The movie “Goon,” starring Seann William Scott and Liev Schrieber and currently shooting in Winnipeg, may be what we’ve been waiting to see in theaters for decades: a worthy successor to 1977’s “Slapshot.” In Part I of our interview with producer Jesse Shapira of No Trace Camping, he told us about the inspiration for a story he hopes will make us laugh but also honor the sport and its players, gave us a behind the scenes look at the Hollywood meeting that launched the project, and explained why only true hockey fans could make the movie the right way. Now, in Part II, Shapira dishes about what’s happening on set.
GTOG: Have any of the actors impressed you in terms of their hockey skills? Can anybody actually play?
Shapira: A guy by the name of Marc-Andre Grondin plays Xavier LaFlamme, the best player on [the goon] Doug Glatt’s team. We had a pre-shoot skate, and we’re all in the locker room, suiting up. I was with him when he put his gear on. I felt like I was sitting next to, you know, Pat Kane. He looked like a player. Then we step out on the ice, and this guy starts pulling out these ridiculous moves. We asked him to create this French Canadian superstar. And he kind of already is one.
GTOG: What about the guys who never played before?
Shapira: Well, the next guy that comes to mind is Liev Schreiber. He’s just unbelievable. He plays Ross Ray, Doug’s rival and one of the most feared guys ever to play. Originally the charactor was Ross Reardon, now it’s Ross Ray. Anyway, Liev, as an actor and as a player, this guy has basically become [1970’s Flyer enforcer the “Hammer”] Dave Schultz. There’s just not many actors you can cast in this kind of a role. It’s a well recognized problem in Hollywood. Who are you going to believe in this role? We spent, literally, years trying to cast this. We got lucky. I don’t know. People underestimate Liev. He didn’t know how to skate, and now he’s going to impress a lot of people with how great he is.
GTOG: Speaking of guys who are believable in a role, Georges Laraque has a cameo as another one of the toughest guys in the “Goon” league.
Shapira: In keeping with the authenticity we’re going for in the movie, we wanted to cast actual players to portray some of the other goons. Who better? Georges is great. He’s also one of the scariest guys I have ever seen. If you’re going to get one guy, he’s it. If you see him on the ice, actually standing with him on the ice, you think, “There is absolutely no way on earth I would fight that guy.” It made me realize what it must have meant to the Penguins to acquire him. If you took a shot at Sid or Malkin, you had to know Laraque was going to step out the next shift, and somebody would have to answer to him.
GTOG: You think it’s still essential to have a one-dimensional enforcer in the lineup?
Shapira: As long as there’s hockey, there will be a role for enforcers. It’s the nature of the game. It’ll never change. You need to protect your best players. People stand up just as quickly when two guys drop the gloves as when somebody scores. I don’t think any suit in New York can ever change that.
GTOG: You would dress Eric Godard over Mike Comrie.
Shapira: I would dress Eric Godard over Mike Comrie.
GTOG: I would dress Liev Schreiber over Mike Comrie.
GTOG: When do we get to see “Goon” in the theater?
Shapira: We finish shooting in a few weeks. We’ll edit for a few months. We’ve already gotten a lot of interest from U.S. distributors, and we’re going to stay true to our plan. We’re going to work with a distributor who shares our vision. I think there is a huge market for this movie. People love the cast [which also includes Jay Baruchel, Allison Pill, Eugene Levy, and a number of other highly regarded character actors]. It’s a long process, and we’re going to do it the right way.
GTOG: Thanks for your time. Now go punch destiny in the face.