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It was only a couple of hours after the producers and Universal execs met with Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg that they decided to hire the two to write and direct the ultimate installment in the American Pie franchise. The producers felt that the partners were a perfect fit for American Reunion.
“I’ve known Jon and Hayden since they were in college,” remarks Perry. “In fact, they submitted their first screenplay to me by cold calling the first assistant director on American Pie and asking him to pass it along! I hired them to rewrite another project of mine a few years after they moved to Hollywood.
So having them write and direct this latest installment of the Pie franchise is something akin to destiny. Their love and passion for these movies has come full circle.”
“They play off of each other,” explains Moore. “You don’t have that normal thing where the writer or the director goes away by themselves and comes back with ideas. They actually worked any issue out through the filter of the other. Whoever had an idea pitched it to the other one to get a read on it.
“We loved the Harold & Kumar movies, and luckily for us, Jon and Hayden were big fans of American Pie,” he continues. “It was a great marriage of two paths. We needed some new blood who were fans, understood the characters and really wanted to work on the movie. They understand situational comedy, and they trust each other. They can also separate, so you can shoot more because you have two people at different places working.”
The two men agreed with the producers that it was vital to the premise to get all of the main cast members and as many of the supporting players back as possible. They appreciated being given a template while also being allowed to bring new characters into the mix. Says Hurwitz: “Universal saw that we were legitimate, huge fans of American Pie, and so putting us at