Joshua Jackson

“Mighty Ducks” Returns

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA); 10/6/1996
Byline: Janet Weeks Daily News Staff Writer
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MIGHTY DUCKS’ VARSITY PLAYERS:
JOSHUA JACKSON, SHAUN WEISS, RETURN AS TEAM’S STAR VETERANS (L.A. LIFE)

The first dance, the first kiss, the first time Dad hands over the car keys.

Most of us mark our advances through adolescence with the usual mileposts. But Joshua Jackson and Shaun Weiss remember different major events: “The Mighty Ducks,” “D2: The Mighty Ducks” and “D3: The Mighty Ducks.”

“Our whole childhood is in installments of ‘The Mighty Ducks,’ ” says Jackson, 18, who has played team captain Charlie Conway in all three films. “D3” opened Friday.

If it sounds like Jackson is complaining – like he sacrificed something to play a hero in a wildly popular movie franchise – forget it. From age 13 on, he has skated from screen victory to victory, to the delight of adoring fans. And that beats hanging at the mall in his native Vancouver, British Columbia, any day.

“I got to be in movies. How many people, when they’re 30, can look back at high school and say ‘I made a movie?’ ” Jackson says. “It’s carpe diem.”

Weiss, 17, who has played the portly Goldberg since age 11, feels the same way.

“I regret not going to the prom,” he says. “But (acting) is something I excel at and something I can do. I have to chase my career.”

Indeed, “The Mighty Ducks” are a way of life for the actors. Every two years, the teens ship off to Minnesota for six weeks of hockey camp that precedes eight weeks of filming. In between, there are promotional gigs and screenings, autograph signings and charity events.

The work has paid off in a lucrative series. The first two films earned a collective $107 million at the domestic box office and millions more in tie-in merchandise, overseas box office and video sales. The success of “The Mighty Ducks” prompted Disney to name its professional ice hockey team in Anaheim after the money-making little quackers.

To the legions of kids who love the scrappy come-from-behind Ducks, Jackson and Weiss, as teammates who have appeared in all three movies, have become indistinguishable from the characters they play.

Weiss, for example, says he has been chewed out by pint-size critics annoyed by Goldberg’s lackluster playing. Jackson is routinely hailed in public by kids who call him Charlie.

“Kids definitely relate to us as the Ducks,” he says. “They say, ‘Could you pass this along to Goldberg?’ like we live in a Ducks complex.”

Again, they’re not complaining. In general, it’s better to be acknowledged than ignored, they say.

Yet both Jackson and Weiss realize that “D3” is probably their Ducks swan song. Both are too old and too big – Jackson is over 6 feet tall – to continue playing kid ice hockey champions.

“I think we’re getting a little long in the tooth,” says Jackson, who, if there is a fourth movie, would be 20 at the start filming. The thought of hanging up his jersey is a little sad, he says, but not as sad as the thought of never having been a Duck at all.

“We got to do it. There’s no regrets. I’d be sad if I was the guy they didn’t pick to play Charlie.”

“D3” gives the team, which won the Junior Goodwill Games in “D2,” some new challenges. The start of the film finds the ragtag group stumbling about the marble steps of elite Eden Hall, a private school that has offered the Ducks scholarships. In exchange, the Ducks take over as the school’s junior varsity hockey team.

After accepting the deal, the Ducks learn that coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is leaving the team to take another job. Their new coach, played by Jeffrey Nordling, is a hard-liner kind of guy who doesn’t approve of the team’s unorthodox training methods. He demands hard work.

The lesson: Even little Ducks have to grow up. It’s a lesson that hasn’t escaped the movie’s stars, who, like their characters, are moving on.

Weiss, who recently moved to Burbank from his native New Jersey, is now a regular on the new NBC sitcom “Mr. Rhodes.” Jackson will star in an upcoming Showtime modernization of “Romeo and Juliet.” He’ll also be starting classes soon at the University of British Columbia.

“I realize I might be closing out on my 15 minutes of fame,” Jackson says, “but it’s been a great ride so far.”

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