TORONTO Actor Tom Cavanagh isn't at all bothered that his new film, Breakfast With Scot, is being called “the gay hockey movie.”
“I think that the attention that (label) gives the movie is more than anything you could do with any publicity campaign,” Cavanagh, who played the title character on the TV series Ed, said in an interview Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“If you see the movie, you realize at once that it isn't a gay hockey movie but it doesn't really matter ... If people want to throw a tagline on it that makes it easy to digest or easier to talk about, then more the better for us .... We'll fan those flames.”
In Breakfast With Scot, Cavanagh plays a gay ex-Toronto Maple Leaf whose life is turned upside down when he and his partner suddenly find themselves caring for a flamboyant young boy.
The NHL and the Leafs gave permission for their logos to be used in the movie, something that Toronto-raised director Laurie Lynd says has never before been done for a gay-themed movie.
But some hockey fans are evidently not happy about Breakfast With Scot. The Leafs heard from a couple of right-wing groups in the United States and Lynd says he got hate mail.
Cavanagh was surprised by the ruckus that erupted around the film.
“When the news broke (that we were making the movie), we were filming and there was controversy on the sports call-in shows. ....We were amazed. First off, we couldn't believe that anyone was talking about our movie, and second ... it's 2007, 2006 when we shot it; it took me by surprise that it would be an issue.”
“In a strange way, even though they were upset about the fact that we were using the Maple Leafs logo and the NHL logo, the angrier they got, the better it got for our movie.”
While controversy has surrounded Breakfast With Scot, the film itself is a fairly conventional family comedy as Scot (played by 12-year-old Noah Bernett of Montreal) struggles to fit in at school and develop a relationship with Cavanagh's character, Eric, and Eric's partner (played by Ben Shenkman).
Cavanagh was born in Ottawa and grew up cheering for the Montreal Canadiens. Since he moved to the U.S., he says he roots for all Canadian teams. Getting to lace up in the Leafs uniform and shoot scenes at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ont., was a thrill for the actor.
“At one point we had to set the cameras up and I put the jersey on and I had to wait for them to set up, we had about an hour. I was out there by myself — stick and puck — Copps Coliseum to myself,” he said.
“I kind of looked over and looked at the wing and I was like ‘that's the wing where Gretzky passed to Lemieux. ‘ You're standing on the same ice ... and you're getting paid to do it. If you're a hockey fan at all, that kind of stuff is great.”