It's neither the 10 nor the 15 year high school reunion but rather the 13 year anniversary that gets the American Pie gang back together in American Reunion. I've personally never heard of any class hosting a 13 year reunion, but that's neither here nor there as it's just used as a reason to get the entire cast of the American Pie series involved in a fourth film of the franchise. Among those returning for more raunchy antics are Seann William Scott as Stifler (that guy from high school who will never grow up) and Eddie Kaye Thomas as Finch. And at the LA press conference for the Universal Pictures comedy, Scott and Thomas chatted about what it took to get back into their characters, how Stifler's personality has - or hasn't - changed since the first film, and why audiences connect to these characters.
Seann William Scott and Eddie Kaye Thomas American Reunion Press Conference
Are Stifler and Finch easy characters to slip back into?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "The thing about this whole movie, just once we were all back together and seeing everyone, it didn’t take long for us. It was like, 'Oh right. I do this and then Biggs does something ridiculous and embarrassing and then Seann hits me in the balls and then we make a bunch of money at the box office.'"
Seann William Scott: "I don’t think I ever hit you in the balls. Not really."
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "That’s not true."
Seann William Scott: "There’s still time."
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "There’s still time."
Seann William Scott: "I would say the first day I thought about Stifler because I was lucky to be a part of the process early on putting this thing together... It wasn’t like I just got the script a couple of month before or I was doing something else. I mean, I was excited to play the character and I thought about what I wanted to be. But then, actually doing it the first day, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was tripping over myself a little bit. Then, like you said, after a day, all of a sudden we were all back having fun."
Seann, do you find Stifler exhausting to play, and Eddie, do you find Seann exhausting to act opposite?
Seann William Scott: "Yes, definitely at times. Well the first couple of days because I over-thought it. I was like, 'Would he be as high energy?' And the third day I was like a cartoon character almost, which I thought was fun. It’s just that I don’t know how to do that. I’m 35 now. That’d be really annoying to see him like that again at this age. He kind of got away with it the one before. But then, after a day, after you guys pointed out that I was drinking a lot of coffee to try to sustain that energy, I thought, 'Okay, maybe I gotta chill on this. Everybody changes so he doesn’t have to be as high energy.' And then it became really fun."
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "I’m lucky that Seann burned so many calories playing his role, because it’s very relaxing and easy playing Finch,. I get to be quiet and subdued, and they call it cool and sophisticated but I think it’s just me being lazy."
Having walked away from playing these characters for such a long period of time during which you’ve grown and changed and had new experiences, what were you able to bring to this that you would not have had you made a fourth film right after the third?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "I think what was nice about this one was it didn’t seem like we were making a fourth one as much as an homage to the first one. We understood that the first one touched on this great period in our lives, in everyone’s life, where you’re going through that period in high school where you’re terrified that you’re not cool enough and you haven’t become what you hoped you would. It’s like, 'Oh my God, I’m going to graduate high school a virgin,' and nothing could be worse than that. This movie touches on the fact that, 'Oh my God, I’m 30 years old, and I am nothing like I hoped I would be.' I think it takes getting older to recapture that awkward, terrifying period. That’s why this movie is more of an homage to the first than a fourth in a series."
How do you think you’ve grown as people outside in your real lives so that you can bring that mentality to your characters?
Seann William Scott: "Stifler hasn’t really grown up a whole lot, which was kind of key to it for me. But I think my sense of humor and the things that I find funny changed. Just as I’m sure all of us, as we get a little bit older, gain a little bit more self awareness and just more experience with things. So I think bringing that to it so he’s not maybe so one-dimensional. He’s just a little bit weirder. Then maybe it would have been different. It definitely probably would have been a different character or what I would have done had we filmed it five or six years ago."
Seann, going into it, you’re always playing the loose cannon. Was there something going in that you expected of your character or do you expect him to be in the same place on the new movie?
Seann William Scott: "I think the character is effective when he’s used just the right amount, so that was one of the things. I wanted him to be the guy who just puts his friends in these situations that they have to get out of. I didn’t want him to have too much of a story arc because I don’t think he’s the kind of guy I really want to know why he is who he is. He shouldn’t grow up too much. That would make him boring. I don’t want to watch that guy. I just want him when he’s an idiot."
