VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- What is the enduring appeal of the Hanson brothers, the goofy-looking brothers from "Slap Shot" with the horn-rimmed glasses and the bad hair? It's simple, says actor Stephen Baldwin. "On a physical level, they're s--- kicking geeks."
The characters also are based on the real life people who portrayed them in "Slap Shot." Here's a look at the Hansons, behind the hockey.
Steve, Jeff and Jack Carlson grew up in Virginia, Minnesota (near Duluth), while Dave Hanson grew up in St. Paul. The four played together with the minor-league Johnstown Jets in 1974 and 1975, inspiring the Hanson brothers in the movie "Slap Shot," which was written by Nancy Dowd, the sister of yet another teammate.
The three Carlsons were to play the Hansons, but Jack was called up to play with Edmonton in the World Hockey Association just before filming and was replaced in the cast by Dave Hanson. As the Hanson brothers, Dave Hanson and Steve and Jeff Carlson became cult figures, complete with their own action figures.
After finishing up their hockey careers (Steve and Dave wound up in the NHL), the three moved on to other work. Jeff is an electrician in Muskegon, Mich., Steve is a minor-league hockey broadcaster in Wisconsin and Dave runs the sports arena in Pittsburgh where Mario Lemieux worked out prior to his comeback.
"When he started working out, I asked him if he needed any help from the Hanson brothers," Hanson said. "He said, Any time."
The three are good friends and regularly tour as the Hansons, making public appearances and occasionally playing at charity events.
|The Hanson brothers are putting on the foil again for the "Slap Shot" sequel.|
"One of the reasons for the movie's popularity is we have been out in America, reaching out to fans from Alaska to the Mexico border," Hanson said. "We have shaken hands and talked to literally millions of people. We've done a grass-roots marketing campaign."
Yes, everyone they meet recites a favorite line from the movie, if not more. And many ask mind-numbing trivia questions -- such as what time was on the clock when the Hansons shot a puck off the organist's head -- that leaves them wondering whether their fans live any sort of normal life.
The Hansons also sign a lot of autographs, except for a line of action figures. They say it's a matter of principle because the company, owned by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, never even bothered to ask their permission first.
"A guy in Trenton brought them up to us to sign and we said no, and explained why," Jeff Carlson said. "And he said, 'Good. Then I'm glad I stole it.' "
They say they not only taught Paul Newman how to skate and play hockey in "Slap Shot," they helped him break out as an actor.
"You know, he never won an Oscar until after working with us in 'Slap Shot,' " Steve Carlson said. "Was he good, or did he receive a lot of pointers from us?"
|Horned-rim glasses and hockey hair are back in style in "Slap Shot 2."|
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.