When I asked Ron McLean if he ever felt overshadowed by the personality and presence of Don Cherry, his response was immediate and concise.
But then he went further. “My honest answer is, my modus operandi in life is let your guest be the star, so I kind of feel good about it. But Don’s Don. I used to be the guy in Northland’s Coliseum in Edmonton peering around the corner, long before I started with Don. I loved him as a coach and a broadcaster, and then I ended up sitting there with him, so you can imagine -deer in the headlights all the way.”
Jared, how does it feel playing the man?
“I’m still trying to get my head around it, to be honest. I can’t tell you, growing up, how many bus trips I took, team prayers and games that Don was a part of. So to stand next to him is still a big thing for me.”
Jared adds that hockey players speak the loudest on the ice, and he actually played junior hockey.
Don, in typical form, buts in at this point. “He skated better than me! It’s the only time an actor skated better than the guy he was playing!”
We laugh and I turn back to Jared. Do you approach a role differently when you know that you’re playing a living icon?
“Certainly I infer nothing short of perfection and this time around in the sequel, we recreate a bunch of episodes in Coaches Corner and his broadcasting years, and we had the actual videos to watch and consult, and so we tried to get it exactly how it was.”
Don, how do you feel about that?
“I think it’s great. I used to watch him before takes and getting into the groove of my character, repeating lines, and one time he was standing there after a scene, and I came up and just touched him and he swung around and said “Ya?” and it was just like me. It was in the moment, you know what I mean? And he got right into it.”
So how did it feel essentially talking to yourself?
“Well, he came out of it pretty fast. Jared did a great job.”
You can decide for yourself if he did or not. The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story part II starts airing this weekend on CBC.