If You’re Mocking Me: Chris Klein on American Reunion
I'm not sure anyone realized that the American Pie movies were nostalgic before American Reunion was announced. This year's comedy reunited the cast of the popular coming of age comedies 13 years after their graduation, and explored their efforts to recapture a lost, raunchy youth. Well, most of them. For Oz, played by Chris Klein, the experience is an opportunity to reconnect with his high school sweetheart, not just sex up some jailbait. Klein gave us a call at CraveOnline to talk about the American Pie franchise's legacy, his big dance number, and why after all these years he still needs an invitation to the American Pie party.
American Reunion debuts on DVD and Blu-ray July 10.
CraveOnline: I had an observation when I was watching American Reunion, I was wondering if maybe you could give me your thoughts on it. I realized that, for better or worse, this is kind of my generation’s The Big Chill.
Chris Klein: Oh, that’s kind of interesting. That’s kind of interesting. Listen, if we’re getting compared to The Big Chill, it’s probably for better! It’s probably for better. That’s a heck of a comparison. Yeah, I think what you mean by that, and I feel the same way, is that back in the late 90s, when the first American Pie came out, it kinda captured the hearts and minds of a generation, and that’s an incredibly special thing to be a part of. Certainly something that you never expect to happen, although I suppose making a movie like the first American Pie, I guess from maybe people more mature than myself at the time it was probably a hope. But you know, to be able to create something and be a part of something that was, like you said, kind of captured that moment of the late 90s is really cool. And what we do with American Reunion, and what Jon Hurtwitz and Hayden Schlossberg really wanted to do – they’re the writers and directors of American Reunion – what they really wanted to do was tonally get back to the way that we all felt about the first American Pie. So in a way, for some of the more… the lineup of gross-out comedy, and bring it back to character-driven storytelling, which I think they did a terrific job of, giving all of the characters a cleaner, cohesive arc – which we had in the first American Pie – and also capturing some of the, for lack of a better word, sentimentality of a slice of life. I think we all captured that, and I’m really excited. You know, American Reunion [and] the first American Pie… They’re the most similar of any movies in the franchise.
In the first three movies, in the end it was always about moving on to the last step. It was about growing up gradually. And in the new one, all the characters want to go back a couple of paces and revisit something that they feel like they missed.
Isn’t that interesting?
Was that appropriate for you? The cast is now all in their thirties too…
Appropriate for me? You bet. For the character? Yeah. The whole idea of “reunion,” it’s a pretty interesting American ritual. Ten years after the fact you have your ten year reunion, and your twenty year reunion, that kind of thing. And to do that as these characters, and to do that in the world of American Pie, was a really cool thing to experience because, first and foremost, whenever was the first time in my career when I could play a character 13 years later, and second of all, just think about all the things… I know all of my life’s ups and downs, from my 20s, and my friends Jason [Biggs], Seann [William Scott], Eddie [Kaye Thomas] going through their professional life in their 20s. You know, your 20s is a crazy time. So you’re right. Right around our early 30s, we all start to maybe take a step back and reflect on what went right and what went wrong, and we’re doing that via American Pie.
The cast has a camaraderie to it. I know everyone goes their separate ways between films. Are you able to stay close between films, particularly between the last two?
Going through the experience of having the first American Pie come out and, like you said, for better or worse being a timeless generational film, was an experience that nine of us in the original cast have. And to participate in something like that, with this group of people, you can’t help but have a close relationship with them. I’m so grateful because this group of guys, we could have not seen each other in 13 years, and we could have seen the first day, and picked up right where we left off. Because that’s the uniqueness and closeness of our relationship. They did such a great job of casting these movies in the late 90s, because all of us captured a very particular essence of the characters that are unique in and of themselves. So there’s no strange competition that could happen, there’s none of that kind of weirdness that can go on in this business. It’s all just us having fun and having laughs, playing our various specific characters, and having a good time with it. And what’s interesting is, you know, in this movie, like the very first movie, not taking it so danged seriously. And remembering that, at the end of the day, we’re celebrating a beautiful franchise. We’re making comedy. Let’s have a good time. We’re all still here. How, nobody knows. Because we all know a lot of people in the last 13 years that have come through this town and have either gone away, or gone to a better place. And so to be here after all that and still be making comedy, it’s a pretty cool thing.
