Eddie Kaye Thomas talks about returning as Finch in the comedy sequel American Reunion, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD July 10
Like most of his cast mates, Eddie Kaye Thomas was not a household name before the release of the surprise hit American Pie. He had just a handful of credits to his name, including guest starring stints on Felicity and Law & Order before the breakthrough 1999 comedy, where he portrayed the mother-loving Finch. 13 years later, the actor reprises his role in American Reunion, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD July 10. I recently had the chance to speak with Eddie Kaye Thomas over the phone about reuniting with the cast for once last slice of comedic pie. Here's what he had to say.
This had been rumored to be in development for quite a few years before it actually came together. I was wondering when was the first time you were officially approached to come back as Finch?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: The first time I heard about it, I actually heard about it like everybody else, on the Internet and stuff, when it became official. I had heard so many rumors about it, with people telling me there was going to be another American Pie, and I would say, 'Well, if there's going to be another American Pie, I think I would know about it.' And then I read about it online, and realized it was true. Then the whole process of getting everybody back together, it was pretty long and drawn out, getting everybody's schedules together and working it out. It took a few months, but they got it done.
This whole series is kind of special for me, because I went to high school with Seann (William Scott).
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Oh, wow.
Yeah, and I was in college when the first movie came out, and we really had no idea he was in it until it came out, but I have followed the series ever since.
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Wow, that's really cool.
It seems you almost get to create a whole new back story, with all the stories about Dania Ramirez's character from high school. Was it fun for you to add these little tidbits in, after a fourth movie?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: It was fun to finally get to hook up with a girl in an American Pie movie. I've had all these story lines with Stifler's mom, but it was always off screen, and I never got to do anything. So, it was really fun to do that. I really like the whole world that (writer-directors) Jon (Hurwitz) and Hayden (Schlossberg) created for me. I think they have such a great understanding of Finch. From the first time I sat down with them, to discuss the ideas they had for Finch, I felt they had this almost savant understanding of American Pie. They knew so many details. What they caught on to and remembered from the first one, was that Finch is a liar. He spends the whole first movie lying to the whole high school, and I love the fact that they brought that back for the new one. And, if I get to have some love scenes with a beautiful Latina, I'll take it.
Eddie Kaye Thomas: It was funny because, obviously, Jon and Hayden have such a strong relationship with John Cho. John Cho signed on for the movie, and they're like, 'Well, we have to have Justin Isfeld in it.' Jon Hurwitz actually does an imitation of Justin, the other MILF guy. They are so into the movie that they do imitations of guys who have two or three lines in the movie. It's kind of a spot-on imitation. I would imagine that's part of the reason they got the job, because they're that into the movie.
You shot this in Atlanta, and it seemed they did pay a lot of attention to detail, like Jim's room and Dog Years. Can you talk about the level of detail that went into creating these sets in Atlanta?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: It was an amazing attention to detail. It was really trippy walking into all these rebuilt sets. I think the first one I remember walking into was Stifler's foyer. There's a scene in the reunion where we all walk into the party, and Eugene Levy is bringing wine. That was the foyer that, in the first one, we all saw Sherman coming down the stairs after he supposedly has sex and we all make the pact. They rebuilt that thing, to a T. It was amazing. All of the furniture, every square inch was the original set. The original set was a house in Pasadena. It was actually the same house they shot Risky Business in. That scene where Tom Cruise slides across the floor in his underwear was in that same foyer. They also shot the movie Can't Hardly Wait in that house. It's a real house, someone lives in, that they just rent out for movies. But we were in Atlanta this time, so they decided to rebuild it. Like you said, Jim's room was rebuilt perfectly. When they were doing it, they were trying to find the exact same wallpaper, and the company that made wallpaper, renamed that design American Pie wallpaper. I guess they sold a lot of wallpaper. Dog Years, I could be wrong about this, but I think they kind of rebuilt a block in this town outside of Atlanta. When we shot the first one, we shot it in Long Beach high school, and it was kind of an old, dirty school. They wanted to make it look good, so they repainted all the lockers. It's kind of the same thing with this, we rebuilt a bit of the town.
