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Ottawa-born actor Jay Baruchel couldn’t be in a better place
these days. Besides being in constant demand for Hollywood comedies and action
films, the SHE’S OUT OF YOUR LEAGUE/THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE star has also
found time to do the occasional indie sleeper like the current GOOD NEIGHBORS
(which he discussed here),
just did a role for childhood hero David Cronenberg in his latest film
COSMOPOLIS and got engaged. Not only that, but Baruchel has also graduated to
writing movies, which include the hockey flick GOON (debuting at the Toronto
Film Festival next month); a high-profile demonic possession drama; and a film
based on Image Comics’ bloody RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE. See below for exclusive
comments from horror buff Baruchel on his exciting future.
FANGORIA: Was GOOD NEIGHBORS a refreshing change of pace
from the big Hollywood blockbusters you do?
JAY BARUCHEL: [Laughs] Indeed it was, I have to say. Yeah.
You know, I take nothing away from some of the work I’ve done in the States,
but to be honest, for the most part, it’s nice to get to make a movie where
you’re just making a movie for the sake of making a movie. That’s what it is to
do art for commerce, but none of us are expecting GOOD NEIGHBORS to be some
sort of summer event tentpole movie. There’s no kind of pressure. And when
there’s less money involved, there’s more creative freedom and it’s more
conducive to everybody feeling free to do their own thing. These kinds of
movies sustain me and renew my faith in acting. I get a sour taste in my mouth
often enough, and so getting to do something like GOOD NEIGHBORS just for the
purest intention to tell an interesting story, it’s really quite something
FANG: You and your GOOD NEIGHBORS co-star Emily Hampshire
appear in David Cronenberg’s latest, COSMOPOLIS. Can you talk about that and
working for Cronenberg?
BARUCHEL: Again, this is a movie that I agreed to do without
knowing what I’d be doing in it. I was sort of just keeping my fiancée [Allison
Pill] company in Manhattan while she was doing her play. My greatest ambition
was to just write horror. And that’s been picking up after my work on
[co-writing] GOON. My writing partner [Jesse Chabot] and I got hired on a
couple of things, and so on-camera acting was the furthest thing from my mind
this year. And then they said, “You want to go to Toronto and do two days on
the new David Cronenberg?” I said, “I’ll pick up that man’s f**king dry
cleaning.” I’ll do anything to meet him. He’s one of my original heroes. For a
Canadian who wants to make horror movies for the rest of his life, there’s no
greater hero or no more important figure than David Cronenberg. It was a very,
very easy “yes” for me. And showing up there, once I got past the initial
butterflies in my stomach and the jitters of not only getting to meet one of my
heroes, but getting to work with him, that took some getting through because I
was flabbergasted. Here I am, getting to watch him do his thing, in his
environment. But once I was past that, it was the easiest job I’ve ever had. It
was simple and fun and exciting and I could retire tomorrow because I’m in one
of his flicks now.
FANG: Who do you play in COSMOPOLIS?
BARUCHEL: The thing is incredibly dense and ethereal and
mostly it’s just dialogue heavy. It takes place in the early 2000s during a
version of the dotcom boom. It follows Robert Pattinson’s character, who’s the
CEO of one of these tech companies, and he’s on his way to work and he’s trying
to get a haircut and that’s the movie. And 90 percent of it takes place in his
limo en route to get a haircut. He has all these different meetings with people
he works alongside, and they come in to the limo, he has a long, sort of
philosophical conversation with them and they get out, they exchange seats, and
I’m the first guy he picks up. I’m the guy who started the company with him, and
I’m a young, rich, upwardly mobile tech head. We have a four-page long
existential scene about the nature of 20th-century living and then I disappear.
It was the most satisfying, interesting, exciting and every adjective in the
book. It really, really nourished me. I know I’m a better actor, a better
writer and a better person for it.
FANG: And speaking of dream projects, you also have GOON
coming out, which you co-wrote and star in, and it’s about hockey, your
favorite sport. How could you sum up that project?
BARUCHEL: GOON—happiest experience of my life, easily.
[Co-writer] Evan Goldberg read a horror script of mine years ago, and when he
was approached to write GOON, he said, “I don’t know anything about hockey, but
my friend Jay does, and he’s a half-decent writer, so what do you think of
him?” And we came up with a bunch of stuff and pitched it and wrote it and then
over the course of a fairly protective four years of development, it finally
came to fruition and so… I don’t have the words to articulate how it feels to
see people inhabiting characters that came from my head or wearing jerseys that
I invented. And GOON is really true and pure and authentic. It is a very hard-R
if it comes out in the United States. It is exceedingly violent, filled with
coarse language, action-packed and incredibly unconventional. And I also met my
fiancée on it. So getting to go to work everyday to shoot hockey—and when we
weren’t shooting hockey, we were shooting funny or fight sequences—was a dream.
If the point was to make a bunch of money really quickly, there are way more
crooked, easier ways to go about that. This is a testament to the concept of a
passion project. It was so, so important in my life. I can’t describe it.
FANG: You say you’ve written some horror projects. Can you
BARUCHEL: Yeah. There’s the dream project that Jesse and I
have been working on for years, which is PIGS, our weird retelling of the
slasher genre about a drug-addled white cop who chases four black kids around
the ghetto on July 4. But the ones that we’ve been hired for, since GOON, are
different flicks. We just did an adaptation of the Jimmy Palmiotti comic book
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE for the movies. We are super, super excited for that
one. We handed in our treatment of that two weeks ago. It’s a motherf**ker, and
it hits you in the head like a 2-by-4. We’ve also been hired to do the rewrite
of a script for Summit called THE EXORCISM DIARIES. Summit owns the rights to
this book called THE REAL STORY BEHIND THE EXORCIST that’s all about this diary
that kept track of the most important, most famous exorcism in the 20th
century. It took place in 1949 in
Maryland, and it’s what spawned the Warner Brothers movie THE EXORCIST,
which is one of the most important flicks in the world to me, and so we’re
getting to write a little something about that. We’re doing a rewrite to the
script they have there and it’s just the best job in the world, waking up and
writing about f**ked up stuff that happens to people.
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