Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Whatever Happened To: The Cast of The Mighty Ducks

Though I'm sure that sports movies aimed at kids are still making regular appearances, they don't seem as prevalent. When I was growing up, they seemed to be everywhere. It's probably a good thing that they petered out. Most of these movies were based on either stupid premises (a dog playing basketball!) or formulaic cliches about the ragtag misfits versus the evil haughty team.

The Mighty Ducks, from 1992, falls into the latter category. Gordon Bombay, a one-time youth hockey star, is a successful Twin Cities lawyer who takes up coaching a struggling peewee hockey team after his arrest for drunk driving. Though Bombay is at first eager to abandon the team as soon as his term of service is over, he and the young players grow to respect each other, improve their game, and take on the top seeded (and eeeeeevil) rival team.

Despite the rather formulaic story, it was still an entertaining movie. Two sequels were made. The first, in 1994, basically transformed the story of the first to a world competition, where the Ducks faced off against the evil...Iceland. Then in 1996 came the third movie...which ditched Bombay and saw the Ducks getting into a turf battle with a prep school's varsity team. Lame. And apparently there was also a direct-to-video movie and animated series, the latter of which I remember being about the mascots of the most lasting effect of the films: the fact that Anaheim started an actual hockey team based on them.

So whatever became of that lovable scrum of skaters? Well, there were a lot of them, and though I remember quite a few snippets about the movies I had to rely on a Wikipedia page on the film series quite heavily.

Emilio Estevez (Gordon Bombay)

Bombay was your standard jerkass redeemed by forced interaction with children. He's been haunted for decades by a championship-winning penalty shot he narrowly missed in his childhood, and goes from being a hotshot lawyer to a professional hockey coach and player. Basically, he comes to respect and care for the kids and craft them into a feared force in the rink.

Emilio Estevez, now 49, is the oldest child of Martin Sheen. He's one of those actors who is recognizable but not really a huge star. Prior to The Mighty Ducks, he was probably best known for his roles in The Breakfast Club, Repo Man, and Maximum Overdrive. He has since appeared in a number of lesser known movies, including Men at Work and National Lampoon Loaded Weapon 1. He's also directed a few TV episodes of Numb3rs, Cold Case, CSI: NY, and Criminal Minds and played a young version of his father's character on The West Wing. In 2006, he wrote, directed, and starred in Bobby, a movie about Robert Kennedy, which didn't make a lot of money but was nominated for a handful of awards, including a Golden Globe for best drama. Estevez last appeared in the 2010 film The Way, and doesn't appear to have any upcoming projects at this time.

Joshua Jackson (Charlie Conway)

Charlie was pretty much the leader among the team members. He came to regard Bombay as a father figure, and part of the reason for Bombay's departure in the third movie was to allow Charlie to step up as more of a strong figure.

Joshua Jackson is one of the few cast members who have become well-known in the acting world. Turning 33 in three days, Jackson got his big break when he played Pacey Witter in the TV series Dawson's Creek from 1998 to 2003. Though he faded into the background for awhile, he once again found a successful TV show and has been playing Peter Bishop in the sci-fi series Fringe since 2005.

Greg Goldberg (Shaun Weiss)

Goldberg was a goalie and memorable character in an odd way; I remember he was one of the key players and got a lot of screen time (and even a full face shot on some movie posters). But now I don't remember much more than a gag in which he gets frustrated with the licking the initially unskilled team is taking at the beginning of the first movie and ends up just stepping aside to let the opponents take a shot. Wikipedia says he had a lot of fart jokes to sustain him and that he later moved from goalie to defenseman.

Shaun Weiss, now 32, has been occasionally popping up in small roles in TV shows. These appearances include The King of Queens, Freaks and Geeks, and Crossing Jordan. His last credited appearance was as a bus driver in the 2008 film Drillbit Taylor. Though he also appeared in a 2010 short film entitled 19 Shots 32 Kisses and the Co@k Blocker and numerous commercials.

Adam Banks (Vincent Larusso)

Sporting perhaps the longest description in the Wikipedia entry on Mighty Ducks teammates, Adam Banks is a wealthy member of the rival team who is acquired by the Ducks after it turns out that he actually lives in their district. For all the evilness of the Ducks rivals, Banks was forthright and loyal to the team (to the point of leaving the academy's varsity team in the third movie to rejoin his old mates). Banks also gets injured more than anyone, probably because he keeps ditching rival teams and provoking their evil rage.

