Roy Dupuis is arguably the most successful film and TV star still living in the country. And he's in just about every single frame of The Rocket - destined to be a classic Canadian sports flick. So I guess he's allowed to fill up a big boutique hotel room with the smoke from his Gauloises. (To be fair: he offers me one. I politely decline.) Anglophones know his chiselled mug from TV's Nikita and as the dad in that Dionne quintuplets miniseries, Million Dollar Babies. But French-language projects like Emilie and Sraphin - the most popular film in the history of Quebec cinema - have made him a huge star there. Whether it's a language thing or he's just a quiet, moody guy, Dupuis takes a long time to answer questions.
How well did you get to know Maurice Richard? We met him during the filming of the 1999 TV series Maurice Richard, and he opened up to me, so I guess that meant he agreed that I was the one to play him. We went to hockey games, hung out occasionally.
What was the key to finding his character? I didn't want to do an imitation of him. I wanted to get the energy of him, the rhythm. The easy stuff was getting information: looking at archives, movies, books.
What surprised you in your research? The ceremony for the change from the Montreal Forum to the new Bell Centre. The old players came and passed the torch to the new ones. There was Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur. But when Richard came on, there was a 16-minute standing ovation. I was at home watching, and I thought, "What the fuck is this all about?" It was more than just hockey. He gave pride to an entire culture that thought of themselves, and were treated, as second-class citizens.
Did you ask Richard how he felt about NHL players' million-dollar salaries? I didn't have to ask him. He was probably the most competitive man I've ever met - nothing could stop that motherfucker. He'd know when players weren't giving their all, and more than once told me he didn't make more than $25,000 a year playing hockey.
Was it harder filming the hockey scenes this time around, because you're a few years older? I was ready to get cut if needed, but after one day of skating, the hockey choreographer, Martin Lacroix, said it wouldn't be a problem. I'm over 40, but I guess I still have it in me. I've skated since I was three. It was what you did in Abitibi and Kapuskasing - even in the summer.
And no stunt doubling? Nope. I know that directors have a lot more liberty when they don't have to deal with a body double.
The Quebec film industry is thriving. Any advice for the English-Canadian industry? It's tough for you guys. You lose all your actors because commercial success is right across the border. The only thing I can see that could help is the media. If American actors are always on your covers, it's not going to help things much.