Schlossberg: One of the things that made American Pie great was also the sexiness of it. The Jim/Nadia scene was famous for being hysterical and sexy, and it made Shannon Elizabeth a household name, and we wanted to kind of capture that again, but it was important for us to not just have a random nude scene. You want to care about the character—that’s what makes these sexual comedy scenes so famous.
We just thought, OK, in the first movie they dealt with the foreign exchange student fantasy; in this movie, if you’re going back home and you’re in your 30s, there’s the new high school girls, which is sort of a taboo thing, and the girl you used to babysit is now a young adult, she’s thinking about sex, and it’s like, “Oh my god!” On one hand, you’re thinking, “I used to babysit this girl,” and on the other hand, you’re thinking, “She’s clearly the hottest girl in school, and she has a huge crush on me.” So we thought that’s a great scenario to put Jason Biggs in, because you have both the sexiness of the hot high school girl coming onto you and you have the comedy of Jim being married, having a kid, and having to deal with those sexual advances.
Was it easy to find Ali Cobrin?
Hurwitz: We scoured the earth for Ali Cobrin. [Laughs.] It was really important that, not only did we have somebody who’s beautiful, sexy, and able to give you the eye candy that you’re looking for in that nude scene, but we wanted a really great actress. Playing “drunk” is not easy; we’ve seen a lot of audition over the years of people who just can’t pull it off. When people are playing “drunk” badly, it’s a disaster. Ali was just so natural with everything she did, and she was just so fearless, which was key. When you see the scenes that she’s in in this movie, there were a lot of days on set where she was shooting topless, or wearing next to nothing, and she embraced the role. She did everything she could to elevate it, and I think that really shows on screen.
Another character who has an interesting storyline in American Reunion is Oz (Chris Klein), who’s back at the forefront after sitting American Wedding out. What made you think that Oz would become the famous one in the crew, and take the reality-TV plunge on a Dancing With The Stars-like show?
Schlossberg: There were two reasons why we went with that. On the one hand, again, we’re trying to think of relatable storylines for an audience in their 30s, and we felt like, well, somebody needs to come back to their hometown with a little bit of success or some amount of fame. The other reason was, one of the things we loved about Chris Klein in the first movie was that he was in the choir, and he’s singing… Chris can be really funny when he’s doing cheesy, corny stuff. If you watch Election, he’s really damn funny, just in his earnestness.
Whenever we writing for specific characters, we were trying to find whatever it is those actors are great at—what are the things we really like those actors doing? We thought, OK, if Chris can do something cheesy or corny, like being famous but famous for something that’s funny, like a Dancing With The Stars type of show, that could provide added comedy. And I think that’s something that was definitely missing from the sequels, because, you know, Chris was only in American Pie 2, and not in American Wedding, so it was about bringing back a little bit of that magic from the first movie. Having the Oz character caught up in some situations you wouldn’t think a jocky guy like him would be.
You mentioned earlier that one of the goals in American Reunion was to reach an even older audience, which is where the character of Jim’s dad comes into play. And, I must say, Eugene Levy really is the movie’s M.V.P. Why was it important to expand upon that character so much?
Hurwitz: Well, Jim’s dad is a classic character, and Eugene Levy is a massive comedy talent, so it was with great pleasure that we tackled Jim’s dad’s storyline. The first decision that we made literally was to kill off Jim’s mom. [Laughs.] And we liked that for two reasons. One, we liked how that matured the franchise in a certain way, where it’s not just about sex and losing your virginity and the smaller things in life you see in the earlier films; when you get to be in your 30s, some serious things can happen to you, and we wanted to explore that with a relationship that you know and love.
Jim and his father have always had this relationship where his dad is giving him advice and helping him along in life, and when you reach your 30s, you no longer see your parents as just “mom” and “dad”—you see them as actual, real people. You start giving them advice, and we loved that role reversal.
The second thing we loved about it was the ability to, by making Jim’s dad single, unleash him into the world in a whole different kind of way. Instead of just staying inside the house, he’s able to go to the party and mix it up. We were able to pair Jim’s dad with Stifler’s mom; Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge are two actors who’ve obviously worked together a number of times over the years in the Christopher Guest films, but they’ve never shared screen time in the American Pie movies. It was too tempting not to have Jim’s dad and Stifler’s mom get together on screen and see what kind of magic we could have.
And it was an equally great call to pair Jim’s dad with Stifler himself for a bunch of scenes. Eugene Levy and Seann William Scott need to get their own buddy-comedy going as soon as possible—they’re hilarious together.
Schlossberg: [Laughs.] I totally agree. With those two together, it was fun to see Stifler take Jim’s dad under his wing, to great comedic effect.
Did that pairing already exist in the script, or did it grow out of seeing the two of them interact on set?
Schlossberg: It was one of those things that was in the script, but it was something that we expanded upon… Actually, it wasn’t even seeing the chemistry between them that led us to expand upon it even further.
One of the big challenges of making this movie was the fact that, because there are so many characters, the script can get really long; from a studio’s standpoint, they hate a long script. [Laughs.] They get really nervous because longer scripts means more money, so we were constantly trying to find way to take scenes that were only two-to-four lines in the script and, a few days before shooting, write much longer versions of the scene so we could play around and build moments up.
We would come up with stuff, and we’d talk to both Seann and Eugene. We would always try to find ways to expand upon what’s on the page.
Even though the earlier sequels have their flaws, they’re still really funny and, ultimately, successful. The American Pie franchise is one of the rare movie brands that has remained consistently funny and effective over more than two films—not including the straight-to-DVD movies, of course. What do you think it is about the franchise that has enabled it to remain so consistent?
Hurwitz: Well, I think it really stems from the care and consideration of the filmmakers involved in all of the movies to making a product that captures the essence of what the first movie had, which was special: that outrageous comedy paired with character moments that feel real and provide the heart that makes a movie not just offensive and outrageous. You can certainly argue that certain films in the franchise do it better than others, but I think a large part of it also has to go to the actors, who also care so much about these characters. When you care so much about the characters, inevitably there’s something worth caring about for the audience, as well.
You can look at American Pie 2 and American Wedding and pick apart things that might not work in those movies, but they also have great comedic scenes that make audiences roar. Beyond that, they have characters that you can connect with. Everybody has their own subjective opinions on stuff, but, clearly, the movies continue to do well for a reason, and I think it’s because there’s something about seeing Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott and all these talented comedy actors in thesecharacters—it just fits like a glove. It was catching lightning in a bottle with that first movie, and I think people just enjoy seeing these characters grow up.