Eddie Kaye Thomas has been killing it in supporting roles and comedies for over a decade now, but you probably still remember him best as Finch, the mature teen from the American Pie franchise that will be forever immortalized for banging Stifler's hot mom.
Nowadays he's also popularly known as David "Kappo" Kaplan, Wall St. man and over-eager friend of Ben and Cam on HBO's rising hit How To Make It In America. With the much improved and critically acclaimed second season wrapping up, we talked to Eddie about what made this year so successful, how the show found its voice, and the welcome expansion of the show's nudity. And, of course, the upcoming sequel American Reunion.
Interview by Frazier Tharpe (@The_SummerMan)
How To Make It In America is wrapping up its second season. How're you feeling about it?
We're pretty excited, man. It's always one of those things where you shoot a show and you have a great time and it's really hard to make an honest assessment of it yourself, but from my point of view it seems like people are really digging it. People are watching it, they're involved in it—my mom has actually gotten involved with the plotlines, which is really exciting. I mean, she'd be watching anyway but now she's actually getting emotionally involved with the show, and it's cool.
My whole thing with the show has always been—I still feel really excited to be on the show, I still feel like I'm getting to sit at the "cool table." I see the commercials for it, I see the posters for it and I'm like "Damn, I'd love to be a part of that." And I am a part of it. I feel like a cool guy, being part of this show.
I feel very much like Kappo on the set [of How To Make It]—eager to be involved and I wanna hang out with the guys. I feel like I'm living childhood dreams here.
Your character Kappo seemed a lot more prominent this season than the first one. What was your first thought when the writers told you what he would be dealing with this year?
I was excited. What's really tough about a half-hour, single-camera show with a lot of characters is that there's only so much time [that can be devoted] to each character. Like I said, I'm psyched to be on this show, so just to be a part of that family was amazing.
It was cool to deal with Kappo getting involved with the white-collar crime situation and things kind of falling apart in front of him. I think anybody playing any role would agree that having your life fall apart in front of your eyes is always more fun to play than just some casual "Oh, I didn't have a good day."
There was always kind of an issue with my character. When the show got developed, it was right as Wall St. was starting to fall apart, in 2008, 2009, so we knew we had to incorporate the fact that people on Wall St. aren't doing as well as they once were. And there's this great thing going on in the world—well, not a great thing but this thing that's happening of these guys my age—I'm 31, so a lot of guys my age went to college, have business degrees, went to Wall St. expecting to make $100,000 a year or more and they did for a couple of years and all of a sudden it stopped and they didn't know what to do with themselves. We grew up in a generation where it was like, "Yeah, go work on Wall St. to make a ton of money."
So we wanted to address that somehow but also not make the show a commentary on what's happening in the economic world. So I thought they did a really great job with that, and it's just fun to play around with it. I'm having a great time with it.There was always kind of an issue with my character.
When the show got developed, it was right as Wall St. was starting to fall apart, in 2008, 2009, so we knew we had to incorporate the fact that people on Wall St. aren't doing as well as they once were. And there's this great thing going on in the world—well, not a great thing but this thing that's happening of these guys my age—I'm 31, so a lot of guys my age went to college, have business degrees, went to Wall St. expecting to make $100,000 a year or more and they did for a couple of years and all of a sudden it stopped and they didn't know what to do with themselves. We grew up in a generation where it was like, "Yeah, go work on Wall St. to make a ton of money."
We really saw your character come to the forefront around the fourth episode, and we saw how tight Kappo and Ben have become since reconnecting at the start of the series. Was there ever a point where your character wasn't planned to be so central?
I had no idea. I mean, I signed onto the pilot as a guest star and once the show got picked up they asked me to come on board as a regular and I really wasn't sure in what capacity I was going to be serving the show, so I kinda signed on just like, "This is a really great idea, it's a show I would be a fan of, so I would love to be a part of it." So when you sign onto a show you're at [the writers'] mercy, they can kind of do what they want with you. And I don't read the scripts until the scripts are done, so I don't know what the development of the character was and I don't think they know themselves. I think they're learning from the show as it goes along. They see what we do as actors, they see what personal relationships we're developing, and then they write off of that.
The show has a natural evolution of it being whatever it's going to be. I think Cudi really surprised everybody with how good he is. Once they saw that he really can act, they let him evolve more. One of the problems with my character was, because I had a lot of money, if I was too involved with CRISP it would lower the stakes for Ben and Cam. That they had me to always fall back on, it wouldn't be as dramatic. They had to figure out a way to get me involved but not have me totally backing the company because then the show wouldn't be as exciting. So, you know, we're still figuring it out and hopefully we'll get a third season to continue figuring it out.
I still get off on being friends with a rockstar. Cudi's not just a rapper—that guy is a rockstar.
What are the renewal chances looking like?
I have no idea. I'll probably find out right when you find out. You never know, man. What's great about HBO is they just care about quality. They care about the brand. They're not worried about ratings; obviously they want people to buy subscriptions, but they just want people to be into what's on HBO.
From my point of view, people are really into the show, people are involved, people like having it there, but there's so much great talent at HBO and so many great things being pitched there.... I have no idea what their future plans are. But we should find out in a few weeks.
Well, if we're going on popularity, I think it stands a good chance.
I hope so, knock wood. It's an amazing job to have. I mean, I get to work in New York City, I get to work with really fun people. I feel very much like [my character] David Kaplan on that set—eager to be involved and I wanna hang out with the guys. I could see myself being eight years old and being really excited about the idea of doing something like this when I was 31 years old. I feel like I'm living childhood dreams here.