Vincent Larusso, now 33, graduated in 2000 from the Boston University School of Management. Six years after this, he's still had a few bit roles in the acting world, including a bank robber in Superhero Movie and "Buddy #2" in an episode of Dollhouse. He was also in a razor ad. Beyond that, it's kind of unclear what he's up to now.

Guy Germaine (Garette Ratliff Henson)

Clearly I haven't seen these movies in awhile. Guy Germaine is the first person mentioned in the Wikipedia list of Ducks players, and described as one of the most skilled players. He was also on one end of the few romances within the team, starting up a relationship with Connie Moreau. He appeared in all three movies.

Now 31, actor Garette Ratliff Henson starred in a few other movies during the 1990s, including Arachnophobia and Casper. He went to Sarah Lawrence University and got married in 2007. He still dabbles in acting, landing bit parts on NCIS and Cold Case as well as roles in the 2007 movie The Mannsfield 12. This year, he'll appear in the short movie Greetings From Montauk as a surfer. His brother also starred in the series as Fulton Reed.

Dave/Lester Averman (Matt Doherty)

Well this one I don't recall at all, two names and appearances in all three movies or not. The Wikipedia page describes him as a goofball and deadpan snarker who is an easy target for opposing enforcers and is the second most injured player on the team as a result.

Matt Doherty, now 32, went on to graduate from Northwestern University in 1999 with a theater degree. He hasn't appeared in many things on the screen, however, aside from small roles in Boston Common, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and a few other movies and TV shows. He's still getting by, though, and will appear as Fred in the upcoming film Last Call.

Jesse Hall (Brandon Quintin Adams)

He's described as a power forward whose attitude gets him in trouble sometimes, and he bows out before the third movie; good agent, there.

Now 31, Brandon Quintin Adams was also involved in The Sandlot, playing Kenny DeNunez there, and as a young Michael Jackson in Moonwalker. He went over to television after D2, returning to film in 2001 as Terry in MacArthur Park. His roles are more sporadic after that, voicing Raijin in the video game Kingdom Hearts II and Mike in the movie Stuck in the Corners. Adams also released a hip hop album under the alias B. Lee and is still acting, though he's slowed down a bit.

Dean Portman (Aaron Lohr)

Along with Fulton Reed, Dean Portman is a fearsome power hitter and one of the "Bash Brothers" on the team. He's listed as one of the players who doesn't attend the private academy, but somehow manages to come back to deliver some concussions in the end.

Despite his imposing appearance, actor Aaron Lohr has actually done a fair amount of song and dance. He was Max's singing voice in A Goofy Movie and appeared as a dancing kid in the 1984 music video for Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It For The Boy." The now 35-year-old Lohr graduated from UCLA in 2000, majoring in film, and has showed up in several theatrical productions. Other notable roles include Marlon Baker in Sister Sister and the voice of Jak in the video game Jak and Dexter: The Precursor Legacy. His next slated role is Scott in Manslaughter

Fulton Reed (Elden Henson)

Um, this was the guy who was shooting pucks in an alley and took out a window in Bombay's van? I think? The other half of the "Bash Brothers," Fulton Reed has an insanely powerful if mostly inaccurate slapshot. He joins the academy in the third movie, but has trouble adapting to the new coach at first.

Elden Henson, brother of fellow Ducks actor Garette Ratliff Henson, is now 33 years old. He attended Emerson College but didn't graduate, staying rather visible in the acting world with roles in some recognizable movies such as Jesse Jackson in She's All That, Pnub in Idle Hands, Elden Madden in Cast Away, and Lenny in The Butterfly Effect. His last recorded role was as Gordon in the miniseries El Dorado in 2010.

Connie Moreau (Marguerite Moreau)

How much do I remember about Connie Moreau? Not much, as it turns out. Another website I found declares that she did little more than pout, "I'm not a girl, I'm a duck." She's described in the Wikipedia page as a recurring, independent female player nicknamed as the "velvet hammer" who starts up a relationship with Guy Germaine. She appears in all three movies.

Holy damn. Er, I mean...Now 34, Marguerite Moreau has strung together a series of bit roles as well as a few bigger appearances, such as Julie in Wet Hot American Summer and Susan Atkins in Helter Skelter. She graduated from Vassar College in 1999 with a political science degree, and evidently does theater as well. For the Losties out there, you might recognize her as Starla from the episode "Everybody Hates Hugo." She'll be appearing in L!fe Happens as Pauline and Caroline and Jackie as Caroline this year.

