Jay Baruchel is the first to admit he’s easy to please, and making his latest film, the animated How to Train Your Dragon, gave him plenty to smile about — including fulfilling a lifelong goal of having an action figure based on one of his characters.
Baruchel sat down with Metro to talk about Scottish accents, unlimited hamburgers and why Canadians are so funny.
How did you like making an animated film?
For me it was a lot of fun because I got to record a lot of it in Montreal. I was able to just record and go home, which is pretty cool. It’s always fun when you’re doing it with other actors, but there’s something to be said about just coming in for two hours, doing each line 10 times, eating a hamburger and going home. I can’t stress enough how they always had hamburgers waiting for me. It was pretty cool.
Hamburgers were a specific requirement?
Yeah, it kind of was. Even when I did some recording for the DVD. I was only going to be in there for half an hour, and they’re like, “We got In & Out on the way, it’s coming.” It was amazing. Even in New York, when I was recording there, I’d roll in and they’d be like, “OK, we just sent someone out to McDonalds for you.” That was great.
Did you recognize a lot of yourself in your animated character, Hiccup?
Maybe I’m just a narcissist, but yeah, I saw a lot of myself in there. He’s got terrible posture, and he scrunches up his face the way that I do, and he gestures with his hands and he’s real skinny. Yeah, I take ownership of him, man. A hundred and fifty per cent. I’m just predisposed to loving Hiccup. I think he’s awesome. There’s this little dude on screen who’s like a mini cartoon of me. It’s like as close to having a kid as I’ve ever come.
Have you thought about moving to L.A. instead of staying in Montreal?
I’ve been acting out here since I was 18, and I’ll be 28 next month, so if I was going to move I probably would’ve done it a while ago. It’s a racket I’ve been running for about a decade now. It’s great, since I don’t live here they always put me up in a nice hotel, and if I lived here I’d just be another actor. But also I live three blocks away from my mother and the house I grew up in, and I live with two guys that I’ve known since I was 14. That’s just my home.
Why do you think Canadians, on average, are funnier than Americans?
Well, I won’t say that. I know better than to agree to that. But what I’ll say is we export a lot of funny people. Actually, generations of people have tried to answer that question. What makes us funny? It’s basically because we’re equal parts in Great Britain and the U.S., so we have two different comedic sensibilities put into one. It’s either got to be that or it’s the free medicine gives us more time to think about jokes. I don’t know, but there’s something in the water, definitely.
Do you get an action figure of yourself for this movie?
I do. I’m a Happy Meal toy, which is a huge benchmark in my career. For someone that eats as many hamburgers as I do, to be a readily available toy at one of the places that sells said hamburgers is a pretty big thrill, honestly.
In the movie, the adults are voiced by Gerard Butler and Craig Furgeson, while the kids are voiced by you, America Ferrera and Jonah Hill. Do Vikings become Scottish at some point during puberty?
(Laughs) That was always a question. I think they like that it hammered home the generation gap more. All the old guard talk a certain way, and the rest of us — I read a review where they said we sound like kids that could be found at any mall. But yeah, there’s a point when your balls drop and you start talking Scottish.