Next week Seann William Scott, an actor best known for playing lovable dumbguys like Stiffler in "American Pie," will show his Chops in themodern-day, urban "Bulletproof Monk." The kung fu movie, based on the Flypaper Press graphic novel of the same namefeatures Scott as a street-wise punk who comes under the guidance of the titularhero (played by ChowYun-Fat) to protect an ancient scroll.
MGM Studios has provided CBR readers with this Q & A session with Scott about the movie.
Q: How did you first find out about "Bulletproof Monk?"
SCOTT: I wanted to do something with action, something completelydifferent than I've ever done. This script came around and I thought it had abit of Indiana Jones in it, a lot of adventure, and also the whole martial artsaspect. I used to brawl a little bit and here was a chance to do it and not getin trouble. And I thought working with Yun-Fat was a huge opportunity, so Ireally went after it. This was something for me to do that could show peopleother sides that they haven't seen yet.
Q: It appealed to you so much that you really went after it.
SCOTT: I told my agent that I didn't want to audition becauseauditioning can be such a hard way to show what you can do with a part. I saidjust put me in there with the director, let me tell him why I think I can dothis. So I sat with Paul and I said, "This has elements of all the moviesthat made me want to be an actor. At this point in my career that's what it'sall about. I want do this. I thought this kid had a lot of heart."
Q: What was that conversation with Paul like?
SCOTT: I had to sell myself a bit because Paul hasn't seen my movies.So I said that each movie is really a building block for the next one and that Ididn't think anybody would work harder at this part than I would. I really feltthat because of my experiences and the kind of person I am, I could do a betterjob than anybody. I can do this much better than I can comedy. Comedy justhappened, I never audition for it. American Pie was such a surprise, a goodsurprise, but it's much easier for me to do something like this than to playthat over-the-top cartoonish character.
Q: In several movies you've played comic timing. You felt this couldcome easier?
SCOTT: I found it much more rewarding, much more fun. I used to getclose to dramatic roles, but when "American Pie" happened that's allanybody had ever seen me do. I was so appreciative for those opportunities andit was a lot of fun, but I think I'm much more of an introverted person. I feltmore comfortable putting on the Kar wardrobe and having fun with him.
Q: You felt really confident.
SCOTT: Yeah, I did. The movie I did before, "Stark RavingMad," was a great transitional role because it was darker and differentthan anything I had done. It was nice to take a risk and really go for thatcharacter. I think if this had been the first movie I filmed after"American Pie II," it might have been more difficult. It was good tohave some experience.
Q: Is Kar of questionable virtue when we meet him?
SCOTT: Kar has been on his own his whole life and he's gotten by. He'sthe kind of guy who looks at the bright side even when he gets in trouble orthings aren't really going his way. He is a bit of a charmer and he's apickpocket, but he is waiting for a chance to do something good. There's a hugevoid in his life being a homeless kid. Yun-Fat's character, the Monk, opens hiseyes.
Q: What is it about the meeting with the Monk that opens Kar's eyes tothis other world?
SCOTT: Kar works at a movie theater and everything he knows aboutmartial arts he learned on the big screen. He practices that and uses it on thestreets and meets Yun-Fat's character. All of a sudden the Monk is defyinggravity. He almost feels like he's going crazy, but there's actually a moment inthe film when the Monk takes him on this journey. At that point he realizes thisis for real and he's got a choice whether he wants to walk away from it or joinin.
Q: What are Kar's first impressions of Jade?
SCOTT: This gang has basically been kicking my ass and they punch meout. I see her and I'm like, "What are you doing here, you're not part ofthis group?" She shows that she is a bit of a bad girl. Kar takes a likingto her right away. She is gorgeous and tough and there's a side to her that hecan relate to, but she doesn't really give in, ever.
Q: There is instant playfulness there.
SCOTT: It's like two kids in junior high -- the guy and the girl keepfighting, but it's obvious they like each other so much but they're not lettingtheir guards down. I think it's more obvious that Kar is taken with her than sheis with him.
Q: Talk about trying to protect the scroll.
SCOTT: Yun-Fat has been protecting the scroll for 60 years, and if itgets in the wrong hands the world could end. These guys have been chasing himtrying to get ahold of the scroll. There's a point when she and I are the onlytwo people who can do anything to help him. They really grow up in a shortamount of time and journey together. I've been giving them some ideas…I wishwe could have a big make-out love scene, but Jaime doesn't seem to be a big fanof it. [laughs]
Q: You were saying that both Jade and Kar have an underlying feelingthat they're not doing what they want to be doing.
