Patrick Huard and Ken Scott of the film Starbuck: Father-ready | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Patrick Huard (red jacket) in a scene from Starbuck.

Patrick Huard and Ken Scott of the film Starbuck

Father-ready

Apr 05, 2013 Web Exclusive
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David Wozniak, the 42-year-old butcher played by Patrick Huard in the French Canadian comedy, Starbuck, has done foolish things in life. He married a Russian woman who promised to be his maid for a year, invested in Cuban cigars with a stranger, and purchased a Hall and Oates guitar pick for $500. Between 1988 and 1990, he donated sperm to a local fertility clinic 696 times under the code name Starbuck. Now, more than 20 years later, he’s learned through a lawyer that he fathered 533 children. Of those offspring, 142 have filed a class-action lawsuit against the clinic to have Starbuck’s identity revealed.

When Huard sits down to discuss the film with director Ken Scott, he’s unrecognizable at first. He has short, grey hair, is clean-shaven and dressed in a suit. By contrast, his character, David, sports wavy, medium-length hair, has stubble on his face, and is prone to donning a red sweat jacket. Underneath, there might be an Avengers t-shirt to complement the San Diego Padres cap on his head. David appears to be stuck in his teens or early 20s.

“I wanted to have no structure at all,” Huard says. “That was my perception of the character. I wanted everything to be loosea little too big there, a little too small thereso you’d feel like this guy is this big bear all the time. For a lot of reasons, because I don’t think this guy was structured in any way. And I think visually it gets to the audience. The other reason, I wanted it to feel natural that people would like to be in his arms.”

David is a warmhearted man who’s made a perpetual series of mistakes. He’s flakey but well-intentioned. He has a girlfriend, but unbeknownst to her, he’s $80,000 in debt. The discovery of his 142 children only makes matters worse, another secret he has to keep from her. David’s curiosity compels him to seek out, observe, and interact with the children that he fathered, now young adults, without revealing his identity. He decides that, while he can’t be a dad to 142, maybe he can be a guardian angel to them.

Huard, a comedian, is a 20-year entertainment industry veteran who has acted on stage, authored books, hosted programs, directed, and produced. While pointing to his suit, he explains that a person would be less inclined to hug him, cry on him, or sneeze on him dressed that way. He believes that David’s casual attire projects a sense of comfort and makes the character more endearing.

“I wanted him to look father-ready all the time,” Huard says, “so he can jump, he can run, he can be in the rain. It doesn’t matter at all, that’s what he’s good at.”

Scott broke into film as a screenwriter, penning four features before directing his first, 2009’s Sticky Fingers. He co-wrote Starbuck with Martin Petit. Scott had longed to work with Huard, who appeared in the first feature that Scott wrote, 2000’s La vie après l’amour. Scott felt that Starbuck was finally the right project for Huard.

“It is a character that’s very flawed and makes bad decision after bad decision,” he says. “So we needed to have an actor that was able to do things in a way that an audienceeven though he has all these flawswould want to follow him into this journey of discovering all these kids. And that’s where Patrick had come into play.”

When Scott and Petit conceived the idea of a sperm donor who discovers that he’s fathered numerous children, they thought their original number of 150 was outrageous. A month into the project, a news story broke out about a donor who had fathered 500 children, so they adjusted their count. The challenge would be to make such a character relatable. Casting Huard was one step, but Scott went further.

“Someone that has done that could be easily perceived as being strange or unlikeable, so we were looking for a way to create a character that would be likeable,” he says. “It brought us to this neighborhood in Montreal that’s called the Mile End, where there’s a small Polish community. There are different ethnic communities also. But it’s also a small neighborhood that’s not formatted. It still has small coffee shops, small butcher shops that are very authentic and real. We thought that that was a great community. That gave a lot of personality to this character and made him, we felt, very likable.”

“I think this story gave us a chance to show a great father on the screen,” Huard says. “I’m a father, and I was a little tired of seeing men and fathers in the media and everywhere as people basically absent and not really involved. That was not the reality I was in.”

Last September, Scott shot an English-language remake of the film, starring Vince Vaughn and titled Delivery Man.

“It was very exciting because everything came together very fast and we got interest from a great studio, DreamWorks,” Scott says. “They were very excited about the project. And we got Vince Vaughn to come on board right away, and we felt that he was the right guy. He loved the movie, and we found a window where he could be available for us, and everything happened in a great way. I feel that it’s a great story. It’s a story that I’ve been living with for some time now, having done the original and now doing this one. But I think it’s fun to be getting this story out there.”

starbuckmovie.com

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