Today brings the sixth episode of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers to Disney+, and if you’re a fan of the original film franchise, you need to catch up. That’s because today’s episode, titled “Spirit of the Ducks,” brings back some of the original Mighty Ducks from the movies for a reunion with their old coach, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez).
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers brings back Fulton Reed (Eldon Henson), Lester Averman (Matt Doherty), Adam Banks (Vincent La Russo), Connie Moreau (Marguerite Moreau), Guy Germaine (Garette Henson), and Kenny Wu (Justin Wong) for a special gala honoring the legacy of the peewee hockey team that made their Minnesota home so famous. We had a chance to talk to all of them about returning to the franchise that seemingly came to an end 25 years ago and what it means to catch up with these beloved characters.
Hey everyone, it’s great to see you back together for this reunion in Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. But I actually heard that in the original franchise, not everyone was honest about their ice skating skills the first time around. So how was it getting back on the ice?
Matt Doherty (Lester Averman): You’re not supposed to tell! That’s not public knowledge, man. You’re letting people in on the secret. You mean an actor lied to get a job?
Eldon Henson (Fulton Reed): The first thing they tell you in an acting class is to lie, lie, lie. I’m just kidding!
Garette Henson (Guy Germaine): Yeah, I definitely didn’t know how to skate when we did those movies. I think with most of us that was the case. They sent us to hockey camp back then for about six weeks, and we got the basics.
Marguerite Moreau (Connie Moreau): I also fibbed about that!
Matt: I think what’s really great about that is we ll thought we were getting away with it. We all lied, but they knew we were probably lying, and then sent us to this hockey camp and taught us how to play. It was the best. My favorite memories from those movies, and there were so many, was usually us playing hockey together.
Garette: I played a little bit of hockey after the movies in high school, but it had been probably about 10 years since I had gotten on the ice. But when you grow up playing a sport, it’s still always kind of there, at least on a base level. So it felt absolutely fantastic to get back on the ice. I loved it. I was sweating. I stayed out on the ice as long as they would let me. It was wonderful.
Vincent La Russo (Adam Banks): I would agree. I played a little bit after the movies in high school too. But that was it, so it had been awhile. But like Garette said, once we got into that rink that they built for the show, and it was just us skating around, I almost couldn’t peel myself off the ice. It was a blast.
Justin, how about you, are you pulling off Kenny’s fancy figure skating moves yourself?
Justin Wong (Kenny Wu): Maybe not the fancy figure skating moves, but being from Canada, I guess it’s supposed to be in my blood. So I played my entire life. And then watching these guys step on the ice, they didn’t miss a beat. It was like riding a bike for them.
So it’s been roughly 25 years since the team was together in D3, and I was wondering if you had any input about where your characters have been all this time and what they’re up to now. Did you get to talk with Steven Brill or the showrunners to work any of that out?
Justin: The funny thing about that is it’s written that Ken Wu created an app or something for some sort of tech company. But outside of the pizza restaurant, Steve came up to me and he’s like, “So what do you think Ken Wu should be?” I’m like, “What? I thought you had already written this.” So then he said, “Just come up with something.” I’m not a very witty person, so during one of those scenes, even though it got cut out of the episode, I said that I played keyboard in a cover band. I don’t know. [laughs] I just said something that I could think of that kinda related to my real life audio experience now. I think I also saw an article somewhere that Steve mentions that Ken Wu was a singer along with being a tech guru.
Vincent: I have to admit that I had always hoped that Adam Banks went pro. But I thought the lawyer thing was very fitting. It made sense, especially the fact that he’s a defense lawyer. Even more fitting than going pro.
Still a cake eater, but maybe not so bad.
Vincent: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.
Eldon: To be honest, I was just so happy to be there, I didn’t really come in with any preconceived ideas of what I wanted or what I thought would be right for my character. I honestly was just so happy to be asked back that I think I was as excited as anyone else to see where my character is now. It was such a fun thing for me. This is all icing on the cake. It really is. Just happy to be here.
Matt: I had 1,000-page novel about Averman going to New Zealand to find himself and became a guru. But they didn’t go with it.
There’s always a chance it could be a Disney+ original series on its own.
Matt: Yeah, it was right around 1,200 pages, so yeah.
Marguerite: That’s two seasons right there.
Eldon: There’s a good idea for a show. Averman driving a limo, all the trouble he gets into.
It can be a new Carpool Karaoke or Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee where you just interview people in your limousine.
Matt: It’s a niche. Maybe I can have my own YouTube channel.
Marguerite, it had to be cool to see Connie’s strength and independence carry over into her adult life, where she’s become a politician for Minnesota. Was that a satisfying place for Connie to end up?
Marguerite: Yeah, I was telling someone before that Connie’s spirit was just about doing what she wanted to do and feeling very strongly about it, so I think that carries over well into that job. And I think the producers had always mentioned over the years that they wanted Connie and Guy to be together, so I was really excited to see if that was gonna happen after all these years.
Garette: I was very pleased with where Connie and Guy ended up. I was happy that they were together, Guy being in a supportive role for her career, I loved it.
