- Jay Baruchel spoke to Insider about playing BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis in a new movie.
- We chat about his hatred for the iPhone, his equal hatred for the wig he wears in the movie, and more.
- “BlackBerry” opens in theaters on Friday.
Jay Baruchel’s anxiety-filled comedic talents made him one of the stars of Judd Apatow projects like “Undeclared” and “Knocked Up” in the early 2000s, and later as the voice of Hiccup on the hit “How to Train Your Dragon” animated franchise.
And that’s what makes his performance on “BlackBerry” so good.
As one of the founding Canadian smartphone nerds, he dominates the screen without leaning on the things that made him famous.
Directed by Matt Johnson, “BlackBerry” chronicles the rise and dramatic fall (thanks to the iPhone) of the first device that allowed you to make calls and send emails at the same time. A cross between “The Social Network” and an episode of “Silicon Valley,” this comedy is driven by its two main characters: co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, played by Baruchel and the star of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Glenn Howerton. .
While Howerton’s Balsillie is a tinderbox of fury, Baruchel’s Lazaridis transitions from nebbish innovator to corporate shark, complete with slicked-back white hair, tailored suits, and a bewilderment as to why anyone would want a screen-only phone. and not have keys to write.
For Baruchel, 41, it’s a performance that shows his growth as an actor. Even though it meant having to do it in an extremely uncomfortable wig all the time.
“I would have to take three showers to get all the glue off,” the actor told Insider.
Here, Baruchel chatted with us about his hatred of the iPhone, Arnold Schwarzenegger wiping snot off his face while filming the upcoming Netflix show “FUBAR,” and why we shouldn’t be under any illusions about him teaming up with Seth Rogen and the other ensemble. of Apatow any time soon.
It seems that, in the last few years, he stopped using a BlackBerry.
Yes, 100%, and I still miss it. I hate the iPhone I’m talking about right now, and not just the one I’m holding, I hate them all!
And basically, you were guilty of switching to an iPhone.
Correct. That is exactly correct. Everyone moved on. When my mother told me that she had to adapt to the times, I realized that it was time. And I don’t need half the crap that’s on this thing.
Being from Canada, one of the main reasons you were drawn to “Blackberry” was to be able to highlight an innovation created by Canadians, right?
And one that I really liked. And it’s not like this is a commercial for it. I have no interest in doing any version of corporate propaganda. I’m not even that interested in a love letter to a product, but what I’m interested in is calling attention to some pretty deep and important innovation.
If anyone is interested in how the way we communicate and interact is highly dependent on smartphones, then it should be interesting to see where it started. Everything is crazier when you find out that the innovation was made by some nerds in Waterloo in the late 1990s.
Frankly, the foundation of how we live and communicate today is this device.
That’s the thing. I’m less interested in how much people liked it when it was available. What I think is much more interesting is how fundamental it is to this world that we are in today. Especially that BlackBerry is somewhat forgotten. The iPhone has given us all amnesia in some way.
But in terms of Canadian ingenuity, it’s taking the spotlight right now. There is this film, as well as the Super Bowl Commercial by Dave Grohl giving love to all things invented in Canada. Have you seen that?
Oh! Brilliant. [Laughs.]
Have you never seen it?
No, I haven’t. That’s great.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, is this your first time playing a real life person?
I mean, technically, the guy I played on “Almost Famous” was a real person.
Mike Lazaridis is slightly richer and more famous than that guy.
[Laughs.] You are not wrong. Mike is slightly richer than anyone he’s ever met, combined. But I think you’re right, he had never thought about it, but yes.
Did you do a deep dive on Lazaridis or just go by the script?
The script. And actually, that was one of the first questions I asked Matt: “How interested are you in phishing?” He was curious as to what his priorities were.
He was much more interested in me and the “good music”, let’s say, that comes out of me. He wanted to see how that would sound with the notes he had written. So the Mike in his script isn’t necessarily the Mike in real life.
This is not from the transcripts. This is not a recreation of a documentary. This is a meditation or a poem based on a book based on true events. So I left the Mike on the page.
