American Reunion wouldn’t be right without Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge. The two might’ not have been a part of East Great Falls High’s Class of ’99, but their characters are just as important as those of the teens they shared the screen with. We recently had the chance to talk to both comic actors about returning to the world of American Pie and reprising their roles as Jim’s Dad and Stifler’s Mom. Check out our interview below…
What was your reaction when you found out that your characters were going to be spending time together?
Eugene Levy: Well, I first heard it in a story pitch, when I had lunch with (writers/directors) Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, for the very first time, and they were laying out what their idea for the story was. They were talking me through the entire thing, and I was just loving everything that I was hearing. The fact that Jim’s dad is now a widower, I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting. Shocking, but interesting.” Now, the tables are turning; Jim is giving a pep talk to his dad about the idea that it’s okay to start going out and start dating. And then he says, “You get to go to this party that they talk you into going to, and you wonder around the party and open a door and Stifler’s mom turns around.” I just said, “Wow, that is brilliant! That’s so brilliant! That’s so great!” It almost seems like a no-brainer, in a way, like Stifler’s mom and Jim’s dad, but I’ve always been married, and you never think about the fact that you’re ever going to get out of the house and you’re only taking care of your son, and that’s the deal. That was a great thing, that these two characters are now going to get together. It was so exciting, that prospect.
Jennifer Coolidge: I met Jon and Hayden, and I really liked their script, but I did fight with them. I did say that I thought I should sleep with Finch one last time before I do some other stuff. I did want that to happen, and I was very firm about it at this dinner with them. They were really cool guys, but what I liked about them was that they were in love with American Pie and knew so much about it. I was blown away at how much they knew. You could really quiz them and go, “What book was on the coffee table in #2, during this scene?,” and they know. They really are that obsessed with the movies. They said, “Jennifer, Stifler’s mom needs to evolve and she needs to grow, and she can’t just be sleeping with this young boy occasionally.” I don’t know how they convinced me because I’m very stubborn, but I remember at the end of the dinner, I left thinking – not that I wasn’t thrilled to sleep with Eugene [Levy] because we had some really fun stuff to do and we got to get high together and all of that – but, I wanted something to happen with Finch too, and they talked me out of it.
What are some of the changes you’ve noticed over the last 13 years ?
EL: From my perspective, I haven’t noticed too much of a change in these characters. They’re all pretty much the way I remember seeing them in the first American Pie. Yeah, some of them are married now, in the actual story, but they all basically look the same to me. They all look pretty good. When I was working on the first American Pie, they were all very professional actors. It wasn’t a bunch of kids. It wasn’t the inmates running the asylum. There wasn’t mayhem on the set. They were very professional actors doing a professional job. They created amazing characters so they’re really good at what they do. They’re still professional actors doing an amazing job. Even though it’s 13 years later, I’m 13 years older and they’re still that much younger than I was back then, they’re still that much younger than I am now. I don’t really notice that much of a difference except that Thomas [Ian Nicholas] has a beard, and a couple of the guys have buffed up a little bit. But, I don’t notice too much of a difference.
JC: I’ve noticed that they’ve gotten way more in touch with their sexuality. After the first movie, Eddie moved into my house, in real life, and he was this young, very pale kid that now isn’t pale. All these boys must be going to some famous Hollywood trainer because they all look like a million bucks. I had lunch with Eddie yesterday, I couldn’t believe how he’s turning into this heartthrob guy. He was this eccentric kid that read a lot of books, when he lived at my house. I don’t think Eddie’s picked up a book in – no, I’m joking [laughs]. As young, hot actors living in Hollywood, you get even more attractive.
Why do you think this franchise has been so successful and beloved everywhere?
