Chris Klein talks about returning to the world of American Pie for Reunion and why he felt the direction his character, Oz, was taking proved right for him. He also talks about choreographing his big hip-hop dance scene and why he feels the franchise has enjoyed such world-wide success.
Why do you think there's still a fascination with these characters?
Chris Klein: I think the universal themes of this movie are what make it attractive to everybody. How do people relate to these characters? It's because these five male characters in this movie wouldn't ordinarily be in the same friend group and they each have their own part to play in the whole thing. There's a character for everybody in this movie that they can relate to... that they either were or knew someone that was. To cover the range like that is pretty unique to our franchise.
Why didn't you appear in the third movie? Was it because you'd done it twice and didn't want to go back and do it again?
Chris Klein: No. Those kind of decisions of the stories that they tell within this franchise come way above my pay grade. They decided to make American Wedding a different way and the Oz and Heather storyline wasn't going to play. It is what it is and I'm just grateful to be invited to this one. I echo Eddie's sentiments about the work that Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg did to bring this film back along the accord of the first one, similar in themes. In that, every character has a clear concise arc in this fourth movie, which is similar to the first one. I also believe that in the Reunion film it's not just the main characters, it's coloured with every character - Milf Guy 1 and 2 and Sherminator and Nadia and all those subtle characters that made the first film as colourful as it was. We all know how sequels work and movie studios garner money factories and they get to do with it what they want and hopefully make a profit. But in this particular edition the renewed vigour that I felt amongst myself and the rest of the cast to bring this one back up to speed where we all thought it belonged as comedians and artists [was great]... And Jon and Hayden kicked that off in a big way.
If you'd been asked to do the full frontal scene like Jason did would you have done it? He seems totally fearless....
Chris Klein: What I really appreciate, though, is... I mean, is it courageous to show your dick in a movie? I don't know if there's courage in that. What I love is within the framework of the scene and the way that it's done, the fact is that Jim Levenstein is not an iconic character because he f**ked a pie or because he shows his penis in a movie; Jim Levenstein is an iconic character because that character in the situations that he's in is relatable and that has to do with the actor that plays the character. It's the things that Jason does and the subtleties that he brings. That's what makes it funny. And that's why this movie resonates not only with the general movie-going audience that likes comedies but it resonates with critics and the people that write about movies as well.
It seems like you have a lot of fun making these movies, so what was it like being back together with everyone?
Chris Klein: Everything that goes into making a film, when it's the finished product, us as the actors look at the film and go: "Oh man, OK, on that day we were doing whatever the circumstances were on that day...." So much goes into it and it's all so incredibly calculated that the behind-the-scenes chemistry that exists between all of us is sometimes forgotten - you can't act that. We've all come together and held hands through each of the processes that I've been a part of.
How long did it take for you to nail the dancing?
Chris Klein: I trained with two different choreographers for the hip-hop dancing because it's not something that comes naturally. I think Eddie could probably get on stage and do a bit of hip-hop! But I rehearsed and had the numbers down pat. When Jon and Hayden pitched the idea of a dance competition show, the way that it was written in the screenplay I had a couple of questions about because, first of all, these dance competition shows are incredibly popular and if we were going to take something like that on I wanted it to feel as big as it feels when you watch it on television - and these shows feel big; they're huge productions. I wasn't out there to make fun of it because people rebel against making fun of incredibly popular things. So, they were fully on board with that and we got to work. So, when I presented what the choreographers and I thought was a good example of how Oz might hip-hop dance they loved it and we shot it. I remember my good friend Eddie [Kaye Thomas] on the day came to support me and that was a fun day for me to shoot. It's Oz's big comic moment within the film and people have responded well to it, so that always makes me happy.
Did you have much input into how your character was developed?
Chris Klein: I didn't have any input because Jon and Hayden's pitch was tremendous. They said: "We think he's a sports broadcaster..." I said: "Awesome!" They then said: "We think he was also in a hip-hop dance competition show..." I said: "Awesome!" And they said: "And he's still in love with Heather..." And I said: "Yeah, he is." I give them all the credit in the world for such a solid screenplay.
Words: Rob Carnevale
American Pie: Reunion is out in cinemas Wednesday 2 May