, it’s “Slap Shot” meets “Fight Club” with a little bit of “Forrest Gump.”
Q: Do you have any doubt it’ll become a guilty-pleasure, cult classic, like “Slap Shot,” if it’s not already?
A: I’m surprised how each time I watch it – and I’ve seen it three times now — I get something different out of it. One of things that could make it possible to have that kind of a cult following is there’s a lot of great one-liners. I like how the players and coaches, the captain who has (crap) he saying about his wife, the whole running joke about his divorce. F—king hilarious! That kind of raw (crap) that I dig. I’ve done a lot of movies where there’s this kind of formulaic genre where you’re just trying to make the best kind of comedy and there’s a lot of rehashed concepts, but this is one where even if you don’t like hockey – and when I saw ‘Slap Shot,’ I don’t think I knew hockey but I f–king love the film — you’ll be into this. What’s interesting about “Goon” is you don’t have to know a whole lot about hockey to appreciate the movie. It’s got heart, it’s brutal, super funny, a bit of an edge, and there’s a romance. And we’ve got divorced guys playing against us.
Q: Well, the phrase “we gotta play gay-porn hard” is something you’ll probably hear now in a lot of adult hockey leagues when there’s a close game and a need to rally.
A: I know. Maybe it’s weird because I’m also doing a lot of promotion for the new “American Reunion,” while I’m also doing stuff for “Goon,” two movies at the same time. And I’m thinking that when we did “Goon,” I really wasn’t in comedy mode. I wanted to approach the character as not thinking about delivering a joke, not playing it for laughs. So because of that, I wasn’t picking up on really funny the (crap) was around me. Like, I knew Baruchel’s lines were hilarious, and there were little jokes here and there that were funny, but I wasn’t even thinking about it. But I watch it now and, wow, even the one locker room scene where there are the lines about “E.T.” … Usually I can pick up when things are pretty funny and I love to laugh, but I didn’t know the line like ‘We can all phone home together’ or ‘have that light in our stomach” (crap) was so hilarious. It was more like, ‘What kind of a movie are we making here?’
Q: So you must have believed it, by staying character, that you had to trust the script to carry the humor without you knowing how much of it was really there?
A: Yeah, the way Doug is earnest in how he works to embrace this role really benefits the way the comedy plays out. I can shout, ‘Let’s play gay-porn hard,’ and then I’m like, ‘OK, I don’t know what we just did there,’ but when I watched it, Doug actually is fired up about ‘gay-porn hard,’ even if I didn’t understand what they were talking about. He doesn’t even know what he’s shouting but he just knows it’s a battle cry and he stays in the moment. There’s so much weird (crap) in the movie, and it’s all really funny once you see it again.
Q: Well, he is sensative to the word ‘gay’ because his brother is gay in the movie, but it’s not the same thing, obviously.
A: Maybe that’s why he’s excited! It’s used in a positive way. That’s funny.
Q: Did you see the mention about the movie recently in Sports Illustrated about how the film may be treading thin ice, coming out a time when hockey has serious problems with concussion issues? There was another reviewer from the Vancouver Sun that called it a “92-minute misconduct.” Does that affect the way you embrace it still or think it will have an effect on how others look at it now?
A: Well, not so much because I wasn’t thinking about that. Obviously, there’s been tons of injuries and it’s been a topic in hockey for a long time. But when we made the movie, it was before the recent tragedies so. Maybe it’s just me being nave and a bit uninformed. For me, Liev always seems to have the best answers to those kinds of questions, he’s wildly intelligent, and he and Jay have both said that people who are either pro-fighting or anti-fighting feel like the movie was made for them. I just cared that we were making a f—ing entertaining movie. That’s all I cared about. I don’t know enough of the history of it all. One of my best friends had a major injury in hockey, but it had nothing to do with fighting. It could come as a result of a cheap shot, or just because the sport is so intense. You’re going to get injured. I hope people will just check out the film. We’re not trying to make some kind of statement. At least that’s what I took away from it. It’s made out of respect for the game. I don’t think it has an opinion one way or another. I know Baruchel has pointed out that Wayne Gretzky might not have had the kind of numbers put up in his career without his guys watching out for him. They worry if there aren’t enforcers who do what they do in the game, there might be more cheap shots and injuries. My opinion? I don’t f—-kin’ know. I just hope people like the movie. We’re just making a movie, not making a statement.
