Tribute's Bonnie Laufer talks to Paul Gross about taking on the challenge of writing, directing, producing and starring in the new comedy, Men With Brooms.

P.G. I hear you have issues with my film.

B.L. Ok, if you want to get right to it. Why Men with Brooms. Where are the ladies playing this game? We didn't get to see them on the rink at all.
P.G. Well, I was going to be in it so it had to be guys and they do play mixed games, but not at the big tournaments. Trust me, I struggled with that but it just ended up being this way.

B.L. You took on this very ambitious project about curling. What were you thinking?
P,G. (laughs) I don't know! I must have been stoned. No.. I think for one thing you are always looking for stuff that hasn't been shot a lot that hasn't been seen and curling has never been seen so I can say without any fear of contradiction that this is the single greatest curling movie ever made. It is a genre opening film.

B.L. Yes, you can say that for sure.
P.G. You know, there is something kind of weird about this sport that elicits this interesting response that doesn't know it. But once you get into it its just like the pursuit of anything. There's commitment and dedication and the sheer difficulty of playing it well.

B.L. What was the biggest challenge for you making this movie? You wrote it, directed it, starred in it, wrote some of the music. Is there anything that you DID NOT do for this movie? Did you shine peoples shoes on the set?
P.G. No, I did not do that!

B.L. Great, a break. There is something that I can say that you didn't do.
P.G. Also, there was no cardio-thoracic surgery. It's funny. You have to have these titles. I guess that you did this and this and this but they are all really kind of the same thing. You are just telling a story and the cast had as much to do with making this film as I did. I'm not a visionary.

B.L. No, I disagree. Obviously you are. You write a script you decide to direct it and you must have had some idea in your head as to how you wanted this to turn out.
P.G. I'm not trying to be artificially modest but so much of it is who you have with you and the cast particularly in something that is comedic you really have to have an open collaborative thing going on or else it just gets rigid. This cast was wonderful, not only did they direct me or help me direct myself but also they brought all sorts of things to the film that we hadnt considered. I think that enriched it and the same with the crew, people would constantly be coming up with ideas.

B.L. Take me back to the first day on that curling rink and what you were thinking.
P.G. I don't know if thought is the right thing. That's a charitable word of characterizing what was going on in my head on that first day. It was a nightmare shooting the curling. We didn't really have enough time and on top of it the ice starting melting because it coincided with the hottest May on record. So I went in with a shot list of nine million shots and they would say the ice is gone. It would be two hours into the day and I would think, "OK I can't shoot any of that what should we do now?" It was panic, absolutely blind panic for a whole 10 days.

B.L. How did you prepare yourself for this? Lifting those rocks must have been difficult at first, they weigh about 40 pounds, correct?
P.G. Yup, they are between 42 and 44 pounds of pure granite. We had to train. We had to learn how to actually do it. George Karys who is a silver medallist at the Nagano Olympics was our coach and he brought in some other guys who were good at brooming or help with slides. There was a lot of attention devoted to us four wobbly guys. Its a great thing that its a movie though because I can cut out the really bad wobbles that we have. If you got to see all of the raw footage of us curling its just pathetic.

B.L. Actually, you should do more outtakes. We get to see some of them during the credits, but you should think about it for the DVD version release of the film.
P.G. I want to make the auteur version for the DVD. I'm going to take out all the music and all of the comedy and subtitle it in Swedish.

B.L. That I would like to see.
P.G. It would be good. We could call it the film festival version.

B.L. You've put together quite a talented cast here.
P.G. Yes, I'm proud to say its the largest ensemble of Canadian actors in a feature film!

B.L. Including Leslie Nielsen with whom you've worked with before on Due South. So you pick up the phone and say, "hey, Leslie want to be in my film?"
P.G. It was great. And he is so great in this I think. But this is the thing that really irritates me. You look at him today and he's gone and cut his hair, he's shaved off the beard and he looks so fabulous in this film with the longer hair, don't you think?

B.L. He sure doesn't look like a man in his seventies!
P.G. He looks kind of sexy with that facial hair. Now he's back to same old Leslie, and that's not bad but I thought he was rakish in the movie.

B.L. I just spoke to him about the role and the one thing I said to him is that the role was different for him. It's got a bit of comedy mixed in with the drama and people are going to see him in a different light.
P.G. He and I had talked about that for awhile that he was interested in doing something that wasn't the type of stuff that he had been doing and try something with a bit of drama. He did spend most of his life as a straight dramatic actor and only recently has he had this other franchise. I think that he is wonderful and he's a great actor.

B.L. Men with Brooms isn't just about curling. You have a scene where the four curlers jump off a cliff into freezing cold water completely naked. Now I commend you for taking part, but did you have to pay the guys extra for that?
P.G. It was awful. It was as close to hypothermia as you can get without actually dying. It was hysterical though. When we eventually got out of the water we went to a tent with a heater that was set up and we sat shaking uncontrollably. The thing that is so depressing is that I really don't think that while you are watching the film that it actually looks that cold. There are evergreens all over the place, so that's why I had to put in the dialogue about it being glacial water.

B.L. I have to say you have done so well in Canada, you've always worked whether on the stage or film or TV or even with your music. But its not like the United States didn't come calling. After George Clooney left ER you were offered the chance to be on that TV series. Have you ever thought about what your life might have been like had you taken that job?
P.G. You know, I don't know. I never really had much of a strategy for anything. I know actors who plan careers but I just sort of do what seems to be interesting. When you think about it, Due South's success was really unpredictable. In fact, CBS wasn't really that high on the show when we made the pilot but it performed quite well. So after making the pilot I honestly thought that will be it, it will be over and I'll have to go back to Los Angeles. So, I dont know. It would be a totally different life but I'm glad that I have been able to remain in Canada. Its been very good to me.

B.L. Yes, you've been good for our country too.
P.G. Plus I wonder what life would be like had gone straight to Los Angeles when I was 18. I might be Keanu or Keanu's long lost brother!

B.L. I have to wrap up but convince me in 10 seconds or less, why we should all take up curling.
P.G. Oh that's easy.. You should be a curler because it does wonders for certain muscles that you are not yet aware of!!