That was actually very simple. It had nothing to do with emulating what was going on. Here's the thing: I know when I first started out, one of the things that struck me, and I remembered this, I would get to know the person, the actor, in between takes, off the set, whatever. When I was young, I'd go watch them work and I'd find myself watching them work. I go, "Oh, this is Bob playing the character now." I'd be in the scene and there'd be certain times I'd start watching him be the character, and sometimes I'd kind of giggle - I'd be out of it. I remember some guys had to say, "Pay attention now." And I said, "I just thought it was funny. I was watching you be that guy, you're so not you." And it took me a while to say, "Oh, this is what this business is." It was a kind of surprising thing. That sounds incredibly simple or naïve, but when you first are in front of the camera as a young person, it's what happens to a lot of people.
I realize these guys have never worked before. They've never worked as actors. They've never been in front of a camera, on a set. You'd be surprised at all the insecurities you can get as soon as you realize [and] start to think about things. "Well, this is gonna be on film. This is gonna be there forever, so oh, man, if I f**k this up, oh no." Suddenly you're like a centipede that can't move. I didn't want to have them ever feel, any of them go through the process of getting to know Kurt and then watching Kurt be Herb and have any sort of confusion there, or any kind of changeover to make. I said it would be dangerous. They're going to have enough to deal with. So I thought the best thing to do would just be stay away from them. And then backing that up, this is the relationship that they had with Herb, so it can't hurt. Progressively, then I saw how that did very much work for us. So as the movie was shot - because of a lot of the hockey stuff was sort of in order - then I began to spend a little more time with them and be a little more me in between takes. By the end, they understood and so the last, I guess it was about two nights to go, I had them all come into the room and we had some beers and I said, "Yeah, it's good to see you." But they understood. They really did understand by then.
How did you go about your research?
I met Herb a couple of times. I spent really good, full days with him and then I had lots of tape to watch and a lot of people to talk to. I talked to all these guys, and all of them had a different point of view. Jimmy Craig, his take on Herb is completely different from a lot of the other players because he was treated differently by Herb. He's a goaltender, you treat them differently. That's part of the reality of that game. So I had all that information and any time there was a question, it could be answered. I am really am sorry that Herb couldn't see it, but I would love to know what he thinks of it. I know the other players have been really gracious to me and said in their opinion, that was what Herb was like.
It was very important for me to get to meet Herb and begin to understand who he was and how he was. It's a lot of fun for an actor to have the opportunity to go play someone. It's confining, because the minute you see someone, you have your sort of vision of what they appear to you as. That may not be how they think of themselves. I know I come off differently than I think of myself. I'm always surprised by what people say about me. What are you talking about? That's nothing like me. Then my sisters or Goldie or somebody says, "Yeah, it is." And I have to realize that, and I think that's true for everybody.