Q: It’s not as if the film doesn’t address it, right? In the scene where Glatt and his father (Eugene Levy) are arguing over the merits of a hockey goon, the dad says: “Have you given any thought at all to the head injuries that come with playing with such a violent sport? The concussions?” But Glatt has what seems to be an acceptable answer: Sure, but this is what I do best.
A: Right, that’s probably a moment that works, and there’s the scene where Liev captures so well with his character is explaining how, if there’s anything to take away from what guys in that position may deal with – they’re being asked to fight and not considered hockey players. In that respect, it is handled with sensitivity. Liev has that line about how “nobody applauds the soldiers when they come home from battle.” So it does deal with the kind of (crap) warriors have to put up with – you’re at the end of your career and you’re not hearing people cheer for you. It handles it well. At the end of the day, we’re shouting things about “gay-porn hard” so clearly, we’re not making a statement. You know? We’ve had some interviews were I’ve sat back. I don’t know enough to make an intelligent statement about it. They’re hockey guys and they understand. I’m just like, we’re talking about “E.T.” I was just trying to make sure I didn’t ruin the movie.
Q: As a Minnesota native, it’s incredible to read from previous interviews that you weren’t much of a hockey player growing up. Explain the extent of your hockey career?
A: It pretty much started and ended when I was six. I was terrible and I mouthed off to an older guy while we were in the warming house – we were playing outdoor hockey – and he slammed the (crap) out of my head against the wall. And I was like, ‘Hockey sucks.’ But my dad never played hockey. I just watched my friends play while I was playing baseball, basketball and football. With this movie, I knew based on the script, if the guy was supposed to be an awesome player I would have gone to training like six months before. I knew I could skate enough to really just to get a good base so I stand on skates, and we practiced a little a month before, and what you see in the movie is the best I could give it.
Q: And seeing you Klatt come out on the ice for the first time in a pair of white figure skates were perfect.
A: That wasn’t my idea but I probably would have brought those anyway thinking that was what I needed.
Q: About those fight scenes: They must have left you pretty black and blue, even with all the extra movie blood used.
A: All the hockey stuff was filmed at night when we could get the rink, so we were shooting from midnight to noon, with the fights were at 3 or 4 in the morning. Liev said when he was filming ‘Wolverine,’ they’d rehearse all the fight scenes three months before shooting. But we didn’t have that luxury. I knew I’d benefit from me doing all the stunts I could with the time we had, and we had a great stunt team, but we didn’t have any real rehearsal times. But (director) Mike (Dowse) knew how he wanted the fights to look, with a real frenetic type of wild energy. So we didn’t over-rehearse and over-shoot scenes, trying to capture different angles for different fights like some martial arts movie and cut it all later. He wanted it to look like real hockey fights.
Dude, it was brutal. I had a feeling they were looking awesome and real. We did land some punches. I’m surprised no one got seriously injured. And there were times I’d be frustrated and exhausted and thinking, ‘Man, it doesn’t have to be this intense.’ But it was. And they had a master plan.
Q: The final scene with Glatt versus Rhea – how intense was it?
A: It was strange doing a fight scene with an actor who is one of my favorites, having done of the coolest fight and action scenes in movie history, who is three inches taller than me, and I’m not doing a scene with a stunt guy or an ex-hockey player, where some of the fights you see in the movie earlier on where they know I’m going to win and I should be looking better than then. We both wanted to look legitimate and (Schreiber) is giving some serious energy on his end.
It was intense, man, but I had a feeling that because it was so wild and aggressive that we captured it. In that last scene, every time I see it, I’m still tense and I know I’m in the movie and I win. It took a month or two to recover. But now I see it and I think, ‘There’s my comic book hero movie.’ I mean, I’m never going to get offered a D.C. Comic film, or Spiderman or Batman. Hey, I’m Doug Glatt, the guy who gets beat up and gets back up on his skates and keeps throwing punches. I like that guy better.
Q: The laundry bill must have been insane with trying to get all the blood off the jerseys.
A: I wanted to add as much as possible. Every punch, there’d be more blood spit out, and it did look really cool, but I think they told me to scale it back a bit, like, ‘Dude, we’re not making a horror film.’ I was just trying to get all the movie genres in there for films I’ll never get a chance to be in — because I’ll always be known as Stifler — into one movie. It’s like ‘Raging Bull’ and a super hero and a horror film.
Q: And putting it all to operatic music is brilliant, too.
A: Oh, yeah, when I first saw a first cut of it, I was like, ‘You’ve got to keep that in there.’ That was awesome.
