In 1999, a boy had relations with a pie, and teen sex comedies were forever changed. The ensemble high school comedy American Pie launched the careers of Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Seann William Scott, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Thomas Ian Nichols. Eugene Levy, famous for his roles in Christopher Guest’s comedies, immortalized himself as Jason Bigg’s bumbling dad. American Pie was Paul and Chris Weitz’s (About A Boy) directorial debut and, besides spawning two sequels (American Pie 2, American Wedding) and a number of spin-off stories, the series has characters and quotes that embody the younger generation growing up in the late 90s. It’s been almost ten years since American Wedding, and the kids are back – all grown up. Reminisce with the team behind American Reunion and Buzzine’s Emmanuel Itier on what it means to come back together again.
Chris Klein & Mena Suvari
Emmanuel Itier: How was it for the cast to get back together? Did it come with some fear or some joy, or both?
Mena Suvari: I was really excited, just to have the opportunity to get together again. I was so interested to see where the story was going to take everyone, where my character was going to be… It was really just an absolute blessing to be able to work with everyone again, and over the summer in Atlanta in a great location. For me, it’s one of those situations where you’re on set and you’re making a film that you love, you’re having a great time, and it’s a studio film, and you’re just kind of pinching yourself, not really believing that you’re working. Because the energy between everyone – we genuinely have a lot of fun.
Chris Klein: No fear. All joy. Absolutely. That’s all I have to say. It’s all joy – this whole experience. This has been 13 years of pure joy and a pleasure to be a part of.
EI: Is there one particular scene that was your favorite to film?
MS: Oh my god. I mean, I guess our performance, and don’t make me sing it.
CK: Come on.
CK: All right.
MS: [Laughs] But I know that…
CK: [Sings] “How sweet it is to be loved by you…” Come on…
MS: Oh god. No! I remember my first audition, when I met with Chris and Paul Weitz, and I had no clue what I was doing. And I walked out of the room, and before I left, they said, “Hey, by the way, do you sing?” And I was like, “Oh yeah, actually I was in the choir for a few years when I was younger.” And that was it. It was just easy times. And then we were in rehearsals in the studio and recording…
CK: Cut to…we’re in the recording studio!
MS: Working for a week together to perfect our song.
MS: It was fun.
CK: In a recording studio!
MS: It was just innocence back then, because American Pie was the first studio film I’d ever worked on, and I honestly thought every movie was that successful, when it came out. [Laughs] So it was just this very green, innocent approach then.
CK: It was. It was so fun because, like Mena said, we had no frame of reference for any of it, so, “Hey, Chris, do you sing?” I got that question too. I was: Yeah! In the car, in traffic. Sure! I’m a singer! Yes! Why not, right? Do I skydive? Yeah, sure! [Laughs] And then there we are in a recording studio working on a cover of a James Taylor song. It was really surreal and beautiful and innocent.
EI: If you look at each other, what do you like about his character; what do you like about her character? What makes you laugh about him?
MS: I think he’s awesome. Honestly, where his character has gotten to in American Reunion, I think, is the absolute coolest thing ever. He’s got this amazing job, he’s dancing…it’s like he does everything. Through all the American Pie series, he sings, you’re amazing at sports, and now you dance… I was very jealous of where his character was at. I thought it was the coolest storyline ever. You’re very humble about it, but come on. You’re amazing in this. [Laughs]
CK: Wow. No, we have a good time. I love, for Oz, Heather is absolute true north. Regardless of what he’s into – sports broadcasting, dancing -- it doesn’t matter. When Oz goes home to East Great Falls and sees Heather for the first time, everything else goes away. It’s that girl whom he’s loved forever and will always, and Mena encapsulates that so incredibly.
EI: Are you ready for American Pie 5, 6, 7…?
MS: Are you?
EI: Oh yeah! [Laughs]
CK: [Laughs] Are you, man?
MS: I’m open to it, yeah.
MS: Why not?
Eugene Levy & Jennifer Coolidge
Emmanuel Itier: How was it to come back to American Pie? Did it come with a lot of fear or a lot of joy?
Eugene Levy: Well actually a little of both for me, because when I first heard about it, I thought, well wait a minute. I thought we already wrapped it up with number 3. That was the end of the trilogy. That was the closer and now they’re bringing it back ten years later… I don’t know. It could be dangerous. It really depended on who was doing it and what the story is. You could be bringing it back and kill the whole franchise if it doesn’t work. But once I met the guys – the writer/directors Hayden and Jon – they laid out a story that I thought was fantastic, and they were very character-sensitive because they love the franchise. I felt very at ease, and then got excited.
Jennifer Coolidge: I was excited because it was a different thing. Stifler’s mom usually comes in at the end of most of these movies and hooks up with Finch usually, but this one was different. This was a different idea, and I got to hook up with a bunch of other people. [Laughs] And I like sleeping with more than one person.