And it’s clear that you’re doing things in this movie that are very foreign to Jay Baruchel. The ticking and mannerisms that we have come to know from you are not in this performance. Was it a challenge not to go back to the old bag of tricks?
It was something that MJ and I talked about from the beginning. Once we realized that the guy we were going to create was going to be something that wasn’t a Mike imitation and also something I’d never done before, I really tried to get rid of the things that would be crutches. : I move my hands a lot when I talk, I have a damn instinct to tell a joke in a scene, all the stuff one develops is on set every year since 1995.
I tried to mitigate and play defense against it. We felt the tension it would create would be interesting, just the effort of resisting my urges.
It was challenging and fun, but every night I would come home and think I sucked. Then when I started wearing the really serious fucking wig towards the end of the movie, which took two hours to put on and over an hour to take off, all I thought was, “Thank the fuck I took the wig off. “
At the same time, I was also doing this Arnold Schwarzenegger show that I’m on.
“FUBAR” on Netflix. So you were going back and forth filming both at the same time?
Yeah. That’s why I couldn’t dye my hair for “BlackBerry.” I basically had my normal hair because I needed it to “FUBAR” and I had to glue it all together and put on a bald cap to put on the wig.
It didn’t help that there was a strong heat wave at the same time we were doing “BlackBerry.”
So finally when you saw the pictures you realized it was worth it.
You know what, when we were filming. Even if I questioned myself, I knew that what was being filmed was spectacular. I knew that Glenn was amazing and that Matt was running everything. I knew it was fucking good.
And to your point, I have to highlight the last shot of the film. I won’t give it away, just to say that it’s very much an ode to the end of “The Wolf of Wall Street” where DiCaprio tells all the people in his talk, “Sell me this pen.” Was that a scene where you knew you were in the right movie?
Oh yeah. And to be honest, he was upset about something when we filmed that, so he upped the performance in that scene. I forget why he was in a bad mood, but it worked because, in that shot, Mike is in a bad mood. So even though I was upset I knew the job was good. You know it’s going to be a good movie.
And there’s another great scene. You and horror movie icon Michael Ironside get a brief look down. It’s so good that the scene score has a “Scanners” vibe to it.
Which I didn’t really understand until I saw it in the post. I didn’t have a bump on it back in the day. I really hope I brought my game for that scene. He didn’t want to make Michael Ironside look bad.
But the movie fan part of me felt like if we were successful at everything before this scene, then this scene would land like a motherfucker.
You mentioned “FUBAR”, what was it like working opposite Schwarzenegger?
Crazy. For someone who was born in 1982 and therefore was a teenager when Schwarzenegger was at his peak, working with basically my John Wayne was spectacular.
I play her daughter’s boyfriend on the show. He was great and even wiped some snot off my face. He was crazy.
It was a quick reset in one scene because we were running out of time and they had already clicked on the board and Arnold said: [speaking in Schwarzenegger accent] “Wait, you’ve got shit on your face,” and I was like, “What?” And he just wiped it off my face.
He was like, “Oh, it’s a booger,” and he moved it and we went ahead with the scene. So Arnold Schwarzenegger wiped the snot off my face. [Laughs.] Sometimes this job is just a fucking banana.
Do you see yourself playing Hiccup again in the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise?
If they asked me back and Dean were part of it, I would be willing to do it. I think he is already evolving into something else because they are doing a live-action.
I’m excited to see the real life interpretation of what the kid looks like. I love Hiccup, so if Dean was there and wanted me back, he’d be there in a heartbeat.
Has there been any talk between you and Judd Apatow’s gang (Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Martin Starr) about doing something together again?
Not precisely. To be honest, we just carry different universes.
There is love there, but the love of someone you intervene with four times a year. It’s like a cousin. I live in Toronto, and I’m doing my shit. They’re in LA and doing their thing.
I think people like the shit we did, so I figure if it all made sense, we’d all be into it. But no, I don’t think it’s something any of us feel like doing.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.