Let the Goon times roll
New mom Alison Pill chats about her latest movie and growing up in Midtown
“I grew up in the Republic of Rathnelly, which is totally a known republic,” laughs actress Alison Pill, referring to the small region between the Annex and Forest Hill. “It’s not always acknowledged that it’s a republic, but it is.”
Since bursting into the collective consciousness back in 2010 with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the Toronto-born thespian has given birth to a baby daughter and, this month, returns to the big screen with a hotly anticipated sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Pill began her acting career early. “I started when I was 10,” she says, originally dipping her feet into the industry thanks to books on tape and animation. “I got an agent in Toronto, and at the time, because of where the dollar was, there was a ton of production going on in Toronto, and so I just started working.”
Since her formative years in Canada’s pint-sized republic, Pill has acted in a wide variety of movies and TV series, garnering several awards and honours for her work. She received a Gemini nomination for The Pillars of the Earth and a Best Supporting Actress nod from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle for the first Goon movie. Pill’s most recent project is Goon:
Last of the Enforcers, the sequel to 2011’s Goon. The movies chronicle the story of Doug “the Thug” Glatt — an underachieving bouncer turned semi-pro hockey player, played by Seann William Scott ( American Pie) — and his eversupportive wife, Eva, played by Pill. Although Glatt is the tough enforcer of the Halifax Highlanders, he’s also the glue that holds the team together and a true softie at heart. In the second film, he goes head-to-head with an angry rival, Anders Cain (played by Wyatt Russell of Black Mirror’s Playtest episode), and faces possible retirement due to injury, all while building a family and a home with Eva. In the film, Glatt’s team must deal with the challenges the team faces on ice, as Eva prepares for motherhood. Co-written and directed by fellow Canadian Jay Baruchel, the second Goon film is full of even more outrageous scenes and slapstick humour than the first film. Think blood, gore and plenty of locker-room jokes. Pill says filming the sequel was a unique experience because it was Baruchel’s directorial debut, and the entire cast, which also includes Elisha Cuthbert ( 24) and Liev Schreiber ( X-Men), was keen to reunite.
“Everybody coming back together to film the second movie was so special, and to be part of Jay’s first directing gig was so exciting,” Pill says. “Having done the first one, we all knew we were going to have a good time.” Baruchel, known for his roles in
This Is the End and Knocked Up, directed and co-wrote the screenplay for the Goon sequel and also acted as the character of Pat, Glatt’s foul-mouthed best friend.
The actor-director pairing made for quite a few on-set anecdotes.
“It was pretty unforgettable watching Jay having to direct while dressed as Pat and finish a scene [with] Seann William Scott and then saying, ‘Cut!’ There were a few moments of multiple hats being worn,” Pill says. “It was great.”
Baruchel’s new directorial gig wasn’t the only change since Goon. This time, filming was different, too: shot in Toronto instead of Winnipeg, and the scenes with Pill and Scott were completed before the hockey arena scenes.
“We kind of did this little domestic family comedy for a couple of weeks, and then they all went off and shot a hockey movie,” she says. “The scenes in the house with Seann and me were totally separate from the scenes in the arena with the dudes on skates, but it was mostly this lovely little family movie that I was doing.”
Pill attended Vaughan Road Academy as a teen, growing up in the aforementioned Republic of Rathnelly. The area is known for its tight-knit community and strong sense of fun and rebellion. To wit, back in ’ 67, the republic seceded from Canada and later asked the office of then prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau for a Canadian foreign aid grant to help establish a local playground.
“We had a parade every year and a queen,” Pill says of the area.
Pill now lives in L.A., but she tries to get back to T.O. as often as she can. “There’s a lot more production happening in Toronto now. I’ve been able to be up there working for the past three summers,” she says. “Some of the crew I’ve known for 15 years.”
When she does get to T.O., one of her favourite dining destinations is Fresh. Pill says she has eased up on being fully vegan since giving birth, but vegetarian and vegan restaurant Fresh is still one of her non-negotiable local go-tos.
“Fresh is a must! I always, always eat there when I come to Toronto,” she says.
One of her most admirable qualities is her charitable efforts. She recently posted an image to Instagram posing with an array of brown bag lunches for homeless people in her ‘hood, as part of her stated aim to “make the world a little less mean.”
Pill is now up for a spot of respite, taking time to focus on her toughest job yet: motherhood. She and husband Joshua Leonard, a writer, actor and director, recently welcomed their daughter into the world, and Pill is focused on parenting for now before work resumes.
“I have a couple of things coming up in the spring and summer, but nothing is official yet. Right now is baby time,” she says. “Trying to keep the baby from dying: that’s my main parental goal for the first year. Make sure she’s eating, sleeping and not dying!”
Goon: Last of the Enforcers hits theatres March 17.
Actress Alison Pill returns to the big screen in this month’s ‘Goon: Last of the Enforcers’