EI: I do too, yes. My type of woman. If you look at all the American Pie movies, what is your favorite scene, your favorite moment?
EL: I guess it would have to…I mean the very first movie is always kind of a little special, only because it’s the first. So I loved, for me, going through the magazine scene with Jim because they had no sides that day. There was nothing scripted, and a week prior to starting shooting the movie, we had improvised in rehearsal all my scenes, so when we got to the set, there was no set. They said, “Well we thought you’d remember what you did last week.”
JC: I didn’t know that.
EL: So it really was an improvised scene, and it was fun and exciting, and Jason was just trying to bite his lip and not laugh during the scene. That had a soft spot for me.
JC: I think it’s probably what a lot of people say, but I do have to say Jim getting caught with the pie was a pretty great thing. I just remember it was one of those scenes where I never really erased that from my head – that scene. His panic and embarrassment was so real and great, and your reaction…
EL: But for me, I was just reacting to an X on a light-stand. That’s why it doesn’t stand out, necessarily, for me.
EI: If you look at each other, what do you like about each other’s characters?
EL: What do I like about Stifler’s mom?
EI: Beyond the obvious…
EL: [Laughs] Because she just exudes sex. She is such a mysterious, sultry, sexy character. The first American Pie was so great to watch her and Finch, and you just thought, “Oh my god, how lucky is Finch?”
Jason Biggs & Alyson Hannigan
Emmanuel Itier: How did it feel to be back? Scary? Funny?
Alyson Hannigan: It was a lot of fun. It was definitely a blast -- a reunion that you want to be at.
Jason Biggs: Her first day back, though, was probably a little scary.
AH: It was his naked scene. His full frontal.
JB: I can only imagine walking into that set.
EI: I hope you shaved at least.
JB: Well here’s actually a very story. So knowing that I was going to be… Listen, in general, I like to… In fact, last night I manscaped. That’s a fact. That’s true.
AH: Just in case an interview…
JB: Well, I’m about to travel for a few weeks, so I’m just like, I’m just gonna get in there and take care of it now. So anyway, I do this fairly regularly, but I knew that I was going to be bearing all, so I took extra special care with this one night, leading up to going to shoot the film. And I’m doing my business…[bzzzz, bzzzz] And I don’t know what happened, I must have gotten distracted…[bzzzz, BZZZZzzz] And I was like, “AH!” And I didn’t cut myself, but I just cut way too close. So then you’ve got to do the whole thing. So basically I was rockin’ the porn star look for the first two weeks of film, and praying that it was gonna grow back by the time we shot, because I was like, “I can’t just be totally bald down there by the time we shoot!” Anyway, ha ha, thank god for the American Pie franchise.
EI: Throughout the franchise, what has been your favorite moment or scene from all of the movies? Is there something that stuck with you?
AH: Oh man, that’s a hard question. To shoot or to watch?
EI: Both. Or choose one.
AH: Oh man.
JB: Oh god, so many. Oh man, I love the Eugenes. Anything with Eugene. I love doing my scenes with Eugene, I love watching any of his scenes…
AH: Yeah. Eugene and Jennifer together is brilliant.
JB: Finally seeing them together in this movie, yeah. That last scene of this movie was great…
EI: If you look at each other, what do you like about his character; what do you like about her character? In what way do they make you laugh?
AH: Oh, I just adore Jim. He’s so lovely, and you just root for him, but you’re really glad that he’s such an idiot.
JB: Yeah. I like Michelle’s fearlessness. When the guard comes down in the first movie, when Jim first realizes that she’s down with the funky stuff, you’re just like, Whoa! Then she’s just unabashed. She has no qualms about it, and she just loves Jim. I’m in love with Michelle. [Laughs]
EI: How do you approach life? Do you feel like your characters, with a mixed bag of fear of growing old…? Is it scary to be that dude now?
JB: It is, actually, a little scary, and I’m curious to hear Al’s answer because she’s a mom almost twice now. But for me, it is scary, but I’ve got to say I prefer it. The older I get…and listen, talk to me in two years when I’m grey or losing my hair and I can’t walk or whatever, it might be a different story. But right now…
AH: That’s two years from now?
JB: Two years. It happens in my family. We have a Benjamin Button thing. It takes two years, and it’s really strange.
AH: I did not know that.
JB: No, but right now I’ve loved getting older. I’m happily married, and I feel like there’s a freedom in becoming an adult and becoming more mature.
AH: Oh absolutely. I love where I’m at. Every day is better than the last. It’s just fantastic. I love being a mom and a wife, and that’s just my life.
JB: I want to be a dad. And in a few months, I will be. [Laughs] Don’t tell Alexis.
Tara Reid & Thomas Ian Nicholas
Emmanuel Itier: How is it to be back for you guys? Was it bittersweet? Was it fun?
