The Last Word: Jay Baruchel
You might not realize it, but the odds are good that you’ve seen a movie featuring one of the biggest Canadiens fans who ever grew up right in Montreal. Over the past few years, Jay Baruchel has starred alongside some of the top names in Hollywood, appearing in Million Dollar Baby, Knocked Up, and one of the biggest movies of 2008, Tropic Thunder. Currently in theaters in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist and back in town filming The Trotsky, the actor spoke to us from his home in the suburb of NDG.
So you’re a legitimate hardcore fan. At what age did you start following the team?
JAY BARUCHEL: Well, I was always a terrible skater – I was like a drunken Clydesdale every time I was on the ice. My mom and my dad were both crazy about the team, so I grew up with the Canadiens as my religion with my dad as the priest. There was no bigger fan in the world than him. I remember that I had this armoire and dresser in my room as a kid and they disappeared for a few days, then when they returned he had painted them bleu-blanc-rouge. So it’s really been a lifelong thing. Following the team just sustains me and is one of the things that brings me the most happiness in the world.
Who were some of the guys you remember following and liking in particular when you were growing up?
JB: When I was a little, Patrick Roy was a big deal to everyone. In my house, my dad liked all the players, and I still have his Stephane Richer jersey, but he was always partial to the fighters. I was at an airport with him once and we saw John Kordic at a pay phone, and he told me to go up to him and say, “Hey, Slugger,” so I did. I think I still have Kordic’s autograph somewhere.
You mentioned Patrick Roy. You must be happy he’s back in the family and getting his jersey retired?
JB: Oh, 100 percent. Everything with the Habs is kind of strangely fate-oriented, right? It’s no coincidence that all these good things are happening around the time of the club’s 100th anniversary, and at a point where we have our last chance to keep our string of winning a Cup in every decade alive. The stars are in complete alignment.
|Baruchel repping Canada and the CH.
We saw a sweet shot of you in a Canadiens cap on the set of Tropic Thunder, so you definitely show your team colors wherever you go.
JB: The “CH” is a symbol that represents me as much as the maple leaf, if not more. I’ve brought that cap to Hawaii for the shoot; I brought it down to Sydney, Australia, and I’ve worn Habs stuff all across Europe and everywhere I’ve been in the States – the Habs are my heart.
Of the various leads in Tropic Thunder, who came closest to what you expected entering the movie, and who was most different from what you anticipated?
JB: [laughs] Jack Black is exactly how you’d think he’d be. He’s exactly the way he is in his movies – he’s incredibly funny and talented and spontaneous, and possibly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And then I don’t know… Nick Nolte likes Montreal a lot more than I knew he did, I can tell you that – he claims it’s his favorite city in the world.
Back in the formative days of your career you hosted Popular Mechanics for Kids with fellow Habs fan Elisha Cuthbert. Do you ever call her up for old times’ sake and discuss things like lightning storms, roller-coasters, or amazing sea creatures?
JB: [laughs] Not a heckuva lot. Her and I, we don’t really run in the same circles.
Let’s say you’re hosting your buddy Seth Rogen for a night here in Montreal. What would be your essential list of things to see and do with a first-time visitor to the city?
JB: Well, I can answer that easily because it happened this past summer. Seth and a bunch of other friends from the U.S. were up here and looking for cool stuff to do. The first thing I wanted to do was take them to St. Hubert because it’s my favorite place in the world – I like chicken and I like gravy and I like ribs and fries and St. Hubert is the tastiest thing on the planet. [laughs] Alas, we went to St. Hubert and it was completely packed, so we went to Baton Rouge and it was completely packed, so we ended up hoofing it over to Prince-Arthur Street. We would have ended up at Schwatz’s, but we didn’t feel like dealing with another lineup, so I took them to a delicious Polish restaurant called Mazurka. So basically, everywhere I’d go with people would be restaurants, and of course I tell people that if they’re here in-season, they need to get to the Bell Centre and see a Habs game because there’s nothing like it on earth.
You have a tattoo of a maple leaf over your heart. We assume it’s not a Toronto Maple Leaf.
JB: No, no, no. They’ve hijacked our national symbol, but mine is a red maple leaf. You can take the boy out of Canada, but you can’t take Canada out of the boy.
Keep up with Jay’s projects through his profile on imdb.com, or follow his every move on Twitter.
This article, written by Jon S. Trzcienski, was published in CANADIENS magazine Vol. 23 No. 1.
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