Russ Tyler (Kenan Thompson)

The Ducks get schooled in a pickup game with a Los Angeles street hockey team during their world tour in the second movie, and Tyler was talented enough that the team picked him up. His signature move, hitting the puck face on in a way that somehow made it follow a crazy path when fired, racked up a few goals for the team ("It's knucklepuck time!"). The Wikipedia page also describes him as "very loquacious," which is a kind way of saying he never shut the hell up.

That sounds like what I've seen from Kenan Thompson all right. One of the more recognizable names in the credits, the now 33-year-old Thompson had a successful career in the children's circuit with starring roles in the Nickelodeon shows All That and Kenan & Kel. He's remained a comedian, doing standup shows and joining the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2003. He's also appeared in quite a few somewhat unimpressive movies, the most notable of which include Snakes on a Plane and Zombieland (albeit only as a brief appearance in the opening credits in the latter).

Julie Gaffney (Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine)

With a nickname of "The Cat" for her quick reflexes, Julie Gaffney becomes the go-to goalie after the second movie when she prevents a final Iceland shot and to give the Ducks the championship. She appears in the second and third movies, and kind of stays in the background from what I can remember. Aside from the occasional spectacular game-preserving defense, of course.

Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine, who I must say has grown up quite nicely, had a few post-Ducks parts, closing out in 2007 with roles as a prostitute in The Living Wake and Nadia in Descent. She now devotes herself to cooking, competing in the same year on The Next Food Network Star and producing a webisode series for the network called "Conscious Cooking." The 33-year-old Jacobsen-Derstine now runs the food website Colombe Du Jour, which says that she graduated from Natural Gourmet Cooking School and works as a professional chef, cooking instructor, and yoga teacher who would be happy to say hello if you ran into her at a farmers market in New York City.

Dwayne Robertson (Ty O'Neal)

Silly Texans, there's no ice there! Nonetheless, Dwayne Robertson is described on the Wikipedia page as the "best puckhandler" on the team. A rancher and Southern gentleman who shows up in the second and third movies, his most memorable scene might be the one in which he saves one of the girls (Connie, I believe) by lassoing a malicious enforcer bearing down on her. Strangest penalty ever.

Ty O'Neal, now 32, actually is a professional ranch hand and member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He married a cowgirl in 2005 and works to train and quarter horses. It seems he's favored the ranch life to acting, as his last role was in the TV movie Tiger Cruise in 2004. He also had roles in The Postman, Wild Wild West, and American Outlaws.

Ken Wu (Justin Wong)

Ken Wu was a former Olympic figure skater who joined the team in the second movie. A skilled skater who was also soft-spoken, he earned a good deal of respect from the team's bruisers after putting their advice into action and pulling a towering Iceland player's jersey over his head during a scuffle.

Justin Wong, now 30, had only one more appearance after The Mighty Ducks series, playing a character in an episode of Millennium. Not to become confused with a video game expert of the same name, this Justin Wong has apparently disappeared or at least kept a low profile.

Luis Mendoza (Mike Vitar)

Luis Mendoza was one of the newer team members first introduced in the second movie. His main role was one of slapstick comedy, as he was a very fast skater but had trouble stopping once he was going at full speed.

Another 32-year-old at this point, Mike Vitar came into the film series with a notable role already under his belt; in the 1993 movie The Sandlot, he played Ben "The Jet" Rodriguez. Managing to get only a few minor appearances in TV shows when he was a teenager, Vitar gave up acting and has been a Los Angeles firefighter since 2002.

Hans (Joss Ackland)

Hans was the kindly old man and dear friend to Gordon Bombay. He owns the sporting goods shop where the Ducks get all of their equipment. The character died in the third movie.

Joss Ackland, now 83, is an English actor who has managed to dominate the stage and screen with dozens of roles even if you probably don't recognize his name right away. You may have seen him in The Hunt for Red October, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, and the BBC two-parter Hogfather. He's still active,and will be appearing in the upcoming film Katherine of Alexandria. It seems the second movie's Hans was played by Jan Rubes, a Czech musician and part-time actor whose most notable role was Eli Lapp in Witness. Rubes died on June 29, 2009 at the age of 89.