So you want him to stay a loose cannon? Is that the fun part of it?
Seann William Scott: "Oh yeah, I think so. I just think that’s where he works the best and I didn’t want him to have too much of a story arc, although what he has in the movie, I think, is effective. It actually makes it a little more interesting. It was Jon and Hayden’s idea, the whole storyline with the job. Because I was like, 'What job? He doesn’t really need the money. His mom’s rich.' And they’re like, 'Well he probably has a job just because everybody else has a job. So he’s just thinking well maybe this is what I should be doing. I’ll just get one of these job things.' But then, I think he is that voice for a lot of guys who are going, 'High school was awesome.' He’s got that line. When everybody else is doing all these things, having kids and marriage and jobs, he doesn’t quite know what to do which works and then makes him a little bit more human."
Do you ever wish that Stifler had stayed more of a background character, even though it’s been such a great opportunity for you as an actor?
Seann William Scott: "Well it’s more fun having a chance to do more things. But I think he works well in this one. I have to watch it again. Truthfully, I’ve seen it three times, and as much as I like how the Stifler stuff came off, I love everybody in the movie. I was like, 'Wow, there’s this relationship, everything he does, there’s so many jokes.' So, I’m thinking that he wasn’t overused because I didn’t feel like it was detrimental to the project. I came out and I was like, 'Wow, the movie’s got a lot of romance. It’s got a lot of heart to it and a lot of nostalgia.' I think it’s worked all right."
Stifler has become iconic. Do you think it works because he’s in the middle of all these guys that are trying to get their act together and he’s the only one who’s still acting crazy and doesn’t want to grow up? Do audiences like him because he’s so over the top?
Seann William Scott: "I think a little bit of all of that. It’s also the characters and how they react to him. They accept him for who he is so he can get away with these crazy things and you forgive him for it. I think because he’s the instigator of a lot of the shit. He’s also just a nut so he gets the chance to do a lot of weird things in these movies. The other part is I actually don’t know why people like the character so much, at least in the first two. Maybe it’s because he gets to say the things you want to say, but if we do say it, we’d get in trouble."
Most franchises run out of steam fairly early on, but this one seems to be going strong. Are you guys up for another two or three?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "I don’t think it’s up to us to decide. We just keep on doing what we do. I think since ’98 when we made the first one, it’s always been about just trying to make each other laugh and trying to make the crew laugh, and if America and the rest of the world respond, that’s great. If not, I guess it’s time to hang up our Finch and Stifler hats."
Seann William Scott: "I like this movie so much and I hope we have that situation where this movie is well received and people dig it as much as we like it. And then, who knows? I’m at a point now, in terms of the sort of roles that I want to do, having this much fun with these guys means more to me now as an actor, more than anything. I’d be happy to do this as long as it lasts because I have so much fun. I’m not going to be stress about well I don’t know, I’ve been doing this character for so long. I don’t give a sh*t. The character is f**king fun and I love these guys. I had more fun doing this movie. I’m never going to win an Academy Award anyway. I might as well go and have fun with my friends."
You can’t say that.
Seann William Scott: "Well Melissa McCarthy did sh*t in a sink and I sh*t in a cooler. So you never know. I can f**king win an award in this thing. It’s why I did this movie. I was hoping to win an Academy Award because they shunned me on Dukes of Hazzard, dude. They shunned me on Dukes, they shunned me on Dude, Where’s My Car? and they shunned me on Bulletproof Monk."
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "I think some of the stuff Seann does in these movies is a lot more difficult than a lot of the stuff a lot of dramatic actors do. It’s hard to get laughs. It’s not an easy thing to do. He’s consistent."
Of all the cast, over the 13 years you've been making these movies, who's changed the most?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "I’ll tell you what was crazy was getting on set and you show up like I think someone would for a reunion. 'I’m going to go to set and show them how cool I am and how much I’ve grown,' and I’m still an idiot. I felt like everyone was themselves. 'Oh yup, there’s Klein. There’s Biggs and there’s Seann.' People stayed pretty consistent. Seann’s beard is getting a little gray though."
Seann William Scott: "Yeah, I get a lot of gray."
Eddie Kaye Thomas: "That’s wild."