You've worked with Jon and Hayden before in the Harold & Kumar series. Can you talk about getting to work with them in this new capacity, in your other franchise, so to speak? Can you talk about what they really bring to the set?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: You know, the first time I worked with them, when they did Harold & Kumar 1, they looked like guys who just showed up in L.A. and had this insane idea for a movie and they've been working on it for awhile, and they were watching their dream being realized right in front of their eyes. They were giggling and psyched about it, craft services was exciting, and having a whole crew was the most amazing thing in the world. They haven't lost that, at all. It's really a special thing to watch with them, and they're really good at what they do. At this point, they're veterans with a great track record, but they're still psyched about their jobs and they're still big fans. It's something that I emulate as much as I can. It's insanely cool, what we do, even if we get to do it only one time, it's the coolest thing in the world. It can be sad when people are in this industry and it isn't fun anymore, because we're the luckiest people on Earth. We're making believe for a living, and Jon and Hayden really appreciate that and bring that to set. They're giggling and having fun. When they were making this movie, like I said earlier, they got this job because they're the biggest fans of American Pie in the world, and you could see and feel they're excitement. They'd say, 'OK, Stifler, can you move up... Oh my God, we're actually doing this.' It's like a bunch of little kids playing with toys, pretending they're controlling G.I. Joe's, but they're actually doing it with Seann William Scott and Jason Biggs and Eugene Levy. They're really special guys.
I have to imagine that a role like this would lead to some interesting fan interactions. I remember reading that Seann was approached by a father whose daughter was a huge fan, and she was seven years old, or something like that. Do you have a really memorable experience from some fan on the street?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: It's amazing how many people have seen this movie and love this movie. It's beyond me how huge it's gotten, and worldwide too. When we went to promote this new one, we were going to Switzerland and Germany and Ireland. People there being so familiar with the movie, that's just crazy to me. I remember one time me and Jason Biggs went on vacation in South Africa, and we got off the plane and this girl came up to us and said, 'Oh my God. It's you guys. You are huge in Botswana.' I didn't even know that Botswana was a country, so that was cool. Mostly what will happen with me, is people will look at me and say 'Stifler's mom,' as if that were my name. It's like this reaction, where people see my face and say 'Stifler's mom.' It's been going on for over a decade, and I still don't know what to say, or what the reaction to that is. I smile and say 'Hi,' but they're not saying anything like, "I like the movie,' they just say that. That literally happens a couple of times a week, at least, where someone will just come up to me and say 'Stifler's mom.' I have no idea what to do, and I know it's going to keep happening to me for the rest of my life. It's kind of an awkward thing, because they wait for me to do something, and I literally don't know what I should do.'
It's not like there's a line you can come back with. What are you going to say, 'Shit break?'
Eddie Kaye Thomas: People yell that at me too. I'm not a huge fan of being called 'Shit break,' but at least that's kind of the character's name. They say 'Stifler's mom' and expect me to do something. It's not that I'm against doing something, I just don't know what that thing is.
Is there anything you can say about Code Name: Geronimo?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Yeah, Code Name: Geronimo is a really fun movie. It's about the Osama Bin Laden raid, and I play one of the CIA agents who was choreographing the whole assassination of Osama Bin Laden. So yeah, that got picked up and The Weinstein Company is releasing that in October. That was really exciting, to walk around with a badge and feel really important. I'm really excited for Code Name: Geronimo. I think it comes out in the middle of October.
Eddie Kaye Thomas: What I'm so psyched about is I think the expectation bar was raised really high for this movie, when it came out in theaters. Everyone was expecting that it couldn't really live up to what we had done before, and the reactions up to this point have been, 'Oh, you guys actually made a good movie.' I'm really proud of it. The first one was such a surprise, and it can be hard to have expectations and live up to them. I'm of the opinion that the women and the nudity in this one, are the most beautiful women and the best nudity we've had in any of the other movies. We shot a bunch of stuff while we were shooting for the DVD, but I have no idea what wound up on there. But, if for nothing else, there are some of the best breasts in the American Pie series.
Well, that's about all I have. Thanks so much, Eddie. It was great talking to you.
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Thanks. Have a great day.