Before Game Changers came along, did you guys hear any pitches or have any ideas yourselves for a fourth Mighty Ducks movie?
Eldon: I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like I’ve heard whispers over the years about different things. Nothing really specific that I can remember.
Garette: I didn’t think that I would ever play this character again. I thought that it was this magical experience that I got to have throughout my entire childhood, and that was it. I had sort of laid it to rest. Maybe over the past five years, between Steven Brill and Jordan Kerner, there were talks and ideas of maybe some kind of reboot or new show, but it always just felt like it probably wouldn’t ever happen. So when this finally did, I was so happy with the direction they chose. I think they did such a good job with this show.
Matt: Yeah, there’s always been a rumor, but I think the timing just couldn’t have been better. It kinda mirrors the way the first movie came together at like a miracle speed. No one knew it was gonna be what it was, which is exactly how the Ducks are in the story. So now I think this is coming out at the exact right time when the world kinda needs a story where we’re cheering for the underdog that comes from an underrepresented community that’s often overlooked and discarded.
Eldon: I want to piggyback off what Matt said. These original movies had so much heart, and I really see that being carried over to this show. I just love that. I love that message of being a good guy, looking out for your people, looking out for each other, doing things for yourself. I love the message of this show and the original movies.
Marguerite: Just as parents, to have the example of it doesn’t have to be so serious. Let’s encourage that even in group sports we can just keep having fun. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. I found that to be such a point of relaxation in my body when thinking about how serious does this kid have to get so quickly, talking about my own kid. It’s nice to have that as a major focal point of the show.
Yeah, elements like that make this show feel like an anomaly, much like The Mighty Ducks franchise is now. Because it seems like Disney and every other studio isn’t making movies like this or The Sandlot or The Little Giants…
Exactly! I love that the show taps back into that and even hits on some things that I was surprised by, like the parents being so obsessive about their kid’s future.
Eldon: One of the other things that I really appreciate is – I was raised by a single mother, and I love to see the representation of a strong single mother with her kid and realizing that a family is about love, no matter what it looks like. To me that was really special to see, and I love Lauren Graham.
Marguerite: She’s so great! She said when she read the script that she loved it. To have a partner like that for Emilio Estevez, I was really happy to see that if he’s going to come to television that he’s got a girl who’s at the top of her game ready to dance with him.
Matt: Yeah, and personally, having been through this experience as a kid and knowing how fraught being a kid on set can be, seeing Lauren and Emilio, now that we’re adults, and the care they have for the group, those are the things that I love.
Speaking of Emilio Estevez, were you surprised at the more serious approach and the tension that arose between the Ducks and Gordon Bombay? I think with a show like this, you expect a more chipper and celebratory reunion, and even though we get there eventually, there’s a surprising amount of drama that escalates between you guys.
Marguerite: It’s so great.
Matt: Gordon’s got a story! Just as how the Ducks have been pulled away from the team they used to be, Gordon has an arc. I’m glad that we could come back once again and play a role in showing him what was important. I thought that was true of the movies and how awesome it was they were able to bring that back as the spirit of the Ducks. That’s the name of the episode!
Vincent: I think it had to revisit some drama, and there has to be a bit of a story arc there. I think it made sense. It felt fitting. And I hope it played well. I haven’t seen it yet.
Justin: It took me a couple times reading the script to realize that us coming back to this world, in that episode, is actually the turning point for Gordon Bombay. It’s him realizing that he should really like hockey and go back into it. It’s pretty cool that Steve integrated us into being that catalyst that turns Bombay back into a Duck, basically.
Justin, while we’re talking about being a Duck, since I’m a nerd about these kind of details, I have to ask why Kenny Wu has an original Mighty Ducks jersey when your character didn’t enter the equation until D2.
Justin: [laughs] That was actually given to me during the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 25th anniversary silver week. So even though I never actually wore that jersey, and Kenny Wu never wore that jersey, now I have one.
Is there anyone you guys really missed in this reunion who you hope to maybe see at another gathering of the Ducks, possibly in a future episode in another season?
Justin: Yeah, seriously, everybody!
Vincent: As amazing as it was, there’s no dark cloud at all, but there was a little disappointment that it wasn’t just the entire gang back somehow. Maybe it could be one day, I don’t know.
Justin: I actually wondered how much the script change due to COVID, like who else would have been included.
Garette: I would have liked it if Julie “The Cat” was there.
I think we need some knucklepuck action with Kenan Thompson coming back too.
Vincent: Yeah, for sure.
Eldon, you’re the one who gets to mention Charlie Conway, but Joshua Jackson doesn’t appear in this episode. Do you know what the situation is between Bombay and Charlie? Were you given any insight into what’s going on there?
Eldon: Uhhhh…you know…I don’t…I have had a conversation with Steve Brill, but…
Eldon: I don’t, uh, I don’t know!
Marguerite: I mean, that made me blush. Secrets!
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is available to stream on Disney+, and “Spirit of the Ducks” is out today.