Based on Bill Keenan’s memoir of the same name, Odd Man Rush is a comical, coming-of-age film set in the quirky world of European hockey. It is less a pure hockey movie and more about what keeps you pursuing your dreams. Are you willing to travel across the world to a new place and cheap pay to pursue your dream? What is is that motivates us to continue pushing for this dream and then what would it take for you to stop? I had the opportunity to talk with Dylan Playfair who star’s as Dean Hunter in the film. He spoke about how this story resonated with him and his other upcoming projects.
Nancy Tapia: Let’s discuss a little bit about your career, but first let’s talk a little bit of Odd Man Rush. Congratulations by the way, it comes out in VOD and on demand tomorrow, September 1st.
Dylan Playfair: Yeah, definitely. Thanks so much.
Nancy Tapia: Yeah, so tell us a little bit about the film for those of us that have to wait til tomorrow?
Dylan Playfair: Yeah, definitely. So Odd Man Rush is a true story. It’s a memoir by Bill Keenan about his time overseas playing hockey in the European Professional Third League. It’s his story of how he ended up in Germany and Sweden and his time over there and what kept him there, the funny things that happened to him and the life events that took place.
It’s basically the story of what keeps people pursuing their dream even after they realize they might not end up making the NHL or achieving the goal that they’ve set out to and realizing the journey is the point, it’s not the destination. So for me when I read the book and when I saw the script, I thought it was a really beautiful piece set against the backdrop of hockey and less so a purely hockey film. And it really resonated with me because it was the same sort of process that I had gone through when I went from playing hockey to transitioning into acting.
Nancy Tapia: I was going to ask you about that. I mean you have hockey in your blood. What’s it like to be playing these roles and going back to hockey that has been part of your life since day one?
Dylan Playfair: Yeah. It’s always cool when you get to incorporate a part of your old life into your new life. And those are skills that I practiced and worked on for so long, not just the hockey parts of it, but how to work in a team environment and how to see myself as a role filler on a bigger project I guess, which is really what a hockey team is. You’re asked to do one job and play your position and work to a common goal, which is the way hockey games win championships. And it’s really similar to the film in that sense where you come in and you have this position, this role you have to fill and you really are part of a bigger picture and you’re part of a team. So that’s always really exciting when I get to do that. And then also this was special for me because my dad had the opportunity to make a cameo in the film as one of the referees.
Nancy Tapia: That’s awesome!
Dylan Playfair: Yeah, it’s really cool. There are lot of little cameos from various hockey icons sprinkled into the movie. So that was really cool for me to be able to see him in that environment to help him with something that was totally new for him, but was something that I’ve been doing for 10 years now.
Nancy Tapia: So you’ve mentioned you read the book. What scene were you looking forward to seeing on the screen based on your experience reading the book?
Dylan Playfair: The theme of recognizing what you have when you have it. There’s a line in the movie where one of the European guys, they’re talking to Bobby who plays Bill. and he talks about all the things that he wished he could do in the NHL. And he goes, “If I were playing in the NHL, I’d be doing right now, the exact same thing. I’d be in a bar with my friends, with my teammates, having a drink, watching the game, telling stories.” And if you don’t recognize what you have right in front of you, you’ll miss it and you have to sort of take time to step back sometimes when you’re in the middle of those journeys and go, “This is good. This is part of the journey.”
And to really enjoy that process because when I was playing, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get to the next level. And now I look back and it’s not the big wins in the games, of course championships are nice, but it’s the memories you make along the way with the people that really stick with you and becoming cognizant of that during the process, I think that was for me a really fantastic theme.
Nancy Tapia: Speaking of journey, did you make one back to the ’90s. I understand you’re soon going to be part of the new The Mighty Ducks Disney+ series. What was it like growing up with the original and now getting to be a part of it?
Dylan Playfair: Absolutely. I was a huge, I still am a huge fan of The Mighty Ducks, obviously. I think a lot of our generation grew up with that story and those characters. So when I had the opportunity to come in and be a part of the next generation, especially with the current creators and Steve Brill, being the original creator of Mighty Ducks and producing it and creating it, Emilio Estevez is back and Laura Graham is in the series.
So it’s literally a dream come true. I mean, as a little kid, I was always trying to figure out how to do the flying V in actual hockey games, which I wouldn’t recommend to any real hockey players out there, but the point is, it was such a huge part of my childhood and my brother’s childhood. And I think it obviously made a huge impact on the game of hockey. So not just on the film front, but also personally to be able to see the game that we all love so much gain popularity… and I mean it spawned an NHL franchise. So it really truly is a dream come true to be a part of The Mighty Ducks history.
