Entertainment Weekly: ‘Cutting Edge’ star D.B. Sweeney on toe picks, broken legs, and awful sequels
In honor of the Sochi Games, PopWatch is taking a look back at a few of our favorite Winter Olympics-themed movies. First up: The Cutting Edge, the classic 1992 “hockey player meets figure skater” romantic comedy. We talked to star D.B. Sweeney — who played cocky ex-hockey star Doug Dorsey, opposite Moira Kelly’s snooty ice queen Kate Moseley — about the making of the film, the impossible physics of its climactic bounce-spin-throw (the “Pamchenko”), and its truly wretched sequels. Toe pick!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all: Do you resent people still asking you about The Cutting Edge?
No, it’s great. You hope people watch the movies over and over again, and this has become one of those movies for people. So it’s a great compliment to Tony Gilroy’s script, and Moira Kelly’s great performance, and what we all tried to do.
Did you and Moira have chemistry right away?
Well, I don’t know about that. What happened [was], I didn’t know how to ice skate, and neither did she. They sent us to Sky Rink in New York City, which was on the 10th floor of a building on, like, 9th Avenue and 50th Street. MGM rented out a space there for us to go skate. For three months, we skated almost every day together, and I would stay and play hockey. It let us get to know each other in a different way than a normal rehearsal process, and it was very similar to what the characters go through in the movie. I think it was just a very natural and organic way to build a history for the characters.
So you couldn’t ice skate when you first read the script. Did that ever give you pause?
You know, I had done Eight Men Out — I played baseball my whole life, in college and beyond and stuff, and I didn’t hit left-handed. And I learned to hit left-handed — that was extremely difficult for a baseball player to believably do that. So I guess I felt like I could learn it as well as I could, and then they would just have to use stunt doubles and trick photography and whatever else. I didn’t really worry about it very much until the first week of filming — Moira had gotten so good at it, and she starting to land jumps. So she landed funny on a jump, and she broke her leg. And that was the first time I really got nervous — I was hoping they could film her, and I could hide in the background. But now, a lot of it was going to be me with her stunt double [Sharon Carz]. And so I ended up doing a lot more skating than I had planned, and certainly [more] than the producers had planned. If you skate with an Olympic level skater, they make you so much better because you’re skating behind them, and you’re trying to imitate their stride and their stance. It’s like having the world’s greatest training wheels. So Sharon was able to make me look a lot better than I would have looked skating by myself.
Did she have a cast? How did that work?
Yeah, she had a cast on her foot — I want to say it was her right foot. And they did a brilliant job of hiding it all through the movie with selective photography and trick shots. To this day, the most embarrassing scene for me is where she and I go out to have some drinks and we’re dancing. She’s sitting on a camera dolly with her foot in a cast, and she’s just dancing with her upper body, and I’m dancing with everything that God gave me. And she’s a better dancer with no legs than I am.
There’s that really funny scene where Doug goes back to Minnesota and has to admit to everyone he knows that he’s been figure skating. Did you ever have to come out to your friends as a figure skater?
Well, I had a lot of friends in hockey, and before the movie came out, I told them, “It’s really great, I’m doing this hockey movie.” One of them, Chris Chelios, he’s in the movie just for a second in the Olympic scene. And then almost every single one of them, after they saw it, they said, “You still haven’t done a hockey movie. That’s a figure skating movie.” So it’s kind of similar to the character. But nah, I’m real proud of the movie, and I’ve become a big fan of figure skating over the years. I got to be good friends with Scott Hamilton. It’s a great sport. It’s a very unusual, funny sport, with the judging and everything. I think that’s what the movie mines very successfully: What kind of a sport is there where they judge your outfits? It’s very athletic; it’s more athletic now than when we made the movie. But even so, it’s a little bit weird that it’s so subjective. You know who won the football game by the score, but not in skating.
What did you think the first time you saw your matador costume?
I thought it was really funny. I thought it was just right. The costume designer was William Ivey Long, who’s one of the all-time great Broadway designers — I don’t think he’s done any other movies since then. [Long has done costumes for a few more movies, though only a handful.] I don’t think he really liked the experience as much. I think in the movie business, a producer can come over and sort of have an equal opinion to a guy who’s world-renowned. I don’t think he really liked that energy of the process as much as he might’ve.
I have to ask — do you have any idea of what a Pamchenko would actually look like, if it were happening in real life?
You know, I started having this conversation with Tony Gilroy, the writer. The way it’s designed, I throw her, and then I stand still, and I catch her. And you can only do that if she’s Supergirl and she’s going to fly back to me. So it doesn’t make any sense at all. So I thought, you know what? I’m not going to really think about it too much. It is what it is. And when I was spinning her around, it wasn’t actually Moira — it was a mannequin. That worked out pretty well, except the wig kept flying off the mannequin. So you start thinking about things like “how can I help the wig stay on the mannequin?” instead of worrying about the impossibility of the trick.
Read more at Entertainment Weekly.