#INTERVIEW: ELDEN HENSON, MATT DOHERTY, MARGUERITE MOREAU, VINCENT LARUSSO, GARETTE HENSON AND JUSTIN WONG ON “THE MIGHTY DUCKS: GAME CHANGERS”
By David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
As a child of the ’90s, I was a big fan of The Mighty Ducks film series. I saw all three films in theatres and they inspired me to start playing hockey. Though that dream was short lived, the films and the memories they created stayed with me. So imagine my surprise and excitement all these years later when I was given the opportunity to speak to Elden Henson (Fulton), Matt Doherty (Averman), Marguerite Moreau (Connie), Vincent LaRusso (Adam Banks), Garette Henson (Guy) and Justin Wong (Kenny Wu) about their time on the set of the Disney+ sequel series, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. The family-friendly show has done a wonderful job carving its own path while maintaining a nostalgic lifeline to the original films. The group appear in Episode 6 of the first season, “Spirit of the Ducks”, and had nothing but great things to say about their time together and their experiences filming in Vancouver last year.
Here are a few of the things we learned in our online roundtable discussion with the group.
How difficult was it to get back on the ice?
WONG: “I’ve been playing hockey for the last 15 years, so getting back on the ice was easy for me.”
MOREAU: “Hard [Laughs].”
GARETTE: “It felt like riding a bike. It was like I had never stopped skating. It had probably been about ten years since I skated, but it is such a fun game and as soon as you get out there, you just feel like a kid again. You feel that wind in your face and it’s pretty thrilling.”
MOREAU: “Well I’m glad you did, young’un. Because I had the wind in my face but I felt like my knees were going to buckle under me. It was not like riding any bike I know. I was a mess!”
ELDEN: “It was definitely harder cause I got a lot fatter [Everyone laughs].”
DOHERTY: “I grew up wanting to be good at a sport, and I was never really good at one. But somehow, hockey was my thing. So it’s always been a big part of my life.”
LARUSSO: “The fact that we got to step on the ice after that long and do it…and [the show’s producers] were like ‘Oh, we built this arena, so you guys can skate. The whole arena is yours for a couple hours.’ It was pretty incredible.”
What was it like to reunite with each other nearly 25 years after D3: The Mighty Ducks?
DOHERTY: “We were all watching the World Series at Elden’s spot and we were all laughing at the fact that it was as if no time had passed. It’s like we’re the smallest little high school and it was a reunion. To me, my favourite time being up there was just hanging with the crew and we did so much of that. It’s like [we are] family.”
LARUSSO: “We don’t really need ice breakers after all the time we spent together at those ages. You know, we get around each other and it’s like, nothing. Everyone just sits down and relaxes and it’s like…”
MOREAU: “Exactly the same. But we had to quarantine for two weeks [before filming]. And I think that [Vincent], you pointed it out to me that if we hadn’t had that mandatory two weeks, you would have come in, shot your three days and gone home. The fact that we had to quarantine and then there was this magical week where we didn’t have to shoot, but we had all quarantined and we couldn’t go anywhere so thank God there was the World Series going on. Then after we went to shoot, I was like ‘Are we going out?’ And everyone was like ‘Marg, we just had like a 16 hour day. Are you insane?’”
ELDEN: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Steve Brill [the series’ Writer/Producer], Disney+ and everyone for the free vacation in Vancouver [Everyone laughs]. Seriously, it was amazing! We had a whole week off and we all just hung out!”
How do you feel about bringing the legacy of The Mighty Ducks film franchise to a new audience?
ELDEN: “I felt very lucky and humbled that they asked me to come back and it feels great to be a part of [the show]. You know, you kind of feel a little pressure – it’s the new generation now and all the new kids are fantastic. They are such great actors and such great kids. So it was nice to just have a front row seat and see it.”
LARUSSO: “This is sprouting up now and that I think there’s so much recognition for how good the show is and how great the kids are. But there’s simultaneous recognition with what it’s being rebooted from. Which makes me feel a lot of pride.”
MOREAU: “It’s a real treat for us to be invited. [There’s] a lot of childhood memories that we get to revisit, which is not normal. So it feels really special.”
DOHERTY: “And just how needed and timely it all is, to have a story like this be in our world right now. We got to play a tiny part in it. It brings a lot of joy, and it talks about overcoming being discarded and underrepresented. To me, it’s the underdog story that will always live and to be a part of that is pretty humbling.”
WONG: “For me, I’ve spent so many years away from it that I had no idea how much of an impact all three of the movies had on kids [at] any age. And now, a bunch of new kids get to experience the same thing and all the new kids in the show get to experience [what] we all did when we were young doing the movies. Now they’re going to grow up being a part of this great thing Steve has created…Steve’s done a great job rebuilding the world and trying to include us all in it.”
What was it like working and reconnecting with Emilio Estevez (Coach Gordon Bombay) again?
ELDEN: “Emilio very much in real life was like Gordon was to Fulton. He had such a positive impact on my life and I still strive to be like him on set. It was great to revisit that and be able to tell him that.”
GARETTE: “He was such a positive influence on us as kids and to get to reconnect with him as an adult, to confirm all those feelings that we had and see someone living up to that image…it was really satisfying. We’ve gotten to see each other [in this group] over the years but I’ve not seen him since the premiere of D3. So to get to see him again and get on the ice and skate around was really satisfying.”
MOREAU: “I think I was more nervous around him than you guys were. To meet him as an adult was so much easier. Also I think Ducks was my first movie and now having worked for many more years, it’s like set was so much more fun. Not just in the social time I was having with all the guys on set, but whenever they turned the camera on, I was always like ‘I’ll cheer!’ when I was in the first films. Now, I felt like I could have a lot more fun actually connecting with the other characters in a more complex way, and that included having real conversations with Emilio. I asked him ‘Do we seem different now that we’re adults? Is that tripping you out?’ And he’s like ‘No, not at all. You’re exactly the same’.”
WONG: “I think I remember him saying the thing that amazed him the most was just thinking that we are actually older than he was doing the first movies now. And that really got to him.”
DOHERTY: “He is a lot like Gordon. He changed my life. He stands for something always. He treats everybody the same. That’s a rare thing. He is what he pretends to be on the screen and that just taught me in terms of character and how to conduct myself. To be able to share that with him as an adult…was a powerful moment.”
THE MIGHTY DUCKS: GAME CHANGERS streams now on Disney+.
“Spirit of the Ducks” premieres on Friday, April 30, 2021.