The Art of the Steal's Jay Baruchel is crazy for Canada
TORONTO—In the recently released comedy This Is the End, codirector and writer Seth Rogen (with Evan Goldberg) and a bunch of his actor friends play exaggerated versions of themselves. Some of the portrayals are ridiculous—like Michael Cera as a cocaine-obsessed womanizer—and some seem truer than others. (We’re not sure that Danny McBride practises cannibalism in his spare time, but we wouldn’t be shocked.) There probably isn’t one, however, that’s as closely in tune with the actor’s real life as Jay Baruchel’s.
Portrayed as “weirdly Canadian” and hostile to everything that Los Angeles stands for, the Montrealer isn’t well received by some of Rogen’s friends in the film. Although that’s surely an inflated representation, in a Toronto hotel room during the Toronto International Film Festival—where he’s promoting the Canadian-shot heist comedy The Art of the Steal, which opens Friday (September 20)—there’s no denying that Baruchel is one of Canadian film’s true advocates.
“Two patriots met each other and it made sense and it seemed like a really fun thing to do,” he says, pointing to Jonathan Sobol, the film’s writer-director, who is also present. “And on a five-hours train ride from my city, I was just, like, ‘Fuck, yeah!’ We need to make more movies here that take place here and where we don’t hide our Canadianness. I’m sick of seeing the Toronto skyline and when it comes time to currency being exchanged, there’s a close-up on American money. Enough, man. Enough is enough.”
Baruchel continues: “So I was happy to meet someone else like that, because, unfortunately, we’re in the minority. If you were in any other country in the world and you wanted to make movies…in your country, people would just be, like, ‘Oh, you’re a filmmaker. How come you’re making them here? You’re a Syrian; you made a movie in Arabic and you shot it for Syria? Where’s the establishing shot of Chicago?’ That would never happen.
“We got so much flak when we made The Trotsky for all the Montreal inside jokes we had in it. I was, like, ‘Inside jokes? What? Because we mentioned a fucking street?’ Jesus Christ, man. Rue Sherbrooke, hilarious! Only a Montrealer would get that fucking joke. It’s just, like, enough is enough.”
Baruchel is that rare example of a Canadian actor with enough star power to generate audience attention wherever he goes. With his mind set on directing, Canadians might take comfort in the fact that we have such a high-profile person fighting for our film industry.
“I got to pop my professional cherry two weeks ago,” he says. “The Trailer Park Boys are back; they just shot a new season, and I got to shoot the finale of it. It was fun, and all I want to do is direct movies. I’m just super busy—it’s a classy problem to have, but it’s paramount amongst my concerns.”