Plus, he reflects on his roles in 'How to Train Your Dragon,' 'Almost Famous' and more
Catch more of Jay Baruchel in the full episode of Entertainment Weekly: The Show, available now on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.
Jay Baruchel has worked on a lot of memorable projects over the years. So when he stopped by EW: The Show to talk about his directorial debut, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, we invited him to take a walk down memory lane in a special “Way Back in the J” Role Call. He shared stories about diverse projects, ranging from Almost Famous to Undeclared and Knocked Up.
When he was 12, Baruchel scored his first ever acting gig as a kid who gets killed by a monster in a swimming pool in one of the most notorious episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? — he still takes pride in the fact that the director told him his death scene was “too real.”
His next major project was Almost Famous, which caused him to graduate from high school a year late. He most fondly recalls his behind-the-scenes experiences with director Cameron Crowe. “When I think Almost Famous, I think playing Frisbee with Cameron Crowe and talking about Billy Wilder,” he says.
He describes the short-lived sitcom Undeclared as being ahead of its time due to its lack of laugh track. “I posit that we broke ground and that the sense of humor that is on display in Undeclared is what would become the industry standard in comedy about 10 years after,” he asserts.
For many, Baruchel’s most memorable role is one in which we don’t see his face: as unlikely dragon trainer Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon. He believes the impact it has on kids makes it one of his most important roles, saying, “If you think about when you’re a little kid, and you like something — you like it, like it and nothing in your adult life will you like as much as you liked it when you were a child. And the stuff you like when you’re a child will steer you onto the kind of grown up you become.”
Lastly, he spoke about his new movie and directorial debut Goon: Last of the Enforcers, about an aging hockey star facing competition from a rookie enforcer. Baruchel calls making this film the “single greatest experience of my life” and a dream come true.
“I’ve wanted to be a director since I was nine years old and that was three years before my first day on set as an actor at 12,” he says. “Even when I started at 12, my mom said, ‘You want to go to film school? Well being on set is the best film school in the world.'”
Watch the clip above for more, including how Tropic Thunder out-did Indiana Jones and why he’s proud of Knocked Up.