Whether you know him from his current show ‘The Knick‘ or as young Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, Eric Johnson is an iconic pillar of entertainment. Not only is he a great actor, he’s also a massive Nation fan. Fortunately for all of us, Eric cleared some time in his schedule to sit down and chat with me about what it means to an Oilers fan and a Nation citizen.
Before we start the interview I just wanted to say thank you to Eric for taking the time to sit down with me for a few minutes to talk some puck. He’s a great dude, a better actor, and we’re thrilled to call him a Nation fan. Here is part of our conversation – enjoy.
BM: When we met, you brought us a gift of beer and beef jerky to Nation HQ which propelled you into the Hall of Fame. What is the best gift anyone has given you upon meeting?
EJ: Is there a better gift than walking into someone’s house and being handed a cold one? That has to be tops on my list.
BM: You are literally the most famous person I know. Why on earth did you agree to this interview?
EJ: Seeing as I am tied to a chair in the Nation HQ basement while you yell the questions at me through a megaphone while wearing the mask from Scream… I don’t really have a choice do I?
BM: Being as you’re from Edmonton, but no longer live here, is it hard for you to get Oilers coverage from the centre of the Universe?
EJ: Not at all. When I first moved away from Edmonton in 2001, getting Oilers news was a challenge. Not to pump your tires too much but the creation of OilersNation was a god send for us Oiler fans living outside the city. I’ve been an addict since and have been thrilled to see it’s growth. Jonathan Willis alone keeps us out here in Leaf land on the pulse of everything Oiler. It’s great.
BM: When was the last Oilers game you’ve been to? Do you get to go much?
EJ: I usually get to one or two per year. I’ve been fortunate to watch the Oilers play in other cities as well. Some of my favorite fan moments happen when cheering loudly in enemy territory. It’s a bit of a holiday tradition to get out to a game when I visit during Christmas. I still get giddy with excitement walking up to Rexall Place. I can’t wait to get a chance to watch in the new arena.
BM: On ‘the Knick’ you play Dr. Everett Gallinger who is darker character to say the least. Is it true that you have taken the pent up years of misery that you’ve gone through as an Oilers fan and repurposed it for this character, or did I just make that whole thing up?
EJ: You made that up but since you’re still yelling at me I’ll just say that you’re right.
BM: What is more difficult? Becoming another person on TV, or being an Oilers fan for the past nine years?
EJ: I’ve been lucky in my career and there is nothing difficult about being an Oilers fan. It’s not like I’m going to cheer for another team so the loyalty is always going to be there. The challenge is to find positives. Maybe Oiler fans like to delude themselves but despite the pain of being out of the playoffs and some disastrous seasons, one thing Oiler fans always bring is hope. That’s why it’s not difficult. There is always hope.
BM: What surprised you most this summer – winning the draft lottery, Peter Chiarelli being hired as President and GM, or Todd McLellan as the new head coach?
EJ: What actually surprised me the most was that all THREE happened. When is the last time the team was hit with three major positive changes in that short of a time frame? The hockey gods smiled that lottery day.
BM: Let’s suspend disbelief for a minute and pretend that you, Eric Johnson, have transformed into Peter Chiarelli. What kind of moves are you looking to make?
EJ: Like the 100’s of articles that have been written on the subject, I would start from the net out. Goalie first then two top four d-men. They might not be able to land that true #1 D but they have two young candidates for that job in Klefbom and Nurse. But boy would Dougie Hamilton look good in Oiler blue.
BM: Since you are from Edmonton and have followed with this team presumably your whole life, how important do you think is it to the city that the Oilers return to glory?
EJ: Having been a little young to appreciate the glory years in the 80’s, but experiencing those awesome playoff runs with the underdog teams in the 90’s and of course ’06. The city survives without the Oilers succeeding but man it’s a lot more fun when they are winning and nothing takes the sting of winter off than some playoffs in April. When the Oilers are winning there are more smiles and hi5’s in the city. That’s always a good thing.
BM: You were on Smallville and you were on Flash Gordon so you would have a better understanding of superheroes than most. My question is, which Oiler do you think would make the best superhero?
EJ: McDavid. I mean isn’t he already?
BM: When and where will we be able to watch season 2 of the Knick?
EJ: Season 2 airs in October and season 1 will be available on DVD and on iTunes this August.
Now can you untie me please?
BM: No. We’re going to need to stay here for a while… at least until the heat dies down. Praise McDavid – thank you.