SCOTT: The movie takes place in two days and all the events thathappen are just unbelievable. They have to believe it's their destiny to cometogether and help.
Q: What has the experience been like working with Jaime?
SCOTT: I've never worked on a movie that involved so much time. Westarted this in early December and trained for about three months. We both knowit's biggest opportunity of our lives, a total dream come true. We have the sameapproach - let's do this 100 percent and not walk away with any regrets. I feelreally lucky to work with Jamie. I think she's going to be a huge movie star.I've never met anybody like her. She makes everybody feel really happy on set. Ijust keep trying to be around her as much as I can. I hover behind her like,"Hey Jamie, it's Seann," breathing down her neck all the time."How's it going on set? Good, good."
Q: It seems like she can identify with Jade.
SCOTT: It is a really difficult part because she has to create thischaracter in a short amount of time. The Matrix and Charlie's Angels and movieslike that, they've raised the standard. We have to either meet that or go aboveit, and Jamie has worked incredibly hard. She's done it.
Q: You both never had roles that were this physical…
SCOTT: No, and I've always gained weight to play a funny character orjust looked kind of silly. So I wanted to attack this full on and do things thatnobody has ever seen. I'm really glad I did because a lot of the stuff you seeis really different. There are a lot of different kinds of martial artsinvolved, and with all the wire work, it's amazing. I keep telling them to writea sequel.
Q: Was the wire work and choreography something that came naturally?
SCOTT: You know what, it did come somewhat naturally. The hardest partI had was maintaining flexibility. I have a tendency to be a bigger guy. I knewI wanted to look physically different on this movie because I didn't wantanybody to have a hard time seeing me as someone other than the characters I'veplayed. I lost 20 pounds, some that I gained from American Pie II and some Igained from backpacking in Europe and drinking beer. That was fine, but it wasdemanding on my legs doing all the martial arts.
Q: You look in incredible shape…
SCOTT: Oh thanks, it's just a small shirt. It's the devil shirt thatmakes me look in shape.
Q: You said you were trying to do something different, how would youdescribe that?
SCOTT: It was a fun way to make this guy, because as things developand his skills progress, he gets better. I think it's much more fun to see realkid doing things that we always dreamed about doing. Instead of playing thisinvincible superhero, he's someone to identify with, who could be a friend, orthe kid from the wrong side of the tracks who ends up a good guy doing thingsyou always dreamed of.
Q: Are you doing things you could have a stunt double for?
SCOTT: I made up my mind to do everything I can, as long as they letme, so I said, "I want to do all my stunts," like every actor says. Ihad no idea what that was going to involve. I thought I was going to get somedays off, but doing your own stunts means working every day. My stunt double isgreat. We're all a big team.
Q: And the wire work as well?
SCOTT: It's a nice mix of street fighting and traditional Hong Kong.It's a bit of a theme park ride what happens in this movie.
Q: Have there been any challenges like language barriers?
SCOTT: It's funny you ask that because I haven't been a part of a teamsince I played sports about eight years ago. I mean we trained together for twomonths every day. The thing is that you could become friends without having saidanything at all. We smile and we'd worked hard together and we had the samegoal, to bring everything to life. I remember the very first day, we did thisscene where Kar is training in front of a movie theater and Yun-Fat's characteris watching. It was one of the most amazing days I've ever had in my life. Weonly had like three days to rehearse and I was freaking out, staying up late andjust training and training. To be there on day one and Paul Hunter's got thisgreat music playing, and the screen was behind me and I'm doing all thesemartial arts in sync with the movie screen. It was neat to see in the corner ofmy eye. The fight team was rooting me on -- it was one of the best moments I'veever had. That really started the movie off well.
Q: You were really part of a team?
SCOTT: Yeah, very much. I feel they are some of the best guys in theworld and this is the best crew I've ever worked with. It's fun to see themhappy and feel like they are getting rewarded for it.
Q: When you found out that Yun-Fat was playing the Monk, how did youfeel?
