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Jay Baruchel Talks Magic and Working with a Legend

09 August 2010

From making his TV debut as a 13-year-old in horror series Are You Afraid of the Dark? to working with Cameron Crowe, Clint Eastwood and Judd Apatow, Canadian actor Jay Baruchel’s steadily carved a career as one of the most likeable comic stars of his generation.

And after global success with animated hit How to Train Your Dragon and starring as an unlikely romantic lead in She’s Out of My League, Baruchel’s continuing his superb 2010 by co-starring with Nicolas Cage in Disney’s big-budget update of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

As part of the family adventure’s whistlestop world tour, Baruchel stopped off in London and spoke to thefancarpet about green screen, working with a childhood favourite and his dreams of horror.



Hi Jay, you look tired.

I had 90 minutes of sleep last night, man. It’s an interesting way of life, the press tour, let me tell you.

Well, we’ll have to do a little talk about the film and your career while you’re awake… If you could describe The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in one sentence, what would you say?

Fun as hell. (laughs) It’s the reason summer exists – it’s your quintessential escapist, fun-ass popcorn movie, man. The stakes are just high enough that you care but it’s also just really fun to watch and it moves along at a crazy pace, there’s so much to look at and a bunch of wonderful, classic set pieces that could be easily referenced. And I think it’s a lot funnier than people realise. It’s just a good time, man.

Was your grounding in comedy part of the reason you got the role?

I think that had something to do with it, yeah. I was lucky enough to have worked for Jerry Bruckheimer before – I was on the only one of his shows that wasn’t a massive, decade-long hit, the only show he produced that only went six episodes! (laughs) But yeah, I was his suggestion. [Director] Jon [Turteltaub] had no idea who I was so I had to go in and read, I did two scenes for them and they said ‘Alright, you’re the friggin’ Apprentice!’

You’ve got the comedy experience needed, but there’s a lot of green screen work and CGI in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – was that a challenge?

For some people it would be. For me, I’ve always been a chronic daydreamer and have an overactive imagination. All I’ve ever wanted to do is direct horror movies, my whole life, long before I started acting. So what got me through high school was staring up at the ceiling plotting crazy stunts in my head. And so when it came time to do something like this, they’d say ‘OK, a giant dragon is chasing you’ and I didn’t need them to describe it to me, I’d be like ‘Oh, I got ya’. I was tailormade for it!

It’s a pretty action-packed film too – did you sustain any injuries?

I f****d up my back pretty bad. Even a guy like me is still at the mercy of a fragile male ego – and in the training sequence I get electrocuted a bunch. They cut some of it out but there was one particular night where I… I put a lot of mustard on it, let’s say that, and was throwing myself into it like crazy. Every time they’d say ‘Are you sure you don’t want more pads?’ and I’d go ‘No, I’m fine, I’m fine’ and just went nuts and got some wonderful applause once the scene was done. And literally the minute I walked off the set I stooped and lost about a foot and a half, I spent the rest of the night walking around like a 70-year-old woman with scoliosis! You couldn’t stretch first, you schmuck?!?



There’s a lot of character-driven work in the film, mostly between you and Nicolas Cage. How was it working with someone you must have grown up watching?

Oh man, I snuck into Con Air when I was 15! (laughs) It was wonderful. I’m sure it’d be more interesting and more fertile reading material if I said we were at odds but he’s the man. The first time we met each other… sometimes you’re on the same wavelength as people and sometimes you’re not and for someone like me, most times I’m not! (laughs) But [Nic and I] are kind of cut from the same cloth. You’ll not see either of us on red carpets for movies we’re not in, you know? We’re both just huge f*****g dorks, for lack of a better term! I wish you could hear the s**t we talked about!

Well, he’s a big comic book geek…

He’s a big comic book geek, he’s a big history nerd, like me, he’s really into mythologies and Arthurian legend – I’ve been obsessed with Arthur since I was a kid, [John] Boorman’s Excalibur is one of my favourite films of all time and I studied Camelot at high school, and so we just had this rapport together.

What about in terms of acting together?

It might sound strange to some people, but I think he and I subscribe to the same school of acting – what he calls it is ‘jazz acting’, where you’re able to go off book a bit and find your own weird rhythm.

Is it different every take?

Incredibly. (laughs) But my introduction into the States was with [Judd] Apatow and [Ben] Stiller and they kind of foster ad-libbing and improv-ing. When I did this TV show, Undeclared, there were no characters – they cast us, we improvised/rehearsed for three weeks and they based everything, all the characters on what we did there. So much to the chagrin of some people that hire me, I will always ad-lib. So it was nice to have someone as famous as [Nic] doing it as well, ‘cos no-one gives you s**t for it! (laughs)

This has been an amazing year for your career.

Thanks, man!

You’ve had this, She’s Out of My League, the brilliant How to Train your Dragon…

Thanks, I love that movie.

But where do you see yourself at the moment? Are you a leading man yet?

Ah, I don’t f*****g know! (laughs) It’s strange. For every big American movie I’ve done, I’ve done an equal amount of independent movies in Canada. But when I first started when I was 12, I was the lead in stuff – if nothing else, I’m groomed for the workload, I know what it is to try to carry something. That being said, I’ve been pretty fortunate in the career I’ve had in the States to have been in things that have resonated with people and each one of them was marked by people saying ‘Watch out for this kid, he’s gonna break next year…’ Undeclared, Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder, Million Dollar Baby, each one had people saying ‘watch out for this kid..’

It was Almost Famous for me…

Thanks, bud, thank you very much! But the thing is, everyone kept saying it and a f*****g decade went by! (laughs) So, I kind of put no stock into that. For me, I’m content to be in stuff that I’d pay money to see, and I’m in stuff that I enjoy doing, and I’m paying my mom’s rent and sending my sister to school so I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever.

Finally, you mentioned horror and I know you’ve got your directorial debut Pig in development – what stage is it at?

We’re just in the process of finishing the first draft, me and the guy I write with who’s one of my best friends, we’ve known each other since we were 15. We’re writing it, trying to get the financing together. Something else I wrote called Goon is shooting at the end of the summer so hopefully that’ll help me get Pig made. But when we make Pig… that’s gonna hit you like a ton of bricks, it’s gonna p**s a lot of people off! (laughs)



The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Film Page | Official Site