Jay Baruchel is an up-and-comer in a big way -- and has been since around the start of the millennium. Yet even now, with leads in three studio movies and a Canadian indie all coming out within four months of each other, his mind is not blown.
“I don’t put any stock in this at all because I’m a chronic ‘cusper,’ ” says the lanky, 27-year-old, maple-syrup-bleeding Canadian who still lives in Montreal. He has been in the business for more than a decade and has alternated between supporting parts in big Hollywood films and leads in his homeland.
“I’ve been on the bubble here for 10 years. After ‘Undeclared’ , after ‘Knocked Up’ , after ‘Million Dollar Baby’ , after ‘Tropic Thunder’ , people were like, ‘Watch out for this kid, he’s gonna be big next year!’ ” he says with a sly grin, between trips to the patio to exhale his Camel smoke.
The first in this new barrage of Baruchel is this week’s “She’s Out of My League,” in which he plays Kirk, a “5" on the 1-to-10 scale of looks, who falls for Molly (Alice Eve), a “10.”
“It was a weird mixed blessing when I got the offer: ‘Thank you for giving me the job . . . but that’s what you think of me?’ Whatever semblance of vanity or narcissism, or even dignity, I had, I had to throw it to the wayside,” he says, laughing.
But as harsh as it may seem to be cast as a humorous contrast to a beauty, it could have been worse.
“In the first draft, there are probably references to him being a 1,” says the actor. "[Director Jim Field Smith] and I thought that the movie is less on-the-nose if he’s closer to just average than if he is, like, repulsive. It was a fight to get from 1 to 5. Five is the victory.”
He soon found the task had its quirks and perks.
“There were some days when I would say, ‘What the . . . do I do for a living?’ -- having a dog lick pâté off my crotch for 12 hours,” he says of one of the more outré scenes. “When I got home, it was like ‘The Crying Game.’ I took the most depressing shower ever. Then there would be days when I just had to make out with Alice, and it was like, ‘I picked the right job.’ ”
Yet it is perhaps his work on the animated “How to Train Your Dragon” (opening March 26), as a teenager who bonds with one of the fire-breathing enemies of his Viking clan, that indicates the actor is growing up. Sort of.
“I don’t have a kid yet, but seeing Hiccup -- I started crying,” Baruchel says of the character created from his voice and mannerisms. “I’ve been a part of his life for three years, man. So at the end of it to see this little dude come out and he acts a little like me and it’s my voice, it was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my kid!’ ”
He’s excited about all his upcoming releases, which include “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with Nicolas Cage and “The Trotsky,” directed by a dear friend from Montreal. But Baruchel waxes enthusiastic for “Dragon” with a fire he reserves otherwise only for hockey:
“I think it’s a lot funnier than people realize and a lot more moving.”