Thomas Ian Nicholas: It was a trip to be back and hanging out with everyone again after so many years. I think the first time we saw each other was the table reading before we’d even started filming, and that was the first time that we’d all been in the same room at the same time for ten years.
Tara Reid: Yeah. It was definitely very nostalgic. It brought you back to being a little kid again. As soon as you think you grew up, as soon as we came back together, we regressed and became little kids again, for sure. [Laughs]
EI: When you look at each other’s character, what do you like about his character; what do you like about her character? What makes you laugh about her or his character?
TR: You never forget your first love, and he was my first love in American Pie, and she always will love him. And he really is a good guy, and Vicky was attracted to that in the first place, and I think she’ll always love that.
TIN: I think Vicky represents sort of the reality of our lives, in the sense that here she is, the beautiful girl that Kevin will never get [laughs] again.
EI: What was the challenge of doing this one? Was there a particular challenge this time around?
TIN: The challenge for this movie was just making sure that we made a good sequel. I think that was on everyone’s minds – all the cast especially – and even Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz, the director/writers. It was very important to everyone to capture the heart of the American Pie movies, especially the first one, and to stay true to the characters, but also have it be nostalgic a little bit, and stand on its own, and that was the challenge and I’m very pleased with how it came out.
TR: Yeah, the challenge was just getting us all together, and once you put us all together, the magic happened again. I mean, we have chemistry that really is magic. It really is true. We all really do like each other, and it was really fun.
EI: If you look at all the American Pie movies, which scene did you enjoy the most? Which is the one that’s is going to stay with you…
TIN: I don’t if there’s necessarily a scene that stands out for me out of all the films, but the first film itself is what stands out for me, because obviously without the first film, we wouldn’t have the second, the third, and now the fourth.
TR: I think one of the scenes in the first one would be the scene at the end of the film, where we realize that maybe it’s not gonna work out. And then you pick it back up on this one, that it didn’t work out, and what could have been and maybe would have been – there’s a lot of questions there – and I think those voids are answered in this film, and it really made it full-circle.
EI: The movie is also forcing us, who grew up with this, to look at what we have become. Do you think it’s hard to be forced to grow older and be mature, and become that responsible kind of human being? How has that been for you? Do you feel like your characters in the film, conflicted about growing up?
TIN: I think it’s an unfortunate reality, and one of the weird things for me is that separately, in my own real life, I felt like I’ve become a more responsible person and more mature, but as soon as we all got together, I expected the same from everyone, and the exact opposite happened, where we all digressed back into the same roles. And I would say we were even more immature than we were in the first one. When you’re 18, you’re trying to pretend to be a mature adult, and now that we’re in our early thirties, we’ve digressed back into being even younger, like middle school.
TR: [Laughs] Yeah, I think just with age comes maturity – it goes hand in hand – so we’ve all definitely gotten older and wiser, but we’ve known each other since we were kids, so bringing us back together again brought out that kid-like quality in all of us. So there’s that innocence that you see in all of us that comes back out again, which is really beautiful and fun.
Seann William Scott & Eddie Kaye Thomas
Emmanuel Itier: How was it to be back? Scary? Pure joy? A mix of both?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Terrifying, and then joy, and then a lot of hitting each other in the balls.
Seann William Scott: Yeah.
EI: That’s important.
EKT: It’s the only way to get things done these days.
SWS: It was in my contract that I could witness them hit each other in the balls nonstop.
EI: If you look at all the movies, what is the moment or the scene that you are going to remember all your life? Out of all the American Pies, what did you enjoy the most?
EKT: John Cho saying, “Don’t be a pussy, Jim.”
SWS: Yeah, that’s pretty funny.
EKT: I think that’s the greatest American Pie moment of all time. Just John Cho’s mustache all around. I think his mustache gave a fine performance, and I’m honored to be in a film with it.
SWS: Not because you’re sitting next to me, but the scene in American Pie 2 where Biggs’s character and Stifler kiss, but you see Finch – Eddie – in a wide shot, because we were laughing so hard when we were filming it. And obviously if you were there, you can tell he’s smiling for real – he totally broke character. It’s just funny anyway, even if you don’t know. I actually like that moment a lot.
EI: If you look at each other, what do you like about his character? What makes you laugh about his character?
EKT: What do I love about Stifler? I like the satisfaction that Stifler has from shitting in the cooler. I like the absolute comfort he has while sitting on the cooler. And Stifler’s passion. And Stifler does his best to tell everyone that he likes them, in his own ridiculous way, which I really look.
SWS: Yeah, he’s kind of a sweetheart.
EKT: Like, the way he says he loves you is he punches you in the face…which I like.
EI: What about you?
