Goon - Seann William Scott - Featured

Interview: Seann William Scott

Goon - Seann William Scott

Seann William Scott is Doug “The Thug” Glatt. In his latest film, Goon, the man best known for playing raging, hyperactive frat boy types on screen, finally gets a chance to showcase a truer side of himself. Off screen, Scott is a bashful, self-effacing, down to earth guy with a sunny disposition about life and a great sense of humour. His on-screen alter ego here looks and acts much the same way that the actor does in person, but Doug Glatt could actually kick your ass if you hurt one of his minor league hockey teammates.

While that might be surprising to some who probably know him best for playing the disreputable Stiffler in the American Pie series (a role he will return to late this year after almost a decade in the franchise’s fourth theatrical outing, American Reunion), what might be even more surprising is just how much of a movie loving nerd Scott is. Talking to him about his start as a lowly movie theatre worker who was inspired to become an actor, one quickly realizes his deep love for film and a man constantly amazed and humbled by what he does for a living. Once you start talking to him about a particular movie he’s seen, it’s almost hard to get him to stop. For a fellow film buff, that’s a really admirable quality.

Dork Shelf had the pleasure of sitting down with Scott to talk about playing a nice guy for a change, his fears about how he would look as a hockey player, and just where the heck our sequel to The Rundown is.

Dork Shelf: I see the tattoo on your wrist and forearm is real and not something they made up for the movie.

Seann William Scott: Haha! You know, it’s funny, because it doesn’t really seem all that appropriate for my character in Goon to have them, but we just didn’t have the budget for me to get there early so we could cover them up. (laughs) Apparently this super sweet guy has tribal tattoos.

DS: Well, he does start off the film as a bouncer, so you could just write it off as something he had to do for his job to be taken seriously.

SWS: (laughs) Exactly, because I’m not very bright and I don’t really want to hurt anyone, so I’ll just freak ’em out with some weird tattoos.

DS: This is a much more physical role for you, and much different from what you normally play.

SWS: Totally. I’m just waiting for the moment someone compares Doug to Stiffler from American Pie. (sarcastically) Then I know I’ve made it!

DS: Well, here you’re pretty much playing the anti-Stiffler. Doug will fight for those he cares about and Stiffler couldn’t care about anyone other than himself, and it’s funny that you have movies with both of these characters coming out in the same year. Was it harder for you to play a nice guy, or are you one of those actors who still enjoys playing the asshole character?

SWS: Oh no, it was much easier to play Doug, and I can explain it best because I did American Pie 4 right after Goon. It was a huge relief to play a really nice guy. Also, because the energy and his whole disposition is completely different.

I was never a funny kid growing up, and when I moved to Los Angeles I never really envisioned doing comedy. I never had training. My dad was funny and my brother was funny enough to be one of the founders of The Onion, but that was the only experience I had. So on a lot of the comedies I had done I was always getting so anxious and stressed because I didn’t know if I was funny or if I knew what I was doing, and I’m out there playing these high energy guys.

So playing Doug was nice because he’s genuinely nice, and I think I might be a little smarter than him. I hope I am. (laughs) So then we did American Pie afterwards, and I was like (groans) “Oh man. I’m playing Stiffler and he’s in his thirties.” I had to drink like 25 cups of coffee and I was, like, shaking by the end of the day just to keep that crazy energy up. I found going back and playing that crazy asshole to be much more of a challenge.

DS: You’re from Minnesota, which is kind of a hockey hotbed. Was hockey a part of your life at all growing up?

SWS: Almost all my best friends at one time would play hockey. I gave it a try when I was, like, 5 or 6 and I just was terrible. My dad played basketball, football, and baseball, so we didn’t have in our family anybody that played hockey. So I grew up being envious of my friends because up there hockey always seemed like the best sport. Unfortunately, I only really got to play the other three.

This was more of a real introduction to the sport for me on this film because… Gosh, learning more about it was such an awesome experience. It’s a whole different kind of world, and the relationship between the teammates is something new to me. And again, this comes from someone who played three totally different sports and only through high school, but I remember my buddies who played hockey always had a better sense of humour about things and they were always different and more understanding of one another. So when we were filming the movie, we began to feel like a team. I mean, most of the cast members were actual hockey players, and that banter and that loyalty to each other was very different.

DS: Did you have to learn how to fight for the film?

SWS: No, actually. I had done some fight training through the years just for fun and for other movies, but this here was still totally different. At first I was just thinking “Well, why don’t these guys try to protect themselves a little bit?” Because I know a little bit of martial arts, I’m just wondering why they don’t try to block and defend as much. They don’t do that, man. They just go for it.

(Co-star) Liev (Schreiber) was telling me that on Wolverine they had four months of rehearsal time before they started shooting for the fights. We had like, 14 minutes. (laughs) We would get there and be on the ice and someone would say “Ok, you’re going to throw 8 punches, then you’re gonna throw an uppercut, then he’s gonna hit you 5 times, then you’re gonna give him a headbutt, then you’re gonna throw him against the glass and you’re gonna hit him five more times, then he’s gonna hit you one more time, then you’re gonna knock him down. Ok, are you ready to shoot that?” (laughs) “Wait, what?” And this is all going on at, like, three in the morning because we only had these rinks from midnight to one in the afternoon before we had to clear out of there and get the hockey ice ready for the actual players. So I learned hockey fighting really on the fly.

