Did you know that Wyatt Russell has a hockey card? Yes, the actor who plays John Walker — a.k.a. the new Captain America — in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier used to be a pro hockey player. His hockey card is from a set of movie trading cards made to promote the film Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Russell’s life — going from hockey player, to actor playing hockey player, to actor playing Captain America — took an interesting and unconventional road.
Wyatt Russell is the son of actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. And Wyatt Russell’s career path was very similar to that of his father. Both were child actors who attempted to become professional athletes before returning to the screen.
Kurt Russell appeared in several Disney films as a child, then was a pitcher in the California Angels minor league system during the early 1970s. After a rotator cuff injury, Kurt went back to acting, starring in films like Escape from New York (1981) and The Thing (1982) on his way to Hollywood stardom. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn became romantically involved in 1983, and their son Wyatt was born in 1986.
As a child, Wyatt Russell acted in a few of his father’s films in the 1990s. He then pursued a career in hockey. The younger Russell was a goalie who played junior hockey in the BCHL, OPJHL, and a two-game stint in the USHL for the Chicago Steel. Russell was the third-string goalie for the University of Alabama-Huntsville, an NCAA Division 1 team, where he was teammates with future NHL goaltender Cam Talbot.
After that, Russell played pro hockey in Germany and in the Netherlands before an injury — like his father before him — caused him to retire from sports and return to acting. One of his first post-hockey acting roles was credited as “Flirty Hockey Player” in the Judd Apatow comedy This is 40 (2010). He was also in 22 Jump Street (2014) and an episode of the TV show Black Mirror (2016).
But was in 2017 when Wyatt Russell would combine his passion for hockey and acting in the film Goon: Last of the Enforcers. The movie was a sequel to Goon (2012), which was loosely based on the eponymous book. In Goon: Last of the Enforcers, he plays Anders Cain, a minor league hockey player and new archrival for Doug “The Thug” Glatt. To promote the film, Upper Deck released an 8-card set of Goon: Last of the Enforcers trading cards, which was given out at advanced screenings and card shops in Canada. One card is of “Wyatt Russell as Anders Cain,” picturing him in his Wolfdogs uniform. The back even has stats and a biography for the character.
After appearing in Goon: Last of the Enforcers, Russell has acted in several movies and TV shows, including the lead role in the series Lodge 49. Most recently, he played John Walker, a decorated soldier who replaced Steve Rogers as Captain America in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Topps issued a digital trading card of Russell as Captain America, and even though — spoiler alert! — he wasn’t Cap for very long, Russell’s character of John Walker will be a part in a future Marvel Cinematic Universe series.
Hopefully, Russell’s future also involves another role as a hockey player. Since he’s already worked for Disney, it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine Russell appearing on The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers series on Disney+. And considering how good Russell is at playing dislikeable characters such as John Walker and Anders Cain, he would be perfect playing a foil for Gordon Bombay; perhaps as an ex-opponent who is now a youth hockey coach. The guy can skate and he can act, so Russell would be a natural for such a role.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■