Q&A with Will Arnett
Posted: Wednesday March 28, 2007 4:44PM; Updated: Thursday March 29, 2007 12:24PM
The Toronto-born actor stars in three upcoming sports movies: Blades of Glory (March 30), Semi-Pro and Hot Rod (both June 1).
SI: You've made a lot of sports movies? Are you a fan?
Arnett: Well, I know of Sports Illustrated. You illustrate sports, right? You print a bunch of illustrations of sports"like stick figures and stuff?
SI: Exactly. How much of an athlete are you in real life?
Arnett: I played a lot of sports relatively well, but never really kickass. I played hockey as a kid; I played net. And I skied, I think. I never really spent the time or dedicated myself. I dedicated a lot of time to watching sports.
SI: Like what?
Arnett: My No. 1 thing is hockey. I'm a huge Maple Leafs fan. The advent of the Center Ice package was one of the greatest days of my existence. I have the package in [my New York and L.A. homes] so I never miss a game.
SI: The NHL isn't so popular these days.
Arnett: I don't know what they can do to make it more appealing, but I think they have to get rid of the "instigator rule". Let the players fight. It's the way players police themselves. Then you're not going to have Cam Janssen hitting Tomas Kaberle when he obviously wasn't paying attention. If he knew he was going to have to deal with Tie Domi, then that doesn't happen. Fighting helps eliminate a lot of injuries.
SI: Your Arrested Development character, Gob Bluth, has experience running a large company. How would he save the NHL?
Arnett: He would run hockey like the ABA. It would be run-and-gun insanity and it would be all about promotions and very little to do with the sport itself. I don't even know that they would play actual hockey.
SI: The way you imagined him, was Gob an athlete as a child?
Arnett: Oh yeah, and he was a bully about it. Like me. My brother is nine years younger and when I was 18 and shooting beers behind our house we used to strap pads onto him and put him in [the hockey net]. Me and my idiot friends would just ding him with slap-shots using frozen tennis balls. Poor little kid. He wanted to hang out with his older brother. That's what he gets, I guess.
SI: Do you still play?
Arnett: I haven't played net since I was 14, but I still play some shinny. I'll go to Central Park on a Sunday night every once in a while. I love hockey. It's the greatest game. I may not be the greatest player, but I count myself among its biggest fans.
SI: Who was your goalie idol?
Arnett: I had a few, but the guy who I thought was the coolest was Billy Smith. And those guys really dictated how I acted. I used to buy those crappy Cooper facemasks and try to paint them with house paint. It doesn't work so well. It looks really crappy.
SI: Were you any good?
Arnett: No, but the little stuff like cleaning your crease and banging your stick back-and-forth between the posts and slapping it on the ice if you have a power play -- I was really good at that. You want to learn the in-between stuff so people think, "Wow that guy's for real!" It's a real showboat position.
SI: Did the skating experience help on Blades of Glory, where you play a pairs figure skater?
Arnett: Yes, but [the skating] was made more difficult by the toe pick, which I eventually had shaved off. I didn't even tell the skating coach. I just said, "Get rid of it now!" They shaved it right off.
SI: Have you received any ribbing about playing a figure skater?
Arnett: My buddies have gotten some good yuks. One of my top boys in Ontario, Scottie Bayer, he really gave it to me. But I get the last laugh because I'm in a big Hollywood movie. Take that, Scotty!
SI: One could say that the outfit skaters wear are pretty similar to the outfits Gob Bluth wore as a magician?
Arnett: I'm not going to lie to you. I am certainly drawn to a character who has a little flair. I love it. Loooove it.
SI: You're filming a basketball movie, Semi-Pro, with Will Ferrell, too. How's your game?
Arnett: In between scenes we've been shooting hoops, and obviously I excel at it. I play basketball like a hockey player. Lots of elbows. Anyway, I play the color commentator. He likes to drink and smoke on the bench. It's been a number of years since I enjoyed the beverages, but I still have a strong appreciation for them.
SI: Did you get to talk to anyone -- say, Don Cherry -- for some commentary background?
Arnett: He wouldn't have time for a punk like me. Are you kidding me? He is the king of all sports commentators. He is it! That is the bible. That is the word. He'd crush me.
SI: You also have an Evel Knievel-ish comedy, Hot Rod, coming up. Are you at all a daredevil?
Arnett: Nooo, I like to play it safe. Except when it comes to the ladies. Oh wait. No. I didn't say that. They're calling me away. I really have to go.