Georges Laraque played on hockey's biggest stage during his NHL career, making it to the Stanley Cup Final twice. Now he'll literally be onstage.
Laraque will play the role of Fezzik from the 1987 film "The Princess Bride" in a live read at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, director Jason Reitman announced Tuesday via Twitter.
"Finding Fezzik, originated by Andre the Giant, is one of the trickiest pieces of casting I can imagine," said Reitman, who has directed other live reads including "The Big Lebowski," "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" and "Boogie Nights." "A French-speaking mountain of a man with fists for the brute squad and a kind heart. … Turns out I didn't need to look beyond the borders. I'm thrilled that Georges will be joining us."
Laraque has limited acting experience but was more than up for the challenge of being in the cast for the live reading of the film, which won the People's Choice Award for best film at the 1987 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
"Like every kid, I've seen it," Laraque said. "It's going to be different to play it as an adult and act it while we are reading it. It will still be awesome and funny. I did some kids' theater plays and I'm doing another theater play this Christmas for 'A Christmas Carol.' I love acting and I love that stuff."
The live read will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. The remainder of the cast will be announced later this week. Tickets are on sale at tiff.net, with proceeds benefiting the TIFF, which puts on the film festival, events and education programs. Working for a good cause is nothing new to Laraque, who spends countless hours on charitable events.
"Ever since I played, I've always tried to give back," Laraque said. "I'm an ambassador for World Vision, I built a hospital in Haiti with the NHLPA and the NHL. I do many things to help out and raise money for children around the world. I'm an ambassador also for Team in Training, one of the biggest foundations looking to fund cures for cancers. … For me, it's so important to be a role model because most children when they have success, they will remember meeting me or another activist and will follow the same path."
Laraque played in the NHL for 12 seasons from 1997-2010. In 695 games, he had 53 goals, 153 points and 1,126 penalty minutes. He went to the Final with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008. Laraque came out of retirement after nearly five years in March to play overseas.
"I played two games [with Lokomotiv Fana] in Norway in the second division. I had a hat trick in my first game and seven points in two games," he said.
Laraque had many memorable moments during his career, but one from a game he played for the Oilers against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21, 2000, stands out to him.
"The hat trick was magical," Laraque said. "To score a hat trick when you are a tough guy. When I got the hat trick in Edmonton and people were throwing their hats and I was crying because it was unreal. We were up 4-3 against L.A., and I remember the crowd chanting my name, so the coach put me out there, and Janne Niinimaa scored an empty-net goal. It was 5-3 with 25 seconds left in the game and coach puts my line on the ice. I never thought I'd get a goal with 25 seconds left and I did. I skated like I won 10 Stanley Cups. Wayne [Gretzky] called me after and said, 'Forty-nine more [hat tricks] to go and you tie my record.'"
Laraque made a name for himself on the ice as an enforcer, but those days are behind him.
"The fact that I was a fighter gave the perception to people of the type of person that I am, but that's not me," he said. "The way that I am off the ice, laughing around, joking, charity work, that's me as a person and human being, and that's what I want people to remember about me."