And, you know, credit to (director) Mike (Dowse) and the director of photography, because they knew exactly what they wanted and there was such an awesome energy when we were shooting those fights. Because it is aggressive and I’m sure other filmmakers would have shot the fights on solid ground, but Mike always said that you need to have it on the skates and on the ice. You need to be able to feel that movement and be aggressive and not so polished. There was definitely some unintentional contact, but everyone was so on top of it that there were no serious injuries. No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. (laughs)

DS: Did you really know much about the code of hockey and the role of the enforcer going in or was that something entirely new to you?

SWS: Totally new. Absolutely. I mean, I had something of a limited knowledge of the sport going in, but I heard about it and it was something I was always fascinated about. Liev explains it really well, too. The one thing I was most surprised about was that a lot of these guys are so nice and so sweet. The scene in the film where I have to fight (famed hockey enforcer) Georges Laraque was taken from a real experience with him. (laughs) He was just there and he said “Do you want to go?” And he was so polite about it! But it’s all part of the history of the sport and the respect for the game. I’m sure not all of the guys are that way. I’m sure that there’s a lot of bad blood between some of those guys.

DS: What was it like trying to establish a relationship between your character and Liev’s character since Doug looks up to him so much? Did you guys work on that a lot?

SWS: That was the easiest thing in the world for me to do in my entire career because I look up to him so much. I mean, he’s one of my favourite actors of all time. It was very easy for me to be in awe of him. I mean, all I do is watch movies. I actually prefer watching movies to acting in them, to be honest. All I do is watch his stuff. I was sitting in a hotel room the other night and Salt was on and Wolverine was on and I was still kind of awestruck.

When we shot the big scene where me and him are in the diner together and we meet face to face for the first time, I remember just sitting there and I think it was a two-shot… and I’m such a bad actor, that I’m just watching him act and thinking “Man, he’s awesome.” And then I’m thinking “Shit! I shouldn’t even be in the frame,” and I’m trying to make this adjustment where I’m sinking back into the booth. I felt really bad, and I told Mike all that and he said it was perfect and that would really work because Doug would be in total awe of this guy.

DS: So you actually turned into Doug for a moment.

SWS: Yeah, exactly. THAT’S how method I am. I become my characters.

DS: How exactly did you get pitched on doing this movie because there’s a lot of different things going on there and it’s the smallish Canadian film?

SWS: It was a completely different experience than how any other film ever came to me. I was doing press for Role Models in 2008, and Paul Rudd comes up to me just after an interview wrapped and said he had just talked to (Superbad writer and Goon co-writer) Evan Goldberg, and I knew who that was, but I had never met him or really met any of the Judd Apatow guys. I had never met Jay (Baruchel) before, but I loved his work. Paul said that they really loved me for this movie they were going to be doing, and I couldn’t believe it. Because it’s usually me having to go after a part and not the other way around. They were still working on the script at the time and they were thinking of me as they were writing it and I thought that was awesome, and Paul told me it was this hockey movie and I was just psyched that he wasn’t some sort of crazed frat boy.

Then I met with Evan and we started talking about the movie, and he was kinda pitching it to me, but not, you know, a hard sell. But with these guys I told them that I don’t even need to read the script and that I’d love to work with them. Then a couple of months later I got the script and loved it, and just the chance to play a different character and a much more three dimensional role. And it gave me the chance to do something kind of tough again, since The Rundown was the last real time I got to do any sort of major fighting or action. And in that movie I got my ass kicked, and here I get to kick some ass. So in a way, this is kind of like my superhero film. It was just a really cool movie because of the different genres and elements.

Then things got really exciting even after that when Dowse came on board because I LOVED It’s All Gone Pete Tong. It’s the only time I’ve ever watched a movie and thought that I would love to work with that director. Then I got to. (laughs) So we were kind of mutually pitching each other on that.

DS: What do you think of the whole controversy about the role of the enforcer in professional hockey today?

SWS: Are you going to talk to Liev? Did you already talk to him? Ask him, because he says it so much more eloquently than I ever could, and whenever it comes up in interviews that we do together, he’ll say it and I’ll just nod and say “I concur.” I couldn’t say it better than he could, but what he says is exactly how I feel.

DS: I love that you brought up The Rundown because that’s one of the films I’ve been waiting on a sequel on for so long that just never happened.

SWS: (beaming) No way! Because I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I’m gonna try to see if there’s any way that I could get back together with The Rock to do a lower budget, grittier version of it for a sequel, because he’s doing so well right now…

DS: And (director) Peter Berg.

SWS: Oh, I know. I’m sure Peter would be too busy to direct it, but if we could get him to develop the story that would be great because I just LOVE that movie. And I can’t credit The Rock and Peter enough, because that was only Peter’s second movie after… What’s the one he does with the bachelor party with the guys…?

DS: Very Bad Things!

SWS: Yeah! I love that movie. A lot of people don’t like that movie and when I saw it in theatres I saw so many people walking out, and I’m just thinking “You guys are crazy! This is great!”

But yeah, I have to tell The Rock that. But he’s such a great guy. We should get in touch with the studio. Of all the stuff I’ve done that’s something I’d like to revisit the most.