This week marked the 25th anniversary of the release of “The Mighty Ducks,” a movie about a scrappy PeeWee hockey team overcoming the odds that impacted an entire generation of sports lovers. To commemorate the occasion, Excelle spoke with actress Marguerite Moreau, who played Connie Moreau in the trilogy, about her role in the iconic film that inspired girls to believe that they too could take the ice and face off with the boys. Moreau revealed the gruesome moment that made her fall in love with hockey, which actor was the worst skater, and just how difficult it was for Ducks to learn how to fly together. But ultimately Excelle discovered that this film, which continues to resonate with audiences decades after its release, still holds a special place in the heart of one of its biggest stars. Here’s what Moreau had to say:
How often do you get recognized as Connie Moreau?
All the time. All. The. Time. It’s wonderful. The last person I think totally surprised me. Someone at TSA at the airport. Then they name-drop Connie specifically, and I’m like, “I’m very impressed, sir.”
Do people quack at you?
Sadly, I probably do more quacks than the other way around. That’s just my way. Everyone either says they loved “The Mighty Ducks” or that it was an important movie for them. It’s a very nice connection to have with people.
How old were you when you auditioned?
My people were worried that if they thought I was a 13-year-old, they would think I was too old (for the role). They told me to lie and say I was 12, and it shook my boots. I guess, shook me in my boots. Is that what the term is?
Had you shaking in your boots?
Yes, thank you. Oh my god, my mom’s going to crack up if this is a word-for-word transcription. I’m just going to stop talking.
What made you want to go out for this role?
I actually didn’t know what I was going out for. I got the material, and it was very vague because Connie doesn’t have any real scenes. I think they had me auditioning for the role using the material for Karp. I remember messing up Charlie Conway’s nickname. I think he called him “Spaz-roy” and I kept getting it wrong. (Ed. note: The nickname was “Spaz-way.” Moreau mentioned mistakenly saying “Spaz-roy” in Time’s oral history of the movie.)
So that’s what I remember, not being really sure what the project was. But I got the callback on the day I was moving from one town to another and signing out of all my classes. And my dad had to literally put a couch down that he was moving into the truck, go to school and pick me up. And I’m like, “Dad, you’re early. I’m not finished saying goodbye.” And he’s like, “We need to go to Los Angeles right now. You got a callback for this thing.” And I was so shocked that my dad would take time off on such a big day and be like, this is a priority too.
Then after that, I don’t think I heard anything else for another week. This is just a side note, but I was trying to integrate into the new school quickly, and they were having cheerleading tryouts with really athletic cheerleaders at my new school. And I thought, I’ll go to all the clinics and that’ll be a fun way to meet people. They were very tumble-centric. A lot of jump high-kick things that I couldn’t do. I told my mom that I didn’t think I was going to make it, and she was like, “Honey, I don’t think you are either.” And I looked at her like, “How could you say that?” She goes, “Because you’re going to Minneapolis on Monday. You booked the movie.” It was so out of my realm at the moment because so many new things were happening for me. I didn’t even know until I got there and got the script that I was going to be there the entire time. It was so shocking. It was an amazing adventure to find myself on. It was totally incredible.
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Did you know how to skate?
I had skated before at the local rink before they turned it into a hardware store. But I would say that I probably had the best skating ability of all the kids in the first movie because I had a lot of balance and picked it up pretty quickly. But nothing like the skills that I would learn while training to be in the movie.
What was the hockey bootcamp like before you filmed?
It was f—ing hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I did some soccer clinics and stuff when I was a kid, like played on AYSO. But they treated us like a real team. They trained us with our doubles. We really spent time doing the rudimentary things you would to build a real hockey team. It was an incredible, difficult, physical experience, but one that you could feel so much growth and satisfaction at a really rapid pace. We were all at the same level. They didn’t have kids who were at wildly different levels and I think that was great. We all sort of grew together.
Who was the worst skater of the bunch?
Emilio (Estevez). He was terrible. Terrible. Fully.
Where was the camp held?
The camp was held in Minneapolis. The second one was held in Los Angeles at Pickwick but also at the place where the Kings practiced, which we thought was very cool.
But the place where we learned how to skate in Minneapolis I just went to visit a couple of years ago. And just walking in there sensorially was so exciting. It was like, oh my god, it smells the same. The popcorn smells the same. The Zamboni. The ice. Everything. It was awesome.
Did you think it was going to be a hit?
I thought it should be. We just thought it was great. We had such a good time and the producers and director were such wonderful people. It seemed like a really good experience, and now I know from being an actor for almost 30 years that that’s a really good sign. If it feels special it probably is. At the time, I just didn’t know if all movies were like this, or if it was special to me because it was my first movie.
What do you think people connected with?
I think a ragtag group of people who have a lot of heart and work really hard to overcome their obstacles with a good spirit is an essentially uplifting tale. It’s why its been done a lot of times. I think the characters were lovely and specific. It felt like it had a lot of heart without being overly cheesy. It didn’t make it a dumb kids movie and it didn’t make it too serious either.
How did you feel being the girl of the group?
Because I was the oldest, I feel like it gave me a lot of confidence to hang out with them. I probably, at that time, was better at making friends with boys than girls. So it was pretty damn exciting. Plus, I was going to go through puberty soon, so the more guys the better. I was just a kid at that age. I just thought it was so fun.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
I played some baseball. I mostly just did soccer. As a California kid, that’s kind of your thing. I did some dance, professional ballerina school type of thing. I was not very good but I tried real hard. Just like me at a lot of sports. Very enthusiastic but don’t have a lot of natural talent. So probably playing on the Mighty Ducks was the best it was going to get for me. Varsity sports were not gonna come a-calling.
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What’s your connection to hockey these days?
Well, Mighty Ducks is the connection to hockey. I saw my first hockey game at a North Star game in Minneapolis that the hockey coach took us all to. I just remember going, “What is that red chunky stuff on the ice?” And he goes, “They are that guy’s teeth.” Then the ref skated up and put them in his pocket. And I was like, “I’m in. This is incredible.” Never really thinking about my own teeth and their vulnerability. But it was the best way to get introduced to a sport that you never really knew about and just fall in love with it.
And you had a college roommate from Minnesota?
Yes, she was from Edina (the well-to-do rival town in “The Mighty Ducks”). When I found out I was so nervous to call her because I had very specific views about what a “cake eater” was. But she turned out to be wonderful. We were roommates for three out of four years.
Besides “Mighty Ducks,” do you have a favorite sports movie?
Oh my god. That’s such an exciting question. I might have to text you later. I’m driving and I don’t want to crash into something while trying to think of it. I’m going to think about that. (Ed. note: Moreau picked another classic underdog tale, later texting an emphatic response of “RUDY!!!!!”)
When was the last time you skated?
I skated when I was pregnant with my son, so I guess that was a year and a half, two years ago. I went up to Canada because my cousin got married at Lake Louise. We got to skate on the frozen lake and play a little hockey. It was fantastic. I mean, I was very moderate in my hockey-playing, obviously. But still fun to shoot the puck. I brought my skates and got them all sharpened. It was awesome.
Why do you think the movie still resonates with so many people?
Gosh, I don’t know. I just feel very lucky to be part of something that other people connected with. That’s why we do this. That’s why we like to go to the movies.
What do you think Connie would be up to today?
If she’s anything like my double (Brooke White), she played on the U.S. women’s team. That was always her goal. She was so cool. I always thought of her as the example for Connie because she was just in there with the boys. A lot of women over the years have communicated that because of seeing the movie, they joined a league. And that to me was the best, when you can reveal a possibility to someone that they didn’t know was available to them before.