TORONTO - Montreal actor Marc-Andre Grondin was fortunate enough to land his first English-language role in the gleefully violent hockey hit "Goon," which pounded down its Hollywood competition to top the Canadian box office upon its release in February.
But given how the Quebecois actor exaggerated his slight accent for the role of the druggy, underachieving sniper Xavier Laflamme, he said the offers haven't exactly been rolling in.
"With the accent I have in the movie, I don't know if I'm going to get more jobs in English," laughed Grondin during a recent interview in Toronto.
Indeed, the 28-year-old speaks English with far more fluid confidence in person than he does in the film, which cast him as a hot-shot scorer relegated to the minors after his talent dissolved in a haze of drugs, booze and women.
The roommate to the sweetly savage titular character played by Seann William Scott, Laflamme eventually begins to rediscover his scoring touch as their rag-tag squad climbs the standings.
Grondin was already friends with Montreal actor Jay Baruchel — who co-wrote and stars in the film, which will be released on DVD on Tuesday — prior to landing the role. So he felt comfortable relaying his concerns about an early draft of the script that saddled his character with a few too many Quebec stereotypes.
"I was just like: 'I think we need to tweak it a bit because I really don't want to be the guy who (makes) everyone in Quebec say: 'Traitor!'" said Grondin, who starred in 2005's Genie Award-winning "C.R.A.Z.Y."
"I can laugh at myself, I can laugh at my culture, but ... I didn't want the fact that the character is French-Canadian to be the comic relief."
That ethos extended to Grondin's slightly exaggerated accent. To locate the sweet spot of his character's broken English, he used a simple guideline.
"I didn't want to sound like Justin Timberlake in 'The Love Guru,'" said Grondin, referencing the 2008 bomb that cast the slick pop star as an outsized stereotype named Jacques Grande.
"Even though ... I thought he did a good job for an American that doesn't know any French-Canadians that well ... I didn't want to sound like that, and I didn't want to use the swear words as punch lines either.
"I just made (my accent) a bit thicker. Sometimes you just take one word out and it does the job."
Grondin, a dedicated Habs fan, modelled his character in part after the expressive Russian forward Alexander Ovechkin, even taking stylistic cues from the flamboyant Washington Capitals superstar.
But while the film turned hockey pugilism into a balletic flow of flying fists, flowing blood and splintering teeth, Grondin believes the NHL would be better off banishing on-ice fights.
"I would be the first one to give a standing ovation (to) the NHL if they banned fighting," he said, suggesting suspensions or game-long penalties for offenders.
"During the Olympics, there's no fighting. You ask any fan what's one of the most beautiful hockey games they've seen in the past five years, they're all going to tell you the Olympic finals between Canada and the States.... We don't remember a great hockey game because of the fighting."
While Grondin hasn't been indundated with offers for English-speaking roles, he isn't exactly hurting for work. He's just returned from Prague, where he shot the French film "The Man Who Laughs," a Victor Hugo adaptation starring Gerard Depardieu.
Grondin, who shaved his long locks for the role and decided to keep the shorn 'do for the summer months, said it's been a pleasure working with the Oscar nominee.
"There's a lot of stories about Depardieu — everyone knows stories about Depardieu — but I've never had any problems with him," said Grondin, who called his co-star the "French Marlon Brando."
"People behave differently around him, and that can create problems. But him as a person? He's just like a 10-year-old kid with ADD. He's a funny guy."