It’s already the home of live football in Canada, carrying every single NFL game, as well as every single Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Women’s Champions League and UEFA Europa League soccer match. (Other major domestic men’s and women’s European soccer league matches, too. Hundreds of Major League Soccer games, too.)
The Toronto native, best known for his roles as Gob Bluth in Arrested Development, and as BoJack Horseman in the series of the same name, has a particular passion for all things football. Beyond just rooting for his beloved Liverpool and New York Jets, of course.
Premier League has just kicked off. The UEFA Champions League is around the corner. The 2021 NFL campaign is getting underway.
What better time to connect with Arnett about it all, about the new partnership with DAZN, about his Canadian sports fandom — and about a whole lot more?
Forget as an actor, a comedian or even a spokesperson. As a sports fan, this has got to be a pretty good gig. Right?
I keep saying that, if somebody asked me to design an app, and what would I do, I would probably do a thing where I could just watch all the things that I want to watch. I have a million subscriptions. If I want to watch Champions League down here [in Los Angeles], I gotta go to this app. And if I want to watch Premier League, I gotta go to that app. I won’t even name them, because I have so many. But the fact that DAZN Canada provides one-stop shopping — that you can go watch all the NFL stuff in one place, then you can go watch all the European football — yeah, it’s exactly what I would do if I were given the resources. It’s perfect.
Do you appreciate being able to align yourself with this global sports broadcaster and brand, as if you were a superstar athlete yourself? Only no bumps, no bruises, no broken bones.
It’s one of the great… I’d say byproducts, you’d say perks… of doing what I do. That I get to do stuff like this. When somebody like DAZN comes to me and tells me I’m going to get time to talk about sports, yeah, that’s fine. You want to talk about Liverpool? You want to talk about the Jets? Yes. I’d love to do that.
As a Canadian sports fan living and working down in the United States for so long, we can imagine you’ve had some rousing debates with your co-stars, as well as your share of side bets.
Being a Toronto sports fan is not an easy position to maintain. It is something that keeps me connected to the city. For sure. Just because I am such a Toronto sports fan. That has been great. And any time I have a friend and can bring someone to a Leafs game, whether it’s here or in New York or L.A., or especially if they come with me in Toronto, it’s really great.
Any specific memories stand out?
When Canada won Olympic gold in Vancouver in 2010, Brenden Shanahan and I went up there. I brought Jason Bateman with us. He came and watched. We got to go. We were right there, right above where Sidney Crosby scored the “Golden Goal.” It was unreal, you know? That moment — so sick. And even though we beat the USA, and Jason’s American, he appreciated how huge it was for us Canadians to win Olympic gold in Canada. I remember we walked back to the hotel, we were high-fiving. The whole streets were, like, a high-five factory. And even though technically his team lost, he was really rooting for Canada at that moment. It was really cool.
We were all rooting for Canada at that moment. Toronto especially. We needed it to make up for our Stanley Cup drought! Still do.
I think it’s helped me in my life to learn how to pick myself up, and just go, Okay, it’s gonna be this year. That time it didn’t work out. Just keep trying again. It gives you sort of resilience.
Probably not all that different from what you tell yourself as an up-and-coming young actor, scrambling from one audition to the next, trying to breakthrough.
Absolutely. I spent 13 years in New York in obscurity, just trying to get jobs. Hundreds, thousands of auditions. Getting so close to some great part or some big thing, and it just wouldn’t work out. And you learn that the alternative is that you pack up and go home. I wasn’t prepared for that. You know why? Because this one’s going to be the one, oh, that didn’t work out? Ok, now this one’s going to be the one.
It’s turned me into an eternal optimist in a lot of ways. You don’t take the losses so hard.
Have you enjoyed the times you’ve been able to use your SmartLess podcast as a platform for more sports-based chatter? Our favourite episode was with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Mythic Quest’s Rob McElhenney.
Talking about sports on the podcast — it’s so fun that I get to do it. Rob McElhenney is one of the all-time great guys. Since you’ve listened to the podcast, you know that Rob is a guy that Jason [Bateman] and I play golf with all the time. He and Ryan Reynolds bought Wrexham. The Welsh team. I feel like they are going to want me to come and partner. I feel like that’s what Ryan was trying to tell me subliminally.
We also had LeBron [James], which was amazing. We had my good buddy, [Brendan Shanahan] on. I think people have a preconceived notion of who he is. People underestimate how funny he is.
It’s funny. You have all these entertainers moving into sports. Like you, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds. And then you have all these athletes moving into entertainment. Like LeBron James.
Always happens. Even within what I do. You have musicians, for instance. They all tour a lot. They are always on the road, watching shows and stuff. So, musicians are always huge fans of Arrested Development or BoJack [Horseman] or whatever. I had the craziest thrill of going to a Bruce Springsteen concert. We went backstage. Bruce came up. All he wanted to do is talk to me about Arrested Development. After watching him do three hours at Madison Square Garden, he just wanted to talk to me about this show. That was insane.
Actors and athletes have a lot in common. At the end of the day, you are both red-light performers. Right?
We both understand that there’s no way out. You have to do it all in the moment. It’s on you. You have to deliver. Athletes do get that. We used to remark on that back in the day, when my ex-wife [Amy Poehler] was on Saturday Night Live. The athletes would come on. They wouldn’t necessarily be the best actors or the funniest people, but they never choked. Because they’re so used to that pressure.
Derek Jeter. Peyton Manning. These guys would come on, they wouldn’t be nervous. They were used to it.