SWS: With his character? I don’t know, because he’s a hard character to describe. I mean, ever since the first one, when we were filming it, I remember it was written kind of different. I mean, some of the dialogue was there, but the way you played it…and you were only 16?
SWS: I just thought the character was so cool, because you had a real actor that was coming in – because he’d been acting since you were a kid – and then had this whole approach to it…and it was just to subtle – what he was doing. Obviously I was like this hyena – wild Tasmanian devil guy -- and he had such a smart comedy approach, and the character was just interesting. And he wasn’t a dork. I think he was written to be more of a dork, and he just made him cool, intellectual, and quirky and weird… So I just think the way he played it, the whole character is cool.
EI: Do you approach life now a little bit like your character? In the film, your characters deal with the fear and satisfaction of growing old. Are you at all like them? How does it feel to become an adult?
EKT: It feels good to not be in my twenties anymore. That’s nice. And growing old is better than dying. I like that.
SWS: [Laughs] That should be the take on American Pie: “Growing old is better than dying.”
EI: What about you?
SWS: I can’t relate too much to Stifler in that sense. And I agree with Eddie. Although it is kind of weird, because I have been thinking that a lot of my friends – they all have kids. And it’s just weird to think that. I remember when we were in high school, or at least when we were in our twenties, and I don’t remember them all being married and having kids. So there is that “Wow. Is that what we’re supposed to be doing now?” But not in the same Stifler way.
Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg
Emmanuel Itier: Tell me about joining this franchise. Was it scary? Happy?
Hayden Schlossberg: We were just excited. Jon and I are friends from high school, and when we were in college, American Pie came out, and it was just the first movie in a while that had young teenagers or college-age kids talking about sex and doing outrageous things like teenagers do. And for us, that was exciting, and to be able to determine the fate of these characters – what happened to them ten or so years later – was just fun. You get to play God. What happened to Stifler? We get to figure it out, so it’s great.
EI: What type of challenge was it for you? And is it a challenge to have two directors on the set?
Jon Hurwitz: It’s funny; Hayden and I were friends from high school, so really our filmmaking is just an extension of kind of who we were back then. Back then, it was really just the two of us joking around, making each other laugh, making the people around us laugh; and now, in all the movies that we’ve done, it’s the same thing. We’ll plan the script together, and I think it all starts there, where it’s the two of us figuring out the whole road map for the film and having a lot of agreement on what we’re going for, so by the time you get to set, most of the things have been figured out, and we have this real clear sense of what we want. And then in terms of collaborating with the actors and the crew, they learn real quickly that if you’re speaking to one of us, you’re basically speaking to both of us. If there’s anything that’s a tricky question, we’ll wait for the other person to be there. Oftentimes we’re together. But it’s great to have an extra voice. When you have two directors, you have two people who really want a movie to be great, so there’s a sense of checks and balances and quality control, and I think it’s great.
EI: What would you say is your touch – the thing you brought to the American Pie franchise that’s really personal? And did they allow you to bring anything you wanted to bring?
HS: I think the thing that we brought to this movie is we knew what fans were looking for. People who liked that first American Pie liked the characters. So we focused on the characters, and we also happen to be the same age as these guys, so we knew the type of life experiences that people would be able to relate to. When the first American Pie came out, there were these different high school students, and everybody could relate to the different characters, and now they’re in their thirties and they’re going through a new phase of life, and it was important to us to glean the comedy from what they’re going through. And it’s not just, “Okay, throw in an outrageous scene,” because that’s easy. The outrageous scene needs to come out of where these guys are now in their thirties. So you watch the movie and you’re like, “Oh, I know a guy like that,” or “I know a guy like Stifler and he hasn’t changed at all; he’s still hitting on high school girls…” And for us, that was the secret – just really thinking about what we would like, because we were fans.
EI: From all the American Pie movies, what has been your favorite moment, your favorite scene?
JH: My favorite scene, when I was in college, was definitely the Nadia webcam sequence.
HS: Oh yeah, because it was the first comedy scene that also involved the Internet in a specific way. So it was the early days of the Internet… I didn’t have a webcam back then, but it was maybe a couple months after the webcam came out, boom, they make a joke about it. And it also involved all the characters, and there’s the nudity and there’s the embarrassment, and…
JH: Well it’s the spinning of the plates. You’re on the edge of your seat and it’s the combination of laughing really hard, there’s a certain sexiness going on, but there’s tension because you care about Jim, and you want him to succeed, so there’s a stress level there. And I think it’s the blending of all the things that we love about American Pie all in one scene. And when making this film, we were really trying to make sure that you get invested in the characters again, and that you really care about their journey so that when they get involved in similar hijinks and things that are obstacles for them, you’re rooting for them and caring, and you’re nervous for them when they’re in situations that are a little bit dicey.
Universal Pictures' 'American Reunion' is released in theaters on April 6, 2012.