EL: You have a premise like American Pie, it’s a very racy, raunchy movie. When I first read the script, it scared me. I said, “No, I can’t do this movie.” My manager, at the time, said, “Well, you should go and take a meeting?,” and I said, “Why? It’s just too out there for me. This is a kids’ movie. Why would I want to be in a movie I wouldn’t go see?” He said, “Just go talk to the directors.” So, I finally went in and met the Weitz brothers, and that was the turning point for me. They were really smart and really had a great sense of comedy, and they were really two young, brilliant guys. American Pie could have gone either way. It was so raw, sexually speaking, that under the wrong type of supervision, it could have crossed the line into [dangerous] territory. The fact that those guys, Paul and Chris Weitz, kept everything exactly where it should be. They were doing a movie that could have been bad taste, but it wasn’t bad taste. They kept it on the right side of bad taste. They were also character-oriented. The script was really an amazing script, and it was a smart movie. It wasn’t just a series of sex jokes. It was a movie where indelible characters were created and the movie-going public fell in love with these characters. These characters have kept the franchise going. It’s not even so much the content. Sex is always going to play with 16-year-old kids. Every year, somebody turns 16. That’s always going to happen, and sexual awareness is part of growing up. When you’re growing up, you can’t get away from sex. It’s going to be there for years. So, the content is there. The characters, people love, whether you’re a teenager, whether you’re in your 20′s, 30′s, 40′s or 50′s. The first time I saw American Pie with my wife was at the premiere and I said to her, “You’re probably not going to enjoy the movie because it’s really racy. But, I remember the scenes that I did with Jim and I think they’re kind of funny. We may enjoy those scenes, but I don’t know.” And then, the movie started and, right off the bat, I thought, “God, this is a great movie! It just really popped. It’s racy and it’s smart.” That’s what has kept this franchise going. They’ve handled very dicey material, in a very smart, intelligent way. That has now gone down here, in American Reunion. Two guys that love the franchise have put it together in a very smart way, keeping all of the sentimentality and keeping all of the characters very human and alive. That’s why we’re here doing #4, basically.
Did you have an idea, in your own head, of where your characters had gone all of these years?
JC: I always pictured myself having sex with Oz (Chris Klein). I really did. I thought Stifler’s mom would move on to some other kids. The only one I wouldn’t sleep with was Stifler because they wouldn’t go that far, but I have to say that I wouldn’t mind that at all [laughs]. But it never, in a million years, occurred to me that they would hook me up with an adult. I’m glad it all worked out, but it had never occurred to me that I could end up with Jim’s dad. Seducing Finch was great because he didn’t know what he was doing, but it’s even better to seduce an older man that doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Eugene, you’ve been in all of the American Pie movies, even the straight-to-DVD ones. Did you enjoy your character this time around?
EL: Oh, sure, it was funny. They let me out of the house on this movie. I wasn’t just sitting there, giving advice. I was able to actually get out and go to a party, and end up getting drunk and getting stoned and freaking out. ‘The fuzz’ was an old term that I don’t even know if it’s still used for the police. It took this character in very exciting directions for me, right up until the end of the movie. I thought, “Boy, I don’t know!” I had some reservations about that last scene. I thought, “I don’t know. Maybe this is one step over the line, for the character.” But I had to put my trust in Jon and Hayden because their instincts, up to that point, were pretty good. I’m glad I did because it was a fun scene to do and I think it turned out to be funny scene. So, there were new directions and that really made this movie exciting for me. That’s what American Reunion represents to me. The exciting thing about it, it’s not just more of the same, to me. This story stands on its own, as a movie. It’s not just taking what we had and stretching it to make another sequel. They did a really good job moving the characters, and giving all the character a great and interesting storyline, especially my character. I just loved what they did with Jim’s dad, and I think they had to do that. If I was just back, giving advice through the whole movie, I think people might possibly say, “Okay, I think we’ve seen it.”
JC: I requested, from Jon and Hayden, if we reverse the ending and I take the top of Eugene’s head and push him down into my lap because I thought that would be a Stifler’s mom move. I thought, “Why does it have to be me servicing Eugene? Why couldn’t it go the other way?” Did we improvise that?
EL: No we never got to the beginning of it. I don’t think. As big a problem as I had with the scene, generally in the beginning, Jim’s dad being the initiator of something like that was a bit tough to swallow, and I mean that in a good sense [laughs].
Will there be a reunion of the Christopher Guest folks anytime soon?
EL: Well, we had a little reunion at the Oscars. To answer that question, there’s nothing on the horizon. We really didn’t want to do another movie that’s a cookie-cutter movie, where you’ve got the same kind of style, but you just change the subject. Everybody is doing that fake documentary style now even TV shows are using that fake documentary style. So, there’s nothing novel about that anymore. And we haven’t really hit on an idea that moves us and that we both agree on, but we’re always talking.
American Reunion hits theaters April 6, 2012.