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INT: Cahill & Craig

02.04.2004

In the role of 1980 National team hero Jim Craig in Disney’s upcoming MIRACLE, Eddie Cahill delivers the finest portrayal of a hockey goalkeeper since Rick Moranis in the 1983 classic STRANGE BREW. Though Mike Eruzione may be the most recognizable face of 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team that shocked the world, those who saw the game know that Jim Craig was the team’s real MVP. After Eruzione’s goal put the team ahead, it was Craig who stopped shot after shot as the desperate Russians tried in vain to tie the game. Last week I had the opportunity to sit with both Cahill and the real Jim Craig to talk about what it’s like to be a goalie, and what it’s like to play one onscreen.

Eddie Cahill Jim Craig

When you look at a film like this, how does it feel to relive these events?

Jim Craig

: I think when it’s such a special event in one’s life and you know how it affected people… I think that what I love about the movie is that it’s not about us; it’s about everybody talking about what they were doing and how it affected them. I mean, the first thing anybody ever tells me is, “When that thing happened, I was here. This is what I was doing. This is what we were doing. This is what it did for me.” And so, when I’m watching that I’m thinking, “Boy, 24 years later it’s doing different things for me, too.” When I’m sitting there watching I’m thinking, “This is a great legacy. This is a wonderful thing.” When I’m an old man and passed, my son is going to be able to throw this DVD in and his son hopefully – or daughter – will be able to see what his dad was like. You know, that type of thing because I think it’s timeless, this type of thing.

Are you surprised that it’s still so prominent in people’s memories, even after the fall communism and the U.S.S.R.?

Jim Craig: You know, sometimes I don’t think you realize how lucky you are. What I loved about the movie is that at the start of the movie, where it just takes you back and it lets you not only look at the clothes you wore but it tells all these really important things that happened. And how many times American soldiers have protected our freedom and all this stuff. So when I think when this happens, the legs this has and continues to have, is because it’s something that makes you feel really good. Eddie, you and I were saying this yesterday, it takes you to this special spot of yours. This little dream that you are afraid to tell anybody that you’re going to fail at. Maybe you are a singer and you don’t want anybody to know. You’re practicing and all of a sudden you become one. It lets everybody do that all the time.

Were you concerned that they were going to take away the social and political themes and turn it into a “sports movie”?

Jim Craig: I think what’s interesting is that most of us don’t even care that they did a movie. What we care most about is that they didn’t ruin the story. When I met Eddie for the first time it was really interesting because we just said, “Go with it, Eddie. It’s there. You don’t have to change anything, you just have to tell the people the story.” I think the movie did a great job of that.

Eddie, you’re one of the more accomplished actors in the bunch. Did any of the other guys come to you for advice?

Eddie Cahill: I think what happened was when we came together as a group, we pretty quickly discovered we had one goal to accomplish and that was to tell the story. Most of us – I think every one of us was too young to remember it – but being hockey fans growing up, we knew the story. When we realized we had that in our hands and that was the main goal, all coming from different backgrounds, all lacking in something else, we pretty quickly discovered not only that we needed to but that we could rely on each other.

It often wasn’t spoken about, it just kind of happened by way of the six week hockey camp that we went through. I think the guys realized pretty fast that I’d never played goal so it became about encouraging in that respect. But when we realized we had such a huge task that being in that group of guys, it really just felt like being in an inspiration and encouragement soup. I mean, it’s really what it felt like. It was just an ongoing thing.

People don’t really appreciate how grueling it can be to be a goalkeeper. What was that like? Did you get a new level of appreciation for goalies?

Eddie Cahill

: The first time I put the pads on was actually at the final audition for the movie, which was a game that we played. I myself didn’t have an appreciation for the physicality having never done it because the economy of motion is so small but so concentrated. You have to do so many things at once. You have to be incredibly focused, so relaxed, so fast, and I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s more than I’ve ever sweat in my entire life. It’s more than my legs have ever done in my entire life, no matter how far I ran, getting across that crease for the first time was quite an endeavor. I absolutely developed an appreciation physically.

Another thing that dawned on me about the challenge of goaltending, which doesn’t look like much – one of the hardest things that I had to learn was the commitment to stillness and how exhausting that can be. Waiting for something to happen because you don’t ‘do’ as a goalie – and Jimmy and I have talked about this – you wait for something to happen and then you react. That sort of stillness and focus infiltrates the whole because it’s an aggressive stillness, an acquired stillness. There’s a lot going on there.

Do goalies have more psychological problems than other players, since they’re always getting smacked with pucks?

Jim Craig: You know what’s really funny when I try to explain playing goal is if you go to work all day and you come home and you’re a different type of tired than if you go out and do manual labor. Well goalkeeping is both. You have manual labor and you’ve got all that stress. It’s almost like the movie “Terminator.” When a person comes up the ice, there’s 10 things a person can do, then there are 7 things a person can do – you’re eliminating things as a person comes at you. You are eliminating options.

You are like a coach because you need to know everybody’s position and where it could go and where it should go and why it should go. I think why I was better at European or International hockey was because they were much more intelligent when they play. The NHL is more like they shoot from everywhere. It doesn’t make sense. And so it was really a lot of fun for me to play internationally. But the challenge of goal is so much of a mind game; it’s really a lot.

Given your recent TV experiences on “Friends,” was it hard for you to persuade the filmmakers that you could do something like this?

Eddie Cahill: I don’t know. All I know is that I had him to inspire me initially, and then I just ran after it. The second I knew it was a movie, the second I knew they were doing this, I ran I ran I ran – did whatever I had to do.  It was an opportunity to play one of my heroes. Obviously it was Jimmy’s talents that inspired me at first, then it became the small things. It was the little things like seeing two Shamrocks on the mask. Being an Irish-American, watching him look for his father in the crowd and knowing my relationship with my father, it moved me. And that sort of took over. I wasn’t thinking necessarily anything, just do what you’ve got to do to try and make this happen.

How accurately does the film portray the actual play by play?

Jim Craig: That was very accurate. 

Eddie Cahill: That was choreographed. The tapes were studied by ourselves and hockey coordinators. [They] came in every morning before camp and it was, “Okay, here’s Play 1. Buzzy does this and that.” it was directly pulled out.

Jim Craig: That hockey looks pretty darn good. You know what I mean? To do that and recreate that was just… We were the biggest critics and we were impressed. It was pretty good.

What do you think of “dream teams” playing in the Olympics now?

Jim Craig: I don’t like them. When you give money to the Olympic committee as an American, you’re thinking that this is some boy or girl that has a dream. They’re going to go up through the sports festivals and they’re going to compete – almost like the Punt, Pass and Kick type of thing. And then all of a sudden you realize it’s just for corporate America so that the people who spend the money will get something out of it to sell their product.

The Olympics has never been about selling a product, it’s about the world stopping and saying, “Let’s all get together for this three week period of time.” The respect athletes have for other Olympians is incredible. When you take the Olympic Oath, I mean I get chills right now just thinking about the Olympic Oath. That’s what it’s all about. It’s isn’t like, “I don’t think I’ll have time.” You know what I mean? “I don’t think I’ll practice because my contract doesn’t say I need to.” Or, “Maybe my employer will let me off for a couple of weeks.” This is about you taking all this time off and committing to being an Olympian for your country.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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