Tending the “Goalie”: An Interview with Adriana Maggs

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Adriana Maggs is an actress, screenwriter, and director from Canada whose debut feature film, Grown Up Movie Star, gained some rave review. She recently adapted her father’s collection of poems about hockey legend Terry Sawchuk (1929-1970) to craft the biopic Goalie, which comes to select theaters on January 31 followed by a DVD/Digital release on February 25 from Darkstar Pictures.

WorldFilmGeek had the opportunity to talk to Maggs about the film.

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Thank you so much Adriana for taking the time to chat about Goalie. I watched Goalie this morning as I am a fan of biopics. This one really is great as there was no sugarcoating of Terry Sawchuk’s story and overall, this is a great film.
That is so great to hear, thank you! I spoke with Terry Sawchuk’s wife and she didn’t want me to sugarcoat anything. She wanted this to be an honest film about him. It was very important to her, so it’s great to hear that.

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Mark O’Brien as Terry Sawchuk in Goalie (Darkstar Pictures/Blue Ice Films)

What inspired you to adapt Terry Sawchuk’s story into a film?
My dad wrote a poetry book, which I’m not too big on poetry, but I realized it was a series of interviews with these older hockey players. I mean these were warriors who reflected not only on the career of Terry Sawchuk, but their own as well. There was something very haunting and I would use the word “mortal” about. It was so beautiful because it felt like they had a normal voice. My sister had the same reaction and we both told our dad that we were going to write a script based on this and that’s how it came to be.

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Mark O’Brien and director Adriana Maggs on the set of Goalie

The cast in the film is excellent with Mark O’Brien giving an amazing performance as Sawchuk, Kevin Pollak as Jack Adams, and Georgina Reilly as Pat. What was it like working with the cast? Did you let the cast give input when it came to bringing their characters to life?
They were all amazing. I loved what they did. Mark comes from the same small province in Canada and I am and on top of that, he also played hockey. I’m guessing where I’m from you can either be an athlete or an actor (Laughs). But, he had the stance down perfectly and he did work with a goalie coach, which was great.

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Kevin Pollak and director Adriana Maggs on the set of Goalie

Kevin was so great to work with. I pretty much stayed out of his way and he did his thing and really brought the role of Jack to life. And Georgina, what can I say? She was also great and she even talked to Terry’s wife about how to bring her role. I wanted Georgina to be someone strong but not so much be a feminist character. I mean, Pat Sawchuk is a total powerhouse and Georgina did an excellent job to bring that to the film.

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Georgina Reilly as Pat Sawchuk in Goalie (Darkstar Pictures/Blue Ice Films)

What really stood out is the interview sequences during cut scenes and I have to ask, were those the actual players or were they actors?
They were actually actors. Sadly, all the actual players depicted in the film are no longer with us. But what I wanted to do is bring something that most sports documentaries would be devoid of. I didn’t want to just do clips, but have these players who were close to Terry “interviewed” and I thought they all did a great job.

 

Is there a scene in the film you would consider your favorite that you shot?
There are quite a few. One of my favorites is the scene where Jack convinces Terry to keep playing, even when he’s injured. There was that urgency when Jack confronts the trainer about having heart, which Terry had. The other scenes involve Mark displaying Terry when he’s drinking, because it is somewhat funny but at the same time both weird and scary. For Mark to explore that dangerous side of Terry really brought out his intensity and Mark did an amazing job with those scenes.

The first scene you brought up reminded me of another sports film, Varsity Blues, where Coach Bud Kilmer (above right, played by Jon Voight) didn’t seem to care when his players were injured and yet, convinced them to keep playing no matter the consequences.
That scene was so great because to me, it felt like there was a human side to the character. For Jack, it was about winning the game and putting his job on the line. I mean, both he and Terry had this determination and there was no wrong side according to them. Kevin brought that role not as a malevolent character at all, but as more of a human character.

Are you a hockey fan and if so, what is your favorite team? I’m a New York Rangers fan myself (Laughs).
Well, I live in Toronto now, so I do like the Maple Leafs, but actually my granduncle once played for the Chicago Blackhawks, so I would say I like that team as well.

Finally, are there any new projects in the works that you can talk about?
Well, I am in the midst of developing a new project, involving podcasters and true crime. It is going to be about a podcaster who finds themselves in a world they don’t belong in.

That’s great! Goalie comes out on January 31 in theaters and for anyone who likes sports and biopics will definitely want to see this honest portrayal one of the greatest hockey legends in history. Thank you so much Adriana for talking about the film.
Thank you so much for having me!

A Special Thank You goes to October Coast PR and Adriana Maggs for making this interview possible. For Randall Maggs’ book about Terry Sawchuk, go to Amazon to order on Paperback or Kindle.

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