You got a big dance number in the film. How much of more of that was shot that didn’t make it in the film?
Well, we shot the heck out of that, I’ll tell you what. We had one whole afternoon of shooting some of my dope hip-hop moves, and let me tell you, I’m really grateful that I’m in a comedy doing that, because if that was captured for real I might be setting myself up for serious amounts of mockery. Not that I’m opposed to mocking myself! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take myself too seriously like that, but a 205 lb., 32-year-old man has no business popping and locking and locking, my friend. No business doing b-boy dance steps, and doing tip-ups and six-steps and all of that crazy stuff. That is a young man’s game. And I’m hoping – I’m not sure, but I really hope – on the DVD they’ll have some extras of that. Because we really did shoot the heck out of that.
One thing I liked in the film was that your character finally apologizes for not showing up in American Wedding.
Well, I don’t know about “finally.” I think it was the first opportunity he had.
Well, that’s my point. We didn’t know in American Wedding why Oz wasn’t there. And now it’s like, “Oh, that’s really cool that they acknowledged that.”
Yeah, absolutely. It was wild because none of us knew why Oz wasn’t at the wedding. [Laughs.] None of us had any idea why Oz wasn’t at the wedding… It was what it was. Those kind of decisions come from way above my pay grade in developing the story. John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg and myself and Jason Biggs thought it was absolutely apropos to throw a little shout out to the franchise and to the fans. We did that in just a very, very quick way. We didn’t make a mal of it, but it’s definitely something to acknowledge.
It was very nice. One thing I wanted to say, unrelated to American Reunion: you are the absolute best part of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.
Aw, you’re putting me on! Come on…
No! You’re like the only actor in that film who’s having a lot of fun and it’s really infectious.
Oh, well, cool! If you’re mocking me right now…
I’m not! I swear to God I’m not.
Swear to God.
Well, I appreciate that. Making that movie, I did, I had so much fun making that movie. And really, for me, it was kind of a cool opportunity to just pay a little homage to action heroes that I really dig. Paying homage to John McClane a little bit, you know what I mean? I love action movies. They’re my very, very favorite genre, and to go to Bangkok for four months and be a part of that movie, which was zany anyway… I feel like there is a niche-y fan base for movies like that. Box office-wise it certainly wasn’t as successful as Fox or any of us would have appreciated, but for those that kind of get a kick out of it, I’m stoked because I got a kick out of making it. Just kind of being silly. Playing that part was a lot of fun, so thanks for saying that.
I mean it. One last thing. Has anyone expressed any interest, seriously or not seriously, in doing another American Pie movie after Reunion, and would you be interested?
That’s kind of a big question on everybody’s mind in the journalism world, and probably in the fans’ minds as well. For me, all I can say is, like I said, the decision to put these movies together, are far and above my pay grade. I have zero to do with developing this franchise. As a matter of fact, as we spoke about it in the third film, American Wedding, I still need to get an invitation to make these movies. So if Universal decides to continue developing these movies… if it’s Straight-to-DVD they have every right to do that, and if they want to keep it going theatrically and use the original cast, and they continue to get the talented writers and directors that they’ve been able to get, like Chris & Paul Weitz in the first movie and Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg in this one, and down the line my invitation comes, then I will hop on board because to be a part of these movies is a very, very special thing. And to celebrate these movies with the fans, that’s the most special thing. I mean, we took this thing on… We had an American Reunion tour going, to some great places – Australia and all around Europe with this movie – and you know? There were fans all around, and in America too, that I’m sure were not even born when the first American Pie came out.
Isn’t that terrifying?
And are probably not even old enough to go see a Rated R comedy yet! But there they are as fans of the American Pie franchise, and that just speaks volumes to what these movies have accomplished. And to be a part of that, man… I’m nothing but grateful. It’s a cool thing.