Though he first got his start on set at age 12, Jay Baruchel has dreamed of directing a feature film since he was nine years old. Baruchel is set to accomplish his goal 25 years later as the director of Goon: Last of the Enforcers, the sequel to the 2011 hard-hitting hockey comedy he co-wrote, co-produced and starred in.
While the fit seems perfectly natural for Baruchel, he's the first to admit he never imagined himself in the role, having written the film with original director Michael Dowse in mind.
"Regardless of how I saw this sequel in my head, I thought it was always Dowse's film," Baruchel says. "When he wasn't able to do it, [Seann William Scott], [Marc-André Grondin] and another producer asked me. There was no time required to think on it."
Despite his years of industry experience both in Canada and the U.S., Baruchel first felt he needed to earn the respect of his cast and crew as a rookie director.
"That was something that was important for me," he reflects. "I needed to communicate as best I could that these people were in safe hands, and that I had a vision for the movie. Whatever tolerance or respect my career as an actor might get me, that runs out. I needed to show people that — for lack of a better term — I knew what I was doing."
Baruchel says the greatest challenge he faced in his directorial debut was delivering a sequel to a movie people loved. With comedic looks at an enforcer's post-fighting career and overbearing hockey parents, on top of the gratuitous on-ice brawling, fans of the first film will surely enjoy it.
"There are people getting Goon quotes and characters tattooed onto various body parts; that's not lost on us," Baruchel explains. "We didn't rush this out a year or two after the first one. Our characters deserve it and our fans deserve it."
With Last of the Enforcers set to hit Canadian theatres on March 17, Baruchel now has more time to watch his Montreal Canadiens chase down both an NHL conference title and playoff berth this season.
"Though I like Claude Julien as a coach, I'm still incredibly bitter over the trade last summer with [P.K. Subban]," he says with a laugh. "I have a chip on my shoulder about it, but onwards and upwards!"