How come hockey players Ilya Kovalchuk and Evgeni Malkin and singer Ivan Dorn starred in this movie?
Boev: You know, when people come to see your new movie at the movie theater it’s not cheap. You have to bring your family, buy popcorn, spend your time, it’s a whole experience. So we have to make it seem like a huge event. In our case it’s interesting for people to see how people act when they are out of their element, especially if it’s our beloved stars who are the best hockey players in the world nowadays.
What about their acting skills?
Boev: Great! They were my favorite actors. I’m a hockey fan myself, it’s my main hobby, but the guys’ acting was great. At the start of the movie they play themselves, but then there’s a surprise and their roles change. At the beginning they played world champions and I think no actor could play a world champion, they wouldn’t be charismatic enough. But these guys have it in their blood because they actually experienced it. How about when you score the winning goal like Kovalchuk does or when Malkin repeated Gretzky’s record. They experienced this, so they were able to show it on screen the same way and it doesn’t look artificial, it’s real, no actor could’ve done it.
Kovalchuk, Malkin, Dorn didn’t go through the casting process, you just invited them, right? What did they think about it? Did you have to convince them?
Boev: Of course we had to convince them. Zhenya and Ilya are guys who don’t like publicity, they are real guys who play a manly sport. We had to convince them, they kept saying, “No, movies aren’t our thing, we have hockey sticks and skates, those are our things. Let actors star in movies”. But I said, “Guys, let’s do it. Just imagine how happy the audience will be to see you.”
If you are honest, what changed their mind, a good idea for the movie or their fee?
Boev: They didn’t take any money, we didn’t have to pay them at all. Well, we did pay, but it’s because we agreed to give some portion of the money to children in need. This was Ilya’s and Zhenya’s wish. Well, and about changing their mind, the turning point was when someone told Ilya that it’d be a fairy-tale for kids. Ilya’s a family man, he has three kids, he’s a great husband, so he’s into this whole thing. Zhenya’s like that as well. They are raised right. Every man would think like that. I told them that it’s a story about a little boy’s dream to win against hockey champions. Also this would popularize this sport. Every child would be able to see this little kid’s unbelievable dream come true. No one can win against Malkin, but suddenly this child does."
— Interview by Boev (producer and script writer of 12 Months) where he talks about Geno’s and Kovy’s involvement in the movie [source]
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