When Art Imitates Bertuzzi
By Bill Harris
Peter Miller even looks a little like Todd Bertuzzi.
They aren't spitting images or anything. But Miller's character in MVP, Damon Trebuchet, doesn't do the exact same thing as Bertuzzi, either.
Suffice to say that in this week's instalment of MVP on CBC, the general similarities to the infamous Bertuzzi incident will not escape you.
"I don't feel like it's such a sensitive issue, you know?" Miller said. "Bertuzzi did hit the guy, he was completely wrong.
"But Damon, as far as I was concerned, it was the last thing on his mind at that point. He can't even stand himself, so forget about other people, right? He's out of his skin."
During a 2004 NHL game Bertuzzi punched Steve Moore from behind and drove his head into the ice, seriously injuring him and ending his career.
In MVP this week, Damon goes after a player from a rival team, against whom he holds a grudge, with a vicious check from behind into the boards. The rival player ends up in a coma.
Like Bertuzzi, Damon has to deal with the aftermath: A media frenzy and complex feelings of anger and guilt.
Miller, a former Canadian Football League player, said that obviously the Bertuzzi incident was on his mind while the episode was being shot, but only to a point.
"Acting's kind of a weird thing," Miller said. "There are all kinds of things you use, and sometimes it's up in thin air and you grab it.
"We all have been living with the Bertuzzi incident for a few years, so it's ingrained in all of us. But directly? I played pro sports, so I have an idea how all that stuff happens and works. I just sort of do it instinctively, to be honest, and it seems to work for me. People write it and your job is to interpret it, to give it flesh and bone."
The episode also features a scene in which Damon goes to visit his victim in the hospital, alone in the middle of the night.
"That shows you the guy is not a psychopath," Miller said of Damon. "He has a conscience. But it's just starting to unravel at that point for him."
MVP already has switched nights, from Fridays to Tuesdays, in an effort to attract a bigger audience (as this was being written there were vague rumours of yet another switch, so double-check local listings). Miller hopes the ripped-from-the-headlines approach of this week's episode will help in the ratings.
"It has been my experience with other shows I've done that whenever you hit issues that the public already is aware of, they like to see the reincarnation of what happened," Miller said. "Their imaginations want to see it in a fictional way, so I think it's good for a show."
As for the Bertuzzi incident itself, Miller isn't shy about voicing a strong opinion.
"It's sad and it's never going to go away," Miller said. "As far as I'm concerned, Bertuzzi owes that guy three meals a day forever."