The Stifmeister is back
APPARENTLY, Seann William Scott loves my hair and my tattoos and everything about me. Oh, SWS, you old card. If only I hadn’t heard you say all the same things to my esteemed colleague from the Star half an hour ago.
Scott, to be fair, is in a mood to share the love: he’s just returned to his Dublin hotel from Trinity College where the Philosophical Society presented the actor with a Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage.
“It is honestly the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he gushes. “I mean I don’t give a shit about Academy Awards – which is probably just as well – so this is so meaningful. It’s one thing to be in movies. But to go into a prestigious college with that kind of history – knowing the kind of films I’ve done – where I’m being recognised for my...” He signs inverted commas – “work”.
“And then just to see how everybody responded; that means more to me than I can say. I literally thought I was getting punked – I was expecting Aston Kutcher to jump out of the podium every minute.”
At 35, with a run of films to his credit that includes Final Destination, Southland Tales, The Dukes of Hazzard, and the Ice Age sequence, Scott has returned to the role that made him a household name. American Reunion sees the actor reprise his role as Steve Stifler for the fourth time. Scott, who also served as an executive producer on the film, was instrumental in getting co-stars Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge and John Cho to return to the lo-fallutin’ franchise that spawned them.
“I didn’t get a chance to go to my high school reunion so it felt like the next best thing,” he says. “I didn’t feel nostalgic exactly. Maybe because I’ve been part of this film for two years and I’ve been trying to make it happen, I was psyched. It wasn’t like I got a phonecall saying ‘hey we’re going to shoot American Pie 4 in a few months’. So when everybody got together and I’m suddenly in a room with people I haven’t seen for 10 years, it was really exciting. It was awesome. I was actually sad when we finished making the movie. I don’t think I’ll ever do another movie where I’ll have that much fun. I started my career with these people. We have a bond.”
It’s odd, he says, stepping into the Stifmeister’s shoes after almost a decade. Not to mention draining: “Stifler is exhausting. It’s a fun gig but its ‘fun’. I mean, it’s a movie; I’m not putting out oil fires in Iraq. But for the first few days I was so tired I could hardly get up. I couldn’t figure out how I used to sustain this energy and how to be funny about it at the same time. But then after I stopped drinking 40 Red Bulls and 20 cups of coffee a day – I was like, ok, he doesn’t have to be as manic as he was for the first or second or third one. He’s older. Like me.”
Stifler, the most iconic and popular character in the Pie sequence, has, admits Scott, coloured how casting directors see him. “In my twenties I was so anxious about typecasting,” says Scott. “I wanted to prove I could do different things. I wanted to prove that I had range. That I didn’t have to play an asshole. But now, out on the road, doing press for the new movie, as we’ve been travelling, people come up to me and call me Stifler and I take it as a great compliment because I love the character. I wouldn’t be doing it for a fourth time if I didn’t.”
He laughs: “I mean it’s weird when people call me Stifler because it’s not actually my name and I’m obviously not really a character in a franchise. But it’s awesome because I love movies and I don’t remember characters’ names most of the time.
“It’s probably the highest form of compliment you can receive.”
Born in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, a place Scott describes as a “good people town: like Fargo without the weirdness or murder”, Scott was the youngest of seven kids in a family of wise-crackers. Did that place him at the bottom of a very heavy dog pile? “Not at all. I didn’t experience that because most of my brothers and sisters were older than me. Only one brother was even close to me in age. I was really spoiled. My mom and dad had each been married before. And then they had me. I was the golden child. I was the baby everybody was nice to.”
The Scotts were a fun bunch. His oldest brother Daniel founded The Onion while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Scott the Younger, meanwhile, found early work within a comic milieu in the sitcom Unhappily Ever After and as the “star quarterback” in Aerosmith’s 1996 video for Hole in my Soul.
“My dad has passed away now but he had an incredible sense of humour,” recalls Scott. “He was a blue-collar factory worker. He was not someone who swore much in front of us but then he didn’t need to because he was a funny guy. He was kind of like a cross between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase in the National Lampoon vacation movies. There was always a lot of laughter at our house.”
The star of Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach and the criminally overlooked ice hockey escapade Goon was an athlete at college but never quite made jock: “I played sports my entire life,” he laughs, “but they called me choirboy growing up. I’m a little edgier now. But I do wonder what I’d be like if I never became an actor. Would I have the same sense of humour? You get so many amazing experiences in this profession I do worry I might still be a little church boy without them.”
Choirboy? Really? “Oh yeah. Everybody thought of me as the guy who only swore when he was playing sports. And that doesn’t count. I was a serious kid. I was an athlete but I was friends with all the girls. I wanted to date the hot girls. But they always thought of me as a friend or like a brother. I was the boring, super-sweet guy.”
He has, later in life, found true jock friends in Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass crew. Fans of violent japes may recall Scott’s cameo as a referee in Jackass 3D.
“Johnny is one of my best friends. We did Dukes of Hazzard and a Farrelly Brothers film together. But I can’t watch my segment in Jackass 3D. I was gaining weight for Goon and I’m so fucking chubby. I was so uncomfortable even the fat on my face was weighing me down. And it sucks because I was so excited to be in a Jackass movie without having to get my nuts crushed. I love those guys. They do have a way of making you feel pretty stable and centred about yourself.”
He bulks too easily, he says, and has recently taken to yoga sessions with his supermodel fiancée, Lindsay Frimodt. “I love yoga. Seriously, you got to try this shit. And I’m at an age where I bulk without trying. When I stay out of the gym I look like a failed athlete. And if I go I’ll never work again because I’ll look a monster.”
Scott does seem to attract and inspire loyalty among his Hollywood colleagues. He’s worked with Eugene Levy many times, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on four feature films, with director Kevin Smith on Cop Out and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and with Justin Timberlake at the MTV Movie Awards and on Saturday Night Live. (Scott’s partner Lindsay features in Justin’s I’m Lovin’ It promo.)
“It’s more by accident than by design,” he tells me. “I have always had to fight for opportunities. I’ve never been in a situation where my agent calls up and says ‘hey we’ve got these four offers – choose one’. When offers come they tend to be roles like Stifler. But then I would never have had any chance without American Pie. And if I never get the chance to be choosy I still feel pretty fulfilled.”