Seann William Scott, who established himself in Hollywood as the politically incorrect Stifler in the American Pie franchise, was looking unusually tanned when we met. “I’m just baking in the sun a little bit”, explains the good-humoured 26-year old. “It’s like my first break that I’ve had in what feels like eight years.”
This year is shaping up to become Scott’s year, with American Wedding, the third instalment in the American Pie franchise, due out in the latter part of the US summer, and his untitled action comedy with The Rock hitting screens in September. Meanwhile, his starring role in Bulletproof Monk opposite Chow Yun-Fat is also garnering buzz.
The young actor admits that his sudden rise in fame and popularity is becoming somewhat overwhelming "if I think about it, so I just try to focus. With Bulletproof Monk, there was such a huge workload and I feel this huge responsibility, as this was a make-or-break moment for me. People need to see me do something different and I need to do it. Everybody wanted that part and it was great because I went after it and I felt like I proved to the director and the producer that I can do this.”
In Bulletproof, Scott plays Kar, a spiritually-challenged pickpocket teams up with a nameless Tibetan monk (Chow Yun-Fat), a keeper-of-sacred-scrolls trying to shake loose a wheelchair-bound Nazi. Scott says that he went after the film because “it was a great story and as a young actor, it’s just a great opportunity.”
Here Scott gets to kick ass with the best of them, and perhaps the teen comedies that launched his Hollywood career were ideal practice for playing an action hero. "You know, when you’re getting fingers up your ass in Road Trip, it’s like okay, this could be a career ender. You’ve really got to believe the circumstances and go for it because this is a little embarrassing. Or like when you’re kissing Jason Biggs and Ashton Kutcher or doing the things in Old School, it’s like you have to create an environment for yourself to take a risk," Scott says laughingly.
"You do a movie like Bulletproof Monk and you can identify the moments that are going to be kind of difficult and you just have to do your best at them and really believe in it and go for it."
While Scott’s Kar is as cocky as they come, the actor says it was ideal for him to play the character "because I’m not cool which I thought was perfect. This guy has got to have confidence but he also has to have some weaknesses. Paul Hunter [director] and I did talk about a lot of things. He was like, 'I want you to have a cool walk.' I’m like, 'Have you ever seen me walk? I’m the athletic guy from Minnesota. I have no rhythm at all.'
He would say, 'I want him to be cool' and we talked about the look and everything. What I like is when Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones was just so witty. He was always getting beat up. He’d just get back on his feet and he had great charm to him and I always hoped that this character would have some kind of element of that."
Yet Scott could identify with his latest character, "more than anything I’ve done before," he concedes. "Because I went to school with a lot of kids like him. I could also relate to this character because I’ve been on my own when I moved out here and I felt really alone. You can just develop some kind of front with people and I remember being here and trying to pursue acting and thinking is this ever going to happen to me and am I ever going to get an opportunity. Am I ever going to get a chance to do something good? I liked the fact that this kid was a guy who had a big heart He was stealing people’s shit all the time but I think he felt a little remorse about it. He’s looking for an opportunity to do something big."
Scott’s opportunities to 'do something big' took shape when he joined a cast of young unknowns in American Pie. His brazenly outrageous Stifler turned the actor into an overnight sensation. Now Stifler’s back in American Wedding and Scott says that the character is worse than ever.
"He’s a maniac and it basically completes this character," says Scott, laughingly. "It’s after college and our whole thing was I want people to miss this character after the third one. He’s just a nut and just says things. I was like you know what? I’m going to say everything I wanna say and I’m gonna do everything I wanna do. I’m gonna pull weird ‘80s lines out and I’m going to make them work."
At the time of publishing American Pie 2, the entire cast indicated they would not return for a third outing. Scott included. "When my agent called me, he was like, 'I read the script. You have to read it. I know you’re not going to do it, but you really have to read it.' I was like, 'Nope, no, don’t send it. I don’t’ want to do it.' And he sent it and I read the first 20 pages and I was like, 'Oh, man, God, why didn’t they put these lines in the second one? This is way better.' The story was tight, I was doing Bulletproof Monk and I felt really excited about it. I thought you know what? I’m going to go back in and blow them away. This is a chance to make the third one way better than the first two. I can’t even watch the first two because the third one’s so good," Scott concedes.
The actor says that the camaraderie that was prevalent in the first film existed third time around. "It was great and just a really different experience because the story was really different, but I’d spent time with Jason Biggs in Australia promoting American Pie 2 and we were actually stuck in Europe on September 11th together so we had really gone through some tough times and it was fun to play these characters again because now we’re close."
Scott promises the mother of all bachelor parties in American Wedding. "We filmed it for like a week and a half, but the girls in it, oh, man. Of course, they didn’t talk to us." It’s hard to believe it, but Stifler finds it hard talking to beautiful women. "It’s because I was always the crazy guy from American Pie so no girls wanted to talk to me. I had the frat guys come up to me and want to do shots all the time, but the girls were scared of me. They’re like, ‘Oh, that guy, stay away from him, he’s crazy.'"
And nothing’s changed, he insists. "It’s pretty much the same thing which is why I’m hoping Bulletproof Monk and The Rock move will improve my image. I’m like, 'Girls, see the movies. I’m not like the guy from American Pie.' "