Q: Are you trying to channel anyone to play this character named Doug Glatt? Anyone you’ve seen play or wanted to imitate?
A: You know what, that’s a good question, because some people asked me if I sat down and talked to any enforcers to prepare for this. But this guy (Glatt) is new to the sport so it wouldn’t make sense for me to meet those guys because he loves hockey but doesn’t know a ton about the sport. Truth is, Jay and Evan Goldberg wrote such a specific character where for me, it was the first time since “The Promotion” where it was pretty much laid out there and any questions I had I was able to go to Mike and Jay. I kind of had an interpretation that I wanted to offer based on what was written. So it was nice that I didn’t have to create something or try to make a scene better. In a lot of these comedies you just go in and say, “F–k, I don’t know how this movie’s gonna turn out,” so you’re taking it one scene at a time, trying to make the scene funnier. This was like the most legitimate movie next to “The Promotion” (the 2008 comedy with John C. Reilly) where it was a real character. Some could argue he’s only one dimensional because he’s not bright, but he’s a real guy who sees things in black and white, not that book smart, but a good perspective on life. So I wasn’t thinking of anyone I’ve known, I just used what they’d written and used my interpretation of that.
Q: When you see a fight now in an NHL game, can you appreciate it more for the non-choreographed nature of how it plays out?
A: Oh, my God, yeah, man. I remember as a kid I’d love to go to the games and I could appreciate it for that, but I was waiting for the fight. And until I started preparing for this movie, I didn’t know about the hockey fight websites. I missed out on some insane historical fights. I was like, ‘Why don’t these guys try to block these punches?’ That tells you how much I know about hockey. These guys are just whaling away on each other. They’re warriors. Yeah, man, like even though ours’ is make believe and I think as aggressive as it can for most fight scenes, I don’t know how they do it. Even just talking to Georges Laraque (the former NHL player who makes an appearance in the movie’s opening scene fight), and, man, it’s unbelievable. There’s no other sport where they just pound each other. And the other thing I find is how some of these guys, from my limited knowledge, is how kind they are, but sweethearts, kind of like Doug. They even say, ‘Nice fight.’ What! They just threw a hundred punches at each other’s head and it’s like, ‘Nice job.’ I love it.
That fight scene where Georges and I have was taken from a real situation. He was miked up and they had a fight after one of them said, ‘Hey, you wanna go?’ And the other guy was, ‘Yeah, sure.’
Q: Do you get out to many Kings or Ducks games when you’re out here?
A: I’ve gone to a few but just for working and stuff I haven’t got a chance to see many lately. I wanted to see Jeremy Lin playing for the Knicks, but now I’ve got to say that I’m back in L.A., I can’t wait to go to some Kings games now that I know a little bit more. I’m always saying, ‘man you really gotta go to the games, TV does not always capture it at all.’ Unless you really know the sport and how to take from TV what’s really happening, to go to a game now it’s pretty great. I’ll end up being a die-hard fan.
Q: But you’re not ready to join any of the Hollywood celebrity hockey leagues in town with Jerry Bruckheimer and those guys, are you?
A: (Laughing) No way, man. I can’t skate backwards. I can’t even stop. I have to skate into other people. The shots in the movie where I’m falling – that’s not on purpose. I was like, ‘Thanks guys,’ but that’s really me falling. It wasn’t written into there. If those guys see me in the movie, that’s as good as I get. I wasn’t acting like I skated poorly. That’s me being the best I can be. Unless they need an enforcer. Can you imagine if I got into a fight with Jerry Bruckheimer? Aw, that would be awful. He’d probably beat the (crap) out of me. I should call him up and tell him if he needs me on the ice, I could protect him. But I’d be so embarrassed. I would never turn down an invitation, but then I get out there with my own little figure skates on.
Q: But then, if they do another remake of “Slap Shot,” maybe you’d be up for that.
A: I don’t know. That’s the holy grail of hockey films. They better leave that one alone. You know what’s crazy, the Hansen Brothers were at the “Goon” premiere in New York – sweetest guys ever, and they’re from Minnesota. They grew up 10 minutes from me. They were f—king hilarious. Holy (crap). The Hansen Brothers are going to be my friends.
Q: Maybe you can hang around long enough to do the “Marty McSorley Story” on the silver screen some day.
A: I don’t know, man. I barely came out alive in “Goon.” I’ll probably have to just leave it at that.