Aside from being one of the most gleefully foul mouthed and down to earth interviews I’ve ever had in my career, Goon co-star and Toronto native Alison Pill is also one of the most courteous. When interviewing her on the day of the hockey comedy’s big premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, the actress became the only person I’ve ever interviewed one on one to offer me a drink and make sure I was comfortable before I started.
Pill brings that same sense of realness and kindness to her latest role. Playing a somewhat promiscuous woman named Eva who cheats on her boyfriend constantly, Pill’s role doesn’t sound all that appealing on paper. However, it’s her character that helps to underline the sweetness and kindness of the film’s main character, a hockey enforcer named Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scoot) who develops a puppy dog crush on Eva. Pill has to juggle some considerable weight between the laughs in this hockey comedy. She has to constantly alternate between being hesitant, caring, dismissive, and concerned towards Doug. It’s definitely not the typical love interest a film like this would normally have.
Pill talked to Dork Shelf about crafting a well rounded female character in an almost all male comedy, acting with Seann William Scott and her fiancée Jay Baruchel, her fear of improv, and why a movie like Goon could only ever debut in Canada.
Did you ever think that at some point in your career that you would ever be doing a sports film?
No, but it’s always shocking everything that comes my way. I mean, I never know or have any idea, but then I read the script for this and to read this character that I find totally believable as a love interest is cool. It’s a chance that doesn’t come up every often.
The love interest role seems like something most actresses would have come their way a lot, but that most of the time they would be pretty dull to play. What do you look for if you’re offered a part like that?
Just a basis in reality first and foremost. (laughs) The fact that in this movie she swears and she’s kind of a slut makes her feel really normal to me. There’s no pedestal for her to deal with. You know, most female love interests are sort of this untouchable and unattainable thing or they’re too perfect or in some cases just really annoying.
You get to be the love interest of Seann William Scott. What was working with him like in this film?
It was really easy! Seann is such a sweet and charming guy. He’s a lot like his character in that he’s one of the nicest guys on the planet. It’s not to be like AWWWW. He’s still really close to his family and his best friend is his dog, and he’s just a real down to Earth guy, so when someone’s that genuinely nice, it’s a lot easier to go about with the building up of the scenes where you have to act like you’re in love.
Jay wrote the movie and was always on set, what was it like having him always there. Was there any added pressure?
Not really. I come from theatre where I was always used to having the playwright in the room every night. I’m accustomed to having to learn my lines in a really specific way and to not fuck around with them, so for me, it’s much MORE comfortable when there’s a writer in the room. I would NEVER claim to be a writer and Dowse would sometimes say “Hey Allison, why don’t you try to improvise a bit?” And I’d be, like, “I’M NOT A WRITER!!!” (laughs) So I was always happy to have him and Evan on set for all of the comedy stuff because they are so brilliant and so funny, and it’s always nice to have them to turn to if what’s written isn’t quite working out. Because they’re really the only one’s who will know how to fix it, you know? It makes life so easy to have so many people invested in one project, and it just makes coming to work every day great.
Between Goon and Scott Pilgrim do you have any fears that you might be pigeonholed into taking all these parts in larger Canadian themed films?
You know, unlike Jay, I love Canada and I love working here, I don’t see that much of a difference in the projects. If something’s good I’ll do it. I think it’s wonderful that Jay is so passionate about the industry here and how he prefers working in Canada to working anywhere else. That’s just how he is. Myself, I’m just, like, (shrugs) “I dunno, just pay me money to act.” (laughs) That’s kind of my way.
The film debuted in Canada at TIFF where it played really well and crowds loved it. What was it like, the experience of being there?
It’s amazing! Because, I mean, let’s be honest, where else could it possibly debut? Fucking Venice? (laughs) I mean is someone in Cannes going to go watch the fucking thing? (laughs) It’s just not going to happen, and it just couldn’t have happened anywhere else. We wanted a Canadian audience to start, and we all know and hope that it’s more universal that that, but at the end of the day it’s FOR Canadians. That was really important. I think the audiences here are really going to enjoy it.