SCOTT: The summer before I decided to be an actor, I was visiting mybrother and he showed me like four of Yun-Fat's movies. That really changed me.I was a huge fan of movies, but there are a lot of movies I hadn't seen. 8 yearslater, I was with my brother in Australia promoting American Pie II when I foundout I actually got the movie. Everything came full circle. It was a total dreamcome true. I was really nervous, because to me Yun-Fat is the king, but I gottasay, I had no idea how amazing he was until I showed up. He makes it soeffortless. He's got this sparkle in his eyes, and he is so great to everybody.If I could be half the guy he is, I would be pretty happy because he's a reallyremarkable person.
Q: On and off camera.
SCOTT: He's such a funny guy that it's just hard to be serious withhim sometimes. He just makes you smile just being around him. We're doing theseintense scenes and sometimes I have to look at his eyebrows, otherwise he willmake me laugh. On the first day, he went up to everybody and said hi, and fromthat moment on he knew everybody's name and said goodbye to them. He is just acaretaker. I hurt my back a little bit in one scene and couldn't really breathe.He carried me offset, carried me to my trailer, took my shirt off, and he andhis stunt double started rubbing my back. 20 minutes later, I can breathe. Hejust took it upon himself not to hand me over to somebody else but to take careof me. He is like that with everybody.
Q: Not a lot of people would know him being funny...
SCOTT: He's hilarious. When we first started doing rehearsals, I waslike, "Whoa, he is so funny." We have a nice banter, which is nicebecause right at the height of our friendship, things change quickly.
Q: This movie has a lot of action, drama, love story, comedy...
SCOTT: I feel like people are going to be floored by this movie.Yun-Fat is just unbelievable, Jamie is unbelievable, all these guys. People aregoing to get lost and they're going to walk away really happy that they went tosee the movie.
Q: Talk about your collaboration with Paul Hunter. What makes him theright choice for this project?
SCOTT: Paul Hunter's going to be a household name very quickly.Visually, he is unbelievable and he has a great sense of story. He is such anice guy that he makes everybody feel like a star. He went up to everybody eachday and said thank you. He never makes you feel like you made the wrong choice.He is always encouraging. He's really believed in me, after that first meeting,and that's huge because knowing that your leader is behind you 100% is great.It's pretty remarkable. Everyday we're hanging out, we're another day done. Nowwe are a little over half way done and it's scary because it's been such a greatride.
Q: Talking about Paul… it's great if you can be having fun.
SCOTT: This is what you hope that moviemaking is about. I've had thisscript in my head for four months so I barely have to work I've been obsessingover for so long. When you get to do the scene and see Paul create what he'sbeen talking about for the last four months, it's just so much fun. I told himthat after this movie, he's going to be working with the best.
Q: Can you get a sense of the visual style he's bringing to the film?
SCOTT: He's a little like a painter, just adding colors. He'sdefinitely got a vision in his head because he can be all over the place insteadof having a formatted movie where it's like two shots, single, wide. You can setup your shot list for the day, but if someone creates something that you didn'thave planned you still have to cover it, and he makes that fun. I've seen someof the playbacks and it has such a cool look -- a bit of a period vibe, mixedwith a modern look.
Q: Do you talk about who Kar is?
SCOTT: Before we started filming, we talked about it quite a bit.Then, while I was training, I'd go over to his office and throw him ideas. Idon't think there has been one idea that I came up with that he didn't go for. Ihave an idea of what I want to do, so we talk briefly each day and it's usuallya quick adjustment. I'm having a good time and I figure if he doesn't tell meany different, then I'll just keep doing it.
Q: Who do you suspect the primary audience is?
SCOTT: I went to see "Spider-Man" and I thought kids andgrown-ups were going to like it. I feel like this movie is the same. Kids aregoing to love it, kids my age going to love it and grown-ups are going to loveit as well. I think the demographics are going to be huge.
Q: Is this type of character more along the lines of what you want tocontinue doing?
SCOTT: I love this part. There are a lot of times when I will questionif I've made the right decision, but I love this. After this movie it's going tobe the first break I've really had in about three years and it'll be interestingto see what I do. I will probably really antsy and ask them to start writing thescript for "Bulletproof Monk II."
Q: What can audiences expect?
SCOTT: They're going to be on a ride that they've never imagined.They're going to see a love story, really between three different people. Agreat friendship happens with Yun-Fat's character and my character and with mycharacter and Jaime King's character. There's martial arts, adventure, drama,comedy. Like I said before, people are going to walk away happy. I hope they getanother ticket and see it again.