Josh Duhamel puked on his first day filming The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers season 2

·5 min read
Josh Duhamel puked on his first day filming The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers season 2

Playing hockey isn't like riding a bike — and Josh Duhamel learned that the hard way while filming The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.

Duhamel joins the Disney+ series in season 2 as the new head hockey coach, and while he grew up on the ice playing the sport, it had been a long time since he laced up his skates. "I hadn't skated for 30-some years. There is such a thing as muscle memory, but I don't think that muscle memory lasts 30-plus years," he tells EW with a laugh. "I played a lot growing up, but I had to pick between basketball and hockey, and I picked basketball because I was too tall and skinny to play hockey at the time. When I put those skates back on, it was rough."

He never anticipated just how difficult those first few days filming on the ice would be. "I was using muscles I hadn't used forever," Duhamel says. "Literally, the first day we went out there to skate, after about 20 minutes I skated off the ice, found a garbage can, and just hurled. I couldn't catch my breath. I just wasn't used to it yet. But now I've been skating again, and I'm back into hockey, and I might even get in a league in L.A."

It wasn't just the actual sport that took some getting used to. Duhamel initially had some hesitations about stepping in as the new adult male lead after it was announced that Emilio Estevez would not be returning for season 2. Estevez, who starred as the beloved coach Gordon Bombay in the Mighty Ducks films and reprised the role in season 1, exited the series last year over the show's COVID vaccination requirement.

THE MIGHTY DUCKS: GAME CHANGERS
THE MIGHTY DUCKS: GAME CHANGERS

Disney/Gilles Mingasso

"I know the whole series of movies and the first season of the show very well, and I knew how entrenched Emilio was as Bombay," Duhamel says. "I wasn't completely comfortable with that part of it because I loved The Mighty Ducks growing up and I've always been a huge fan of Emilio. Stepping into a part like that, you know you're going to be judged because you're not him. But at the same time, it's very different than what we saw previously on The Mighty Ducks."

As the second season relocates to Los Angeles, the team previously known as the Don't Bothers attends an elite summer hockey camp run by Duhamel's new character, Coach Colin Cole. "This is a much different vibe. This is summertime. This is Los Angeles. It's a hockey camp. And it's a very different character than what Emilio played, so hopefully the audience will forgive me," he says. "It's never ideal to step in and try to replace and fill somebody else's shoes, but I felt like the character was different enough that I didn't have to worry about being compared to that. This guy doesn't run away from the game, whereas I think Bombay was reluctantly dragged back into it. This guy's all about it."

The word Duhamel uses to describe Coach Cole, a former NHL player, is "intense." "He's all about the sport first," he says. "Part of his downfall is that because he loves the game so much, it's really affected his relationship with his son, especially after his wife died. He transposed some of his grief to hockey, and that in turn bled into his relationship with his son. He put a lot of expectations on his kid and is realizing that maybe hockey isn't the end all and that the relationship with his son is more important."

He loved digging into how "flawed" Coach Cole is, because that meant he had a lot of room to learn and grow. "He takes the game very seriously and takes this camp very seriously and expects these kids to do the same," Duhamel says. "The Mighty Ducks, they love the game, but they're also normal kids who don't necessarily put hockey first. It's a bit of a shock when they show up at this camp, both for them and for me. That's what makes it funny: he was expecting a different version of The Mighty Ducks, and these guys are not your typical attendees of this camp."

While Coach Cole initially butts heads with Mighty Ducks coach Alex Morrow (Lauren Graham), those strong feelings eventually shift into something... well, even stronger. "Sparks fly," Duhamel teases. "That's definitely part of it. She's like a breath of fresh air for this guy. He's been avoiding any romance since his wife died and been burying himself in this camp and in his son, and she provides a new perspective on things for him. He really respects her, even though she drives him crazy."

While Duhamel admits he only started watching Graham's series Gilmore Girls because his fiancée Audra Mari is a fan, he's now a full-fledged fan himself and can't believe he gets to "be romantic with Lorelai Gilmore."

"My fiancée is very excited about that part of it," he adds with a laugh. But what excited him the most about joining The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is how the experience rekindled his love of hockey — despite those rough first few days on the ice. "I wasn't sure if I was going to want to do this show, but then I read the script and I loved it. It was something for my son, he can watch it. I really liked the character. Plus, I got to learn how to play hockey again. I ended up loving this experience so much more than I even expected."

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers season 2 premieres Sept. 28 on Disney+.

Make sure to check out EW's Fall TV Preview cover story — as well as all of our 2022 Fall TV Preview content, releasing over 22 days through Sept. 29.

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