The Don Cherry that most Canadians know is the outsized personality from “Coach’s Corner,” the vociferous hockey icon who favours hard hits and flamboyant threads.
And Cherry is fine with that. It’s revealing the other side of his life, as he will in the upcoming two-part CBC-TV biopic Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story, that worries him.
“Tell you the truth, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to do the movie,” Cherry said in an interview at CBC headquarters Wednesday.
“People like myself don’t want to have it laid out there for people to see and criticize. … That’s why I really, for four years, I wouldn’t do the movie. Nobody likes to see their personal life put out to everybody.”
But Cherry, 76, eventually gave the film the go-ahead because it was his son, Tim, who wrote the screenplay and wanted his father’s story to make it to the screen.
Keep Your Head Up, Kid follows Cherry through his childhood, his tumultuous minor-league playing career, his) stint as a head coach in the AHL and NHL and his transition into broadcasting with the CBC, where he’s been since 1980.
Jared Keeso of Listowel, Ont., plays Cherry from his hockey-playing days through the decades that followed with the aid of makeup, prosthetics and a wig, while Sarah Manninen portrays Cherry’s late wife, Rose.
Cherry hasn’t seen the film yet. He says he’ll want to be alone when he watches it on Sunday and Monday — although he’ll have company from his beloved bull terrier.
“I feel like I should do that because I don’t know how I’m going to accept it, and I don’t want anybody around.”
Indeed, the film doesn’t gloss over Cherry’s missteps.
The film ends just as Cherry begins his time with CBC, and thus doesn’t show his evolution into the most controversial voice in hockey.