Jay Baruchel is one of the most fun interviews I've ever done. The star of this weekend's She's Out Of My League has made a career of playing out-there geeks or insecure leading men, but the actor himself is basically fearless, tossing out f-bombs, telling the story behind all of his tattoos, and doing a spot-on imitation of Nicolas Cage for a crowd of journalists to get something other than the same old interview.
Some of that courage surely came in handy on She's Out Of My League, in which Baruchel plays a guy who finds himself dating a complete bombshell (Alice Eve), but goes through all kinds of humiliations in order to prove to himself that he's worthy of her love. From letting his best friend shave his testicles to having a giant dog lick a certain suspicious area on his crotch, Baruchel goes through lot in the film-- but it all pays off in the comedy. Check out our interview with the proudly Canadian star below. She's Out Of My League opens this Friday.
What's the key to playing this character?
Ideally if I did my job, he's sympathetic, he's at least moderately compelling. Also he's not pathetic. It was important to me that it not be about a guy whose life sucks, and then he meets a good looking girl and everything gets better. It was important to me that it came across that even if he never met her, he'd still be happy. She just enhances his life.
What personality traits do you share with this character?
There's a chunk of myself in every part I play. There has to be, or else I"ll suck at it. There was chick it took me a fair bit of time to get over, I guess, so I was heartbroken for a while. I think I'm a lot crazier than Kirk is. He's at least a functioning member of society. If you were to see the magazines I subscribe to...
Oh, Cat Fancy, Soldier of Fortune and The Hockey News.
What drew you to this script?
For me it was my chance to be, albeit a lamer verison of him, to be my version of Lloyd Dobler. The moments are a lot broader in this than they are in Say Anything and all that stuff, [but] this owes more to that than it does to anything in the past 10 years. I got to make this movie and do my Dobler, and I got to do a movie called The Trotsky where I got to be Ferris basically. It's my way of putting my stamp on that style of movie.
So you're comfortable being the new hero for all of us-- whatever you want to call us?
For underdogs? Yeah, fuck it. You grow up skinny in Canada in working-class Montreal, you're definitely the underdog. Hell yeah, bring it on.
What was the most awkward scene for you?
I think you know the answer to that question. There's nothing not challenging about having a dog licking fucking beef pate off your crotch for twelve hours.
You've always been good in supporting roles in movies, but now you're the headliner.
It's weird. I keep getting asked that question, and I'm psyched about it, but it hasn't been a huge paradigm shift as much as it seems. The workload, at least, I was groomed for. For every big American movie I've done where I was the supporting guy, I've gone back home to Canada to do supporting movies where I was the lead. When I started when I was 12, I did two TV shows back to back where I was the lead. The first job that brought me down to the states was a show called Undeclared, and I was the lead in that. It seemed like what I was supposed to be doing.
How did you choose to have a butt double in the manscaping scene?
Well, it was two things. One, I have a little sister and my mother who live two blocks away from me. I don't need my junk being out there for everyone to see. I was raised to air your dirty laundry in private. Also, had they really wanted me to be naked in it, they should have asked me when they were negotiating my friggin' contract.
How did you go back picking which backside?
Whichever one had the least amount of ingrown hairs.
Would you ever want to be naked on the screen?
No, are you kidding me? No fucking way. I am convinced I can have a career that I love and respect and am proud of without once having to be naked. There are precious few people out there who are like, "Fingers crossed, Baruchel will be naked out there one day." No one is holding their breath for that sequence.
What's the story of your tattoo?
I've actually got a couple. [Gesturing to the word "Rodell" on his right forearm] That's my mother's maiden name. She's six of eight kids, most of them are girls, so my granddad's name probably won't live on past this generation. It was my tribute to that side of the family. My mother hates it every time I get one. She'll never be psyched about them, but at least she can't take issue with them. I got the maple leaf, her family name, and then I got, representing her Irish side of the family, I got the Celtic cross.