Jack Mulhern was failing out of Skidmore College when a friend suggested he try acting. “It was my last stop,” he says. “I wasn’t interested in anything. I was about to pull the plug on the whole thing.” Instead Mulhern auditioned for his school’s staging of Medea, landed a major role, and decided to give it a shot. Since graduating in 2017 with a degree in theater, Mulhern has starred in Netflix’s The Society, Hulu’s Locke & Key, and the indie films Odd Man Rush and Desert Guest. He’d just wrapped shooting Mare of Easttown for HBO when the coronavirus put Hollywood on hold.
It’s a far way to come in three years, and Mulhern considers his latest project his most fulfilling—after all, in Mare of Easttown he acted opposite Kate Winslet. On the other hand, Odd Man Rush, which will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video beginning September 1, was his most formative.
Based on the 2016 memoir by Bill Keenan, who is AIR MAIL’s C.O.O., Odd Man Rush is about a Harvard hockey player who dreams of playing in the N.H.L. and, when that seems unlikely, follows his love for the sport to hockey purgatory in the European minor leagues. Directed by Doug Dearth, with a screenplay co-written by Dearth and Keenan, Odd Man Rush’s hockey ties run deep. Dylan Playfair (Hulu’s Letterkenny), whose father is a former N.H.L. player and coach, stars alongside Mulhern, while Trevor Gretzky (son of Wayne Gretzky), Alexa Lemieux (daughter of Mario Lemieux), and U.S. hockey Hall of Famer Paul Stewart have small roles in the film. The film also counts among its producers former Pittsburgh Penguins owners Karen and Howard Baldwin (Mystery, Alaska), and Todd and Grant Slater, sons of former Colgate head hockey coach Terry Slater.
When it came to skating, “Dylan blew us way the hell out of the water,” Mulhern says. “I would say that I was second, but, like, a very hard second. Maybe it was enough to pass by Mighty Ducks standards, but by a real hockey player’s standards, it was like Swiss cheese.” Elektra Kilbey, the Swedish-Australian actress and one-half of the music duo Say Lou Lou, plays Mulhern’s love interest. “She came over and she was the girl among a group of rambunctious guys,” says Mulhern, who refers to the cast as “a sort of Slap Shot–style hockey team of delinquents,” regardless of the hockey royalty in its ranks.
For Mulhern, the movie was memorable in the way his story mirrored Keenan’s. “Bill spent a lot of time in Europe hopping around, flying by the seat of his pants, chasing this abstract thing,” he says. “And that felt very similar to what I was doing”—filming his first movie, far away from home, in the middle of winter, in a small town outside Syracuse meant to simulate frigid Sweden, often shooting nights to get access to public hockey rinks. “Sometimes I said to myself, What the hell am I doing? Acting’s such a bizarre thing to do for a living. But you get used to it.”
Julia Vitale is the Senior Editor for AIR MAIL