'The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers': Emilio Estevez's surly Bombay is 'a guy who's given up'

Erin Jensen

Here's something to "Quack, quack, quack!" about: Emilio Estevez steps back into his role of Gordon Bombay for "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers," a revival of the '90s movie franchise now streaming on Disney+. The show offers a 10-episode season, with new episodes released weekly.

But the Bombay we meet, nearly 30 years after the first of three movies, is a far cry from the coach that transformed a group of mischievous Minnesota misfits with an 0-9 record to peewee hockey champions in 1992's "The Mighty Ducks." (Fine, initially he was reluctant and the coaching gig was court-ordered community service, but he came around!)

Even the Ducks aren't all they were quacked up to be in the trilogy. They're now a win-at-all-cost team reminiscent of the Hawks, the Ducks' original adversary. Their current coach even cuts a player, Evan (Brady Noon), the 12-year-old son of Alex (Lauren Graham), saying "At this age, if you can't be great at hockey, don't bother." His reasoning inspires Alex, an overworked single mom, to form a youth hockey team of her own – the "Don't Bothers" – who will play for the fun of the sport.

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Emilio Estevez revives Gordon Bombay for "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers," who is now "a bit of schlub," says the actor.

Decades later, Estevez, 58, remains fond of his role. "I never had a coach like Bombay," he says of the "compassionate father figure."

"I wish I did. And I think that's probably why people connected with the character as they did." 

In "Game Changers," Bombay was envisioned as someone who's "hiding out," Estevez says. He's banned hockey from his skating rink, the Ice Palace – where he seems to be surviving on leftover pizza and cake from parties – and claims to not like kids. "He's a bit of schlub," says Estevez. "He's just a guy who's given up."

"His life didn't turn out the way he thought it would, and there's a lot of regret and a lot of trauma and a lot of anger that he is not processing," Estevez explains.

And Bombay is still single, which perplexed Estevez. The actor, the son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie, was engaged to Demi Moore and married for two years to Paula Abdul. He has two children from a relationship with former model Carey Salley. 

"I was like, 'Hang on, doesn’t he have any kids?'" Estevez says he asked about Bombay. "'Is he married and divorced? Is he married and divorced twice? This is 25 years (since the release of "D3: The Mighty Ducks"), a lot has transpired, what happened?'"

It takes Alex and a new group of players to knock Bombay out of his funk. Perhaps a romance between Alex and Bombay will bloom.

Graham, 54, says she'd just graduated acting school when the Mighty Ducks first pulled off "The Flying V" play in 1992. She had "probably four to seven jobs at any given time," but enjoyed the films and "really enjoyed" revisiting them for her role.

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Lauren Graham portrays Alex, a single mom who fights for her child to play hockey for simply the love of the game.

Of course, "Game Changers" is not Graham's first reboot. She joined her "Gilmore Girls" co-star Alexis Bledel for the four-part revival of the 2000s series that premiered on Netflix in 2016.

"I know a little something about returning to something that people have an affection for and feel very invested in and feel like, ‘Don't mess up my show,’ kind of thing," she says.

Graham says she would've never committed to a "Mighty Ducks" reboot "without Emilio's presence and participation. That, to me, was the biggest endorsement." 

With Steven Brill (who wrote the films) on board as an executive producer, Graham sees the series as "getting the team back together, and expanding it. We're not a bunch of people who don't want to honor it. We want to honor it." 

Graham remembers how Estevez "really dominated" films in the ’80s and ’90s as a member of the so-called "Brat Pack" in "The Outsiders," "St. Elmo's Fire" and "The Breakfast Club."

Brady Noon plays Lauren Graham's onscreen son Evan in "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers."

"It's sometimes interesting what people don't reboot," she says in this era of remakes. "I don't want to see anybody else try to do 'Breakfast Club.' Somebody probably could, but it's precious to me."

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Estevez says he typically declines reunions of and panels for his former roles because he prefers to look ahead. 

"Somebody said to me years ago. ‘If you're still talking about what you did yesterday, you ain't doing anything today,’" he says. "I believe that, and so I'm never one to sit around and I don't put posters of movies on my walls. My house isn’t decorated with mementos from my past. It's about what's next for me."

Estevez says revisiting a former character – even Bombay – wasn't "even remotely in my crosshairs," but people he chatted with while driving across the country convinced him otherwise. His acting credits over the past 20 years are sparse. He directed, including 2006's Golden Globe-nominated "Bobby," about the hours before Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, but says fans have long urged him to reprise the role of Gordon Bombay.

"Game Changers" offers Estevez the chance to return to the spotlight. He says after shooting "Mission: Impossible" and "D3: The Mighty Ducks" (both released in 1996), he "kind of went away," turning his focus to independent movies and directing TV. "Essentially, the last 25 years have been kind of my film school, in a lot of ways," he says, "but it felt kind of organic and fun to reenter more mainstream Hollywood through this rebooting of the franchise. I like the full circle of that. I might be the only one, but I think it's cool."

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