Hollywood and Hockey

Elden Henson: Sharpshooter to criminal prosecutor

Elden Henson: From sharpshooter to federal prosecutor
With his current role on Netflix's Daredevil, Elden Henson, known to Mighty Ducks fans as Fulton Reed, cannot help but evoke memories of Emilio Estevez's attorney-turned-coach Gordon Bombay. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)

For Elden Henson, life has taken quite an interesting journey since his Mighty Duck days as stereotypical hockey tough guy Fulton Reed.

When he was cast as Reed in the first film, Henson, whose film-credited surname was Ratliff, was not the only one in his family to nab a starring role. His brother, Garette Ratliff Henson, played Guy Germaine for all three films as well.

This brotherly love extended to his Mighty Ducks family, especially Aaron Lohr’s Dean Portman character.

Before Portman even appears in D2, however, Fulton’s intimidating, yet fond presence proves to be two crucial qualities in the Ducks’ turnaround from their hard-luck District 5 days.

From saving the soon-to-be Ducks from Hawk bullies to making quite an impression on coach Gordon Bombay in their first encounter, Fulton verifies his value off the ice long before joining the rebranded and redressed team on it.

He claims he can only hit the net with one out of five shots. But that 20 percent accuracy came through with some big goals for the Ducks. His physical strength and terrifying slapper continue to be assets in the two sequels, even while his limited skating ability remains a hot topic.

Reed increasingly emerges from his typically reserved self in D2 when he meets Portman and forms the Bash Brothers. Together, they rile up the crowd while engaging in some questionable on-ice antics, much to Bombay’s chagrin.

Two decades after concluding their run as the Bash Brothers in D3, Henson humorously remarked to TV Guide in April 2016 that his character taught jazzercise to old ladies in Florida.

While Henson acknowledged that his hockey alter-ego never turned pro, he did continue acting after the Mighty Ducks franchise ended. His adult acting path has led him, quite ironically, to two prominent roles.

One of those characters captures who he was as Fulton Reed. The other is perhaps what Bombay (Emilio Estevez) may have inspired him to become behind the camera.

The first of these roles was as Pollux in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2. When watching the Hunger Games movies, you quickly realize that Pollux cannot speak, much the way Reed barely speaks for the first half of The Mighty Ducks.

Henson’s portrayal of an attorney has eerily mirrored Estevez’s character in The Mighty Ducks franchise.

However, Pollux’s inability to speak does not mean he cannot communicate. When his character convinces Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen to sing in the first Mockingjay film, Henson revives the old Fulton practice of making more out of less.

The second role represents a complete departure from a stoic character. Since 2015, Henson has starred as lawyer Foggy Nelson on the Netflix show Daredevil, based on the comic-book vigilante of the same name.

Henson’s portrayal of an attorney has eerily mirrored Estevez’s character in The Mighty Ducks franchise. By D3, Estevez returns to the courtroom more often than the ice. Henson’s acting repertoire has followed a similar pattern.

While Nelson often takes a back seat to Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock character, their relationship is strong. But it suffers some strain once Nelson discovers that Daredevil is actually his best friend in disguise.

After some contentious arguments, you begin to see how Henson has matured from a simple enforcer on the ice to an articulate one in the courtroom. In many ways, Nelson is a much more complex character than the simple Bash Brother Reed was.

However, that does not mean Henson has forgotten just how formative his years portraying a hockey player were.

Daredevil is incredible, but I mean, The Mighty Ducks put me in a conversation that I wasn’t in before,”  reflected Henson in an interview with TV Guide.

“I feel like I owe a lot of my career to being in those movies. What’s funny is I still, more than anything, get recognized for The Mighty Ducks. I love it…I feel like these things come once in a lifetime and to experience this stuff as a kid and as an adult, I just feel really lucky. I just hope they figure out a way to keep me from aging so I can do it forever.”

If he keeps evoking memories of Bombay via Daredevil, viewers from The Mighty Ducks generation may stave off feeling old themselves.


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