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Lightning defenseman Matt Carle takes his talents to the big screen

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Lights! Camera! Carle?

Yes, you did read that right.

Tampa Bay Lightning fans who plan on seeing the 2012 comedic blockbuster hit This Is 40 in theatres this month may be quick to point out a familiar face.

The movie, which stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, is about the adventures one goes through in reaching the plateau that officially signals one’s status as “over the hill.” But in a surprise twist, it does actually have a connection to hockey.

And one current member of the Lightning’s defensive corps.

In the film, there is a 47-second scene that former Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere absolutely steals, in which he impresses a couple of ladies – one of which is played by Hollywood bombshell Megan Fox – by pulling out and showing them his false teeth.

But here’s the kicker:

There’s little chance perhaps that Laperriere would have had as much luck successfully wheeling the damsel had he not had his trusted wingman present, that being none other of course than Lightning defenseman Matt Carle.

Current Flyers forward Scott Hartnell also makes a cameo in the movie, as does former Flyer James van Riemsdyk. All four players, collectively, were members of the team when filming took place in August of 2011.

“It was just one of those fun, once-in-a-lifetime things I got the opportunity to do,” Carle said. “Honestly it was just the luck of the draw.”

It all started when director Judd Apatow penned a scene in which Mann's character and a friend, played by Fox, go to a club and meet a hockey player with false teeth. When it came time to cast, Apatow went for his trademark realism, looking for an actual hockey player with a set of absent pearly whites. A Flyers team official recommended Laperriere, who then recruited a few of his Flyers teammates.

Not just anyone, however, made the cut, and as Carle this week noted during an interview following informal practices in Brandon, his involvement in the film actually hinged on somewhat of a technicality.

Per specific regulations as enforced by the Screen Actors Guild, which has since dissolved, the Flyers players involved in the filming either had to be an American citizen or have a valid Green Card permitting them to work in the United States on a permanent basis.

Carle poses with his former Philadelphia Flyers teammates on the set of This Is Forty (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Carle, who is from Alaska, fit the criteria and made the cut.

“Before I knew it, about two days later I got a phone call asking if I wanted to be in the movie and found myself on a plane headed out to LA,” Carle said. “It was pretty cool.”

Carle, who had no previous acting experience other than “a joke class they make you take in high school or college,” said that filming the 47-second spot took approximately 14 hours. The scene, in which Carle’s lines were actually cut during the final production, features him standing in the club among his peers, merely there for moral support.

“It was pretty awkward at first,” Carle added. “After all of the shooting was done and I returned home, my wife told me that picking up girls in a bar wasn’t really something she hoped I would be good at.”

Luckily for her, as Carle admitted, it wasn’t.

“Yeah, I could see that,” Carle’s childhood friend and current Bolts teammate Nate Thompson said. “I actually haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m not so sure they’re going to invite him out to attend the Academy Awards or anything.”

Given the chance, Carle said, he would love to be offered to be in another movie sometime in the future, but didn’t sound too optimistic that the offer would come around again.

Thompson, however, is holding out hope that something similar might come along after he did touch on a few other off-ice skills honed by Carle, which include skeet shooting, fishing and cribbage.

“What can I say?” Thompson said. “Matt’s a man of many talents. His wife is a pretty lucky girl.”

It was Matt himself though, who starred in a mega-grossing money maker at the box office, causing one to believe that he’s pretty lucky too.

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