(KGET) — The last time Emilio Estevez played the character of hockey coach Gordon Bombay was a quarter of a century ago in “D3: The Mighty Ducks.” It was the final offering in the trilogy of movies about a ragtag group of hockey players who come together to be winners.
Estevez has taken on a few acting roles during that time but opted to focus more on working behind the camera as a writer, director and/or producer. The few roles he tackled were ones that had a very important social message as in the case of “Bobby,” “The Way” or “The Public.”
He finally decided to jump back into the general acting pool and is making that return through a revival of playing Bombay in “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.” The new series is scheduled to launch on the streaming service of Disney+ starting March 26.
“To a lot of people, it had seemed like I had sort of dropped off the radar. That I wasn’t interested in acting anymore. The fact of the matter is that I kind of made a left turn,” Estevez says. “I exited mainstream motion pictures with ‘The Mighty Ducks,’ Part 3. I got into making independent films.
“So it’s interesting to come back now using ‘The Mighty Ducks’ as a reentry vehicle.”
Estevez was moved to star in the 10-part series for two reasons. The first was that he would be working again with Steve Brill who wrote the original “Mighty Ducks” movie. Brill is a producer and director for the new series.
The other reason was that Estevez has been told repeatedly by fans that if he ever returned to more mainstream acting they wanted him to play Bombay again. They also want him to play Billy the Kid again as he did in “Young Guns” but for now he’s sticking with the “Ducks.”
“The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” is set in present day Minnesota where the Mighty Ducks have evolved from being those scrappy underdogs to becoming an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. When 12-year-old Evan Morrow (Brady Noon) is cut from the team, he and his mom, Alex (Lauren Graham), set out to build their own team of misfits to challenge the win-at-all-costs culture of youth sports today. They turn to Bombay (Estevez) for help.
Brill says the evolution of the Ducks is the logical extension of where they were at the end of the three movies.
“They got better, stronger, faster, bigger. They got tied into the sports culture which seemed to get more and more out of control,” Brill says. “It seemed logical to us on the creative team that we would make them the behemoth and the team that might have gotten too corporate and too into hockey.
“And, therefore, where did that put Emilio if he was Gordon Bombay, if he was still with the team? And we decided he wouldn’t have stayed with the team. So we spun him off into his own journey. And the idea will be to reconnect him with the Ducks and the original Ducks, and that’s what the arc is like of the story.”
Estevez was able to slip back into the role of Bombay with ease because the character has a lot of similarities to the life the actor was living. Bombay has become disengaged from the world which is very unlike the way he was in the films.
During the run of the series, Bombay will slowly become the man he used to be.
“We see him getting reengaged thanks to not only the kids training there but also through Lauren’s character drawing him out, drawing some truth out of him, drawing him out of his shell,” Estevez says. “I think that we get a full arc for this character throughout the course of the ten episodes.”
The changes for Bombay allowed the creative team to take a very serious look at the sports world. Graham’s character doesn’t push her son to find fame and fortune but to embrace the fun of playing hockey.
Bombay ends up being the voice of reason.
Estevez says, “They’ve set him up as being a truth teller in terms of how he relates to not only the parents but also the kids. That it is unlikely that you’re going to be a professional hockey player. The chances are a million to one. You have a better shot of winning the lottery.
“And so he’s tasked with giving that harsh reality to them. How often do these kids actually go on and play professional sports? I think he helps them sort of understand the reality of that.”
The young players who hear his message are played by a group of young actors including Brady Noon, Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Taegen Burns, Bella Higginbotham, and DJ Watts.