Seann William Scott misheard the first question as he and American Reunion co-star Eddie Kaye Thomas met with journalists to promote the new Universal Pictures comedy. Asked whether it was easy to slip back into their American Pie characters Stifler and Finch, Scott, always looking for the joke, responded, “I’m sorry, I thought you said something else … with ‘the slip.’”
American Reunion sees both actors returning for a fourth time to their franchise roles, something Thomas acknowledged was easy once the cast was back together. “It didn’t take very long,” he said. “Oh! I do this and Biggs does something ridiculous and embarrassing and then Seann hits me in the balls and we make a lot of money at the box office.”
“I don’t think I ever hit you in the balls,” Scott replied.
“That’s not true,” Thomas whispered.
“There’s still time,” Scott retorted.
Scott said that in this film, he had the opportunity to be involved in the development process. “I was excited to play the character and I thought about what I wanted it to be,” he explained. “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.”
At issue was his character’s energy level. “On the first few days, I overthought it. Would he be as high-energy as he was in the third one?” he said. “He was a cartoon character almost, which was funny, but … I don’t know how to do that at 35.”
The danger was in playing Stifler so broad, that it could easily make him annoying. “We kind of got away with it in [American Wedding], but after a day and [the cast] pointed out that I was drinking a lot of coffee to sustain that energy, I thought maybe I’d chill on this,” Scott said, acknowledging he found a more subdued and naturalistic Stifler more fun to play.
The character became more important as the series continued, and Scott was asked if he ever wished it had remained more of a background role. “It’s more fun having the chance to do more things,” he responded. “But I think he works well in this one. Truthfully, I’ve seen it three times and I like how the Stifler stuff came off.” The actor said part of Stifler’s appeal is his dynamic within the group. “They accept him for who he is, so he can kind of get away with these crazy things and you forgive him for it.”
While the character may be older and more nuanced, Scott doubts he’s ready to settle down or find a career. “Stifler hasn’t grown up a whole lot, which is key to it for me,” the actor was quick to point out. “I don’t think he’s the guy who I want to know why he is who he is, and he shouldn’t grow up to much. I don’t want to watch that guy; he’s fun when he’s an idiot.” At the same time, he admitted his own sense of humor has changed over the years. “Bringing that to it, he’s maybe not so one-dimensional. He’s a little bit weirder. It would’ve been different had we filmed it [right after the previous installment].”
Thomas agreed that a quicker turnaround would have produced a different film. “We understood that the first one touched on this great period in our lives — in everyone’s lives — where you’re terrified that you’re not cool enough and ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to graduate high school a virgin and nothing can be worse than that,'” he explained. “This movie touches on the fact that ‘Oh, my God, I’m 30 years old and I’m nothing like what I hoped I would be.’ To Thomas, that stage in life actually brings the characters closer to their adolescent awkwardness.”I think that’s why this movie is more of an homage to the first than a fourth in the series,” he added.
Both actors are game to continue playing the characters. “We just keep doing what we do, and since ’98, it’s been about trying to make each other laugh and trying to make the crew laugh, and if America and the rest of the world responds, that’s great,” Thomas said. “If not, then I guess it’s time to hang up our Finch and Stifler hats.”
Scott admitted he always has fun, and will always be back. “[In the past,] I’ve been stressed about, ‘Well, I don’t want to be known as this character,’” he said. “[Now], I don’t give a shit. The character’s fucking fun and I love these guys. I’m never going to win an Academy Award anyway, so I might as well go have fun with my friends.”
“I think some of the stuff Seann does in these movies is a lot more difficult than a lot of the stuff dramatic actors do,” Thomas added. “It’s hard to get laughs. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
The two also believe the movie will appeal to high school kids, just as middle-aged audiences embraced the first one. Both films also contain one ingredient that will draw teens into theaters. “We’ve got more boobies than Project X, and I think high-schoolers still like breasts,” Thomas declared.
“I can still be in high school then,” Scott added. “I’ll fit right in.”
American Reunion opens Friday nationwide.