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Nancy Tapia: That’s great! And if you don’t mind, can we talk a little bit about Letterkenny? I mean, that’s had quite a few series now, you’ve been doing for a while. What can you share about this long experience?
Dylan Playfair: Yes, definitely. Letterkenny is another dream come true really. Myself, Jared, Andrew, Tyler, Nate Dales, and Jamie LaPointe were all playing in the same big league hockey team out in Vancouver and pursuing acting as a career. We did a skit that went on YouTube in the beginning, and then it transitioned and was developed into a TV series and we were excited to just do one season, with the thought that hopefully it would be received well, and we’d see what happens. And that was nine seasons ago and we’re still trying to do more. We were on a world tour when COVID hit and it got postponed, but there’s plans to do more of those and more seasons.
We’re all just really excited about the show. We love doing it and I think the reason why people relate to it so well is because I think everyone who watches Letterkenny feels as if they know one of the characters personally from their hometown and it resonates with people. And it’s so much fun to go to work every day and make jokes with your friends. And that formula I think really comes across the screen where you can see the fact that we really genuinely enjoy hanging out with each other on and off screen. And that’s one of the projects where I really do make an effort to check in with myself and remember how special it is and how cool it is because it’s that same sort of theme we were talking about earlier of being aware of the journey and taking time to appreciate what you have right in front of you. Letterkenny, it’s just so funny. I would watch it, even if I wasn’t in it. The writers cater the humor to our individual strengths as actors but also allow us to riff in certain moments. I see the reception in the United States has also been phenomenal. People really do seem to like it and want more of it and feel as if it’s something very personal to them, so hopefully more seasons are coming. So I just trust that this COVID just wears itself out.
Nancy Tapia: Yes, of course. And Letterkenny is currently on Hulu for us. Of all the seasons, which one has been your most memorable?
Dylan Playfair: My most memorable, I think that’s easy. That would be season one. Because it was such an unknown as far as what was going to happen. And we all joke about it. We call the filming going to summer camp because we’re all living in the same little hotel and hanging out together. So when we flew out there to go film it, we really took advantage of every moment we had. And at that time, we didn’t know what was coming. We had no idea how it would be received. We knew it was a very different kind of show and we knew Bell and Crave and Hulu were taking a risk on that. So we really just had fun and left all that on the field, so to speak and it worked out really well. So I would say that was the most memorable season. And then of course, as the seasons flow and you start to get more familiar with your characters, the seasons kind of started to blend together a little bit, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but it’d be hard to sort of pick out a middle season, but I would for sure say season one was a special time for everyone.
Nancy Tapia: I believe you also have a film coming out, The Color Rose, a horror film.
Dylan Playfair: Yes, it’s really fortunate. I’ve been able to work with a bunch of really talented filmmakers and Courtney Page directed and produced and wrote that with Erin Hazelhurst and some other really talented local Canadian filmmakers and that film’s receiving a lot of positive attention and I actually got the chance to act with my fiancee in that movie as well. And then there’s another one, Summerland that I believe is available for digital download. And of course Odd Man Rush we’ve talked about those projects have all been in post production for basically all of COVID, they’re all hitting the market at the same time now.
Nancy Tapia: Just to wrap it up, what’s next for you after this? Because you’ve covered music, acting, hockey. You also produced The Drop. And you even partnered and made purchased Media Button. What do you want to achieve next? What is your next career challeng?
Dylan Playfair: Well, I’m glad you asked that. Directing for me has always been something that I knew I was going to do. When I was a little kid actually, it’s funny, I was talking to my mom the other day and she found an old journal and it said, “After hockey, I’m going to go to film school and learn how to become a director. So that’s something that I really am excited about. And all of those pursuits that you just mentioned have all led up to getting me to a position where I feel really confident in taking on a project as a director. So Jen and I purchased Media Button, that was predominantly a commercial production company. And that’s allowed me to really sink my teeth into commercial production and music videos and documentaries and getting a handle of the other side of the camera. My goal is to start directing TV shows and feature films. Alongside acting, of course. I want to act forever as well. Expanding on all fronts of the creative industry.
Nancy Tapia: That’s awesome! And hey, congratulations. I’m sure maybe one of these days I get to interview as the director of your debut.
Dylan Playfair: That would be fantastic! I look forward to that.
Nancy Tapia: Yes, we’re putting it out there, in the universe for you.
Dylan Playfair: That’s what you got to do, exactly.
Nancy Tapia: Thank you so much, Dylan for your time. And definitely look forward to checking out Odd Man Rush that comes out today on VOD.
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