Heading into UK cinemas today is the ultra-violent, surprisingly sweet ice hockey comedy, Goon. It gives Seann William Scott, best known for his role as Stifler in the American Pie films, a big leading role, and he doesn’t waste it. And he sat down with us for a natter about it…Let’s start with Goon, then. It’s a nice surprise of a film, and a breathtakingly violent one! It struck me that you were keen to be authentic to the sport of ice hockey here – there’s a sense of Any Given Sunday in the sporting sequences. Can you give us a flavour of how you went about capturing the sheer intensity of the matches themselves?
Real credit to the director, who’s a hockey fan. And also to Jay Baruschel and Evan Goldberg. When they were writing it, they really wanted to capture that. Even though I grew up in Minnesota, I didn’t play hockey. I played three other sports. So they knew all the little details and the things that were crucial to making it feel real.
But the fighting? That felt pretty real, even when we were doing it. Credit to the director, again. I was kind of, I’d seen how other films had shot fights. You break it down. This one, they wanted to keep it moving, and make it feel like it was on skates. I thought man, this feels really intense, maybe unnecessarily. But when you watch it? The director had a masterplan. He knew it had to feel that kinetic.
I wrote it down here, that the action material seems to have been done in long takes.
Exactly. And that was the thing. As an actor, I was exhausted. It was a different kind of fighting. Even though we didn’t always land punches, it was physical. There would be times when they’d be he’s going to throw seven punches, you’re going to throw ten. We’d do one walkthrough of it, and then we’d shoot it! It felt pretty crazy.
You should do a Bourne movie next. It’ll be a piece of piss after this.
Yeah, right! [Laughs]
Did you get any war wounds from all the fighting?
I got lucky! I felt pretty bruised up. My back was off for a while, but no, I was fine!
It feels like the whole film builds up to the Ivan Drago moment, when you and Liev Schreiber take to the ice.
Right, right. And that was intense!
How did that one differ?
He’s just a really strong guy. We knew it was going to be a big fight, and we knew it had to be physical. If I’m shooting a fight scene with other guys, and I know I have to kick their ass, maybe a stunt guy, they’re going to let me throw them around a little bit more. Here, you had two actors, who both want to look good, and [Liev’s] just an awesome method actor. He’s not joking around!
Oh man. After two days, I think we shot it after two days, I was exhausted. I think I lost about five pounds.
Could you beat Liev in an arm wrestle?
No way, no. I feel like I’m a pretty strong guy, but he’s a really strong dude.
Your role in guy is a bit of a contrast to some of the stuff you’ve done before. The role of Doug is one of a really sweet guy at heart, and a lot of your roles don’t have too much sweetness to them. Also, you’re anchoring the film. A lot of your films have been more ensemble driven, but you’re front and centre of Goon. If we don’t buy you, the rest of the film doesn’t work.
Yeah, I was worried about that.
Did you feel that on your shoulders?
I wanted the opportunity, and I was searching for something that allowed me to act a little more.
There’s a film you did called The Promotion which I keep having recommended to me, but can’t get hold of…
Yeah, that’s a pretty good movie. Full credit to that director, that’s a really great film.
I was always a bit concern when I was filming Goon, I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t too dumb. The director knew what he wanted, because Doug’s a good guy, and he means well. Other than The Promotion, it was the first time really working with a director, even with Jay too, asking questions. And when I watched it, it all came off. I think that’s why you can get away with the violence in the fights. If he wasn’t so sweet, then he’s just another guy beating people up. You wouldn’t really like him.
I think the director really had a masterplan as to how to use the character effectively. I never stressed myself out too much about being the lead in the movie, and it not working if I didn’t work. I’ve done movies when I didn’t do a very good job and nobody saw it.
Well, I maybe did the best that I could, but there’s a movie called Train Wreck that never really came out. And Gary The Tennis Coach. I could have been better, I could have done a better job.
But then you land something like Role Models…
It’s a great movie. It’s the evolution of where you were eight or nine years ago, but with a more leading role. Please make a Role Models 2.
I’d like that! It’d be great! And you know the funny thing about that, when we were making that movie, we would laugh, but I had no idea it was going to be as funny as when I saw it. We improvised a lot.
About 50 per cent of it was improvised, I read?
Yeah. And you don’t really know sometimes… there are moments in improvising that feel good, but you don’t know. But that little kid in Role Models was great…
“Fuck you, Ben Affleck!“
Yeah! You see that, and you think it might not be that funny, that you’re white, so you’re Ben Affleck. Then you see it in the movie, and you think that’s fucking great! Or when he goes “Fuck you, Miss Daisy”. It’s a great line.
Was it you who got Eugene Levy involved with Goon, out of interest?
You know what, it wasn’t. I don’t know if it was Jay or the director’s idea. I was so excited, obviously, because I’m a huge fan. But I wondered if people were going to be distracted by he and I playing father and son, because of American Pie. Credit to him, because he’s such an awesome actor, it was cool to see him play such a straight role. Even though he’s funny, he’s still really tough.
Have you seen Waiting For Guffman? I think that’s him at his finest.
Awww… Best In Show, too.
I think Guffman beats Show.
Yeah, yeah. You know that audition scene? He said that was like a real audition. Christopher Guest said come in and think what you would do to audition for this. It was all his stuff, the sing-songs.
One last question, though. Where are you up to with it? You’ve got American Reunion in April…
Yeah. Honestly, that movie ended up so good, and it was such a fun thing to do. As much as I want to do different kind of movies, I really love that character, and I’d love to do another one. I don’t know what the idea would be, but the movie was awesome.
What’s great about it, is that they’re adults now. You don’t have to like American Pie to enjoy this. If you enjoy Role Models, or the Apatow films, this kind of fits in there. These guys are now adults, and it’s more relatable things. I think it’s going to be great.
Seann William Scott, thank you very much…