‘Goon’ sequel takes characters to dark places

Actor Jay Baruchel arrives for a press conference in Montreal, Thursday, July 4, 2013, to announce details of his upcoming 'Jay Baruchel Gala', at this year's Just for Laughs comedy festival.
Actor Jay Baruchel arrives for a press conference in Montreal, Thursday, July 4, 2013, to announce details of his upcoming 'Jay Baruchel Gala', at this year's Just for Laughs comedy festival. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – It’s numbingly humid outside, the Stanley Cup has been decided and the NHL’s stars are shining on the golf course. Yet hockey is not far from Jay Baruchel’s mind.

Specifically, getting the sequel to Goon, his popular movie ode to hockey, before the cameras.

“We’re furiously typing away,” Baruchel said of himself and writing partner Jesse Chabot. “If all goes according to plan, we’ll be shooting this time next year.”

Goon, which came out in 2011, starred Seann William Scott as a dim but well-meaning bouncer whose skill at throwing and taking punches lands him a spot as the resident enforcer on a minor-league hockey team.

Baruchel, a hockey-mad Montrealer, co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in Goon and says he’s proud of how the sequel is coming together.

“I’m proud as hell of the first one but I think we’re going to smoke it with No. 2,” Baruchel said Thursday as he promoted a July 25 show he will host at the Just for Laughs comedy festival.

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While fans can expect “all the stuff you loved from the first one and then some,” Baruchel says Goon 2 will have “a bit more gravitas” and be a bit darker.

The first Goon examined how the characters find their place in the world. Baruchel says the second film looks at what happens when that discovery has a price attached.

That will see characters being taken to places nobody would have guessed after watching the original, he says.

“We’re really, really excited and proud of it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s better than the first one already.”

Working on the Goon sequel is only one of the things on the crowded plate of the young Montreal actor, who has worked alongside screen icons such as Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.

He is in the reboot of the futuristic cop drama RoboCop, which filmed in Toronto last year and is now in post-production for release next year. Baruchel, who admits he is choosy about his roles, says he jumped at the chance to play one of the corporate bigwigs in the company that makes money off law enforcement.

“I leapt at the chance to get to work with Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton,” he said. ”Oldman’s a bona fide hero of mine and Keaton’s movies raised me.

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“To go work with heroes of mine, it was a special, special thing.”

He even enjoyed working in Canada’s biggest city, despite being raised by parents who were full-on into the Montreal-Toronto rivalry.

“I was raised to hate it (Toronto),” he said jokingly. “And I kind of fell in love with it. It’s not Montreal, obviously, but compared to the Toronto I was led to believe exists by my parents, it’s actually kind of a nice place.”

As for hosting the spotlight show at the comedy festival later this month, Baruchel says that kind of effort involves “a different discipline.”

Asked what he’s doing to prepare, he quipped, “Not as much as I should.”

The unpretentious Baruchel, who shows plenty of wit both on and off screen, has no trouble reeling off the names of comedians he finds funny, including classic funnyman Buster Keaton, Canada’s Kids in the Hall, Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame as well as Britain’s Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) and Ricky Gervais.

He’s well aware of the challenges of doing live comedy.

“You get your one shot per joke and there’s not a lot of wiggle room,” he said.

The comedians will be the ones doing the heavy lifting at the Just For Laughs show, Baruchel says, although he and Chabot will contribute some bits for his segments. That’s as close as he’ll get to a career in standup comedy.

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“It would require too much prep time and energy,” he said. “If I’m not in my pyjama pants on my couch, I’m outside of my comfort zone.”

The Just For Laughs appearance is the latest stage performance for Baruchel, who recently received rave reviews for starring in a Montreal production of Sherlock Holmes.

“It was awesome, enthralling, exhilarating, horrifying, exhausting,” he said, adding doing the play was a “different kettle of fish completely” from what he usually does.

“Different discipline, flexing muscles that I haven’t used ever and an amazing learning experience,” he said.

“I got to make some really great friends and I know as an actor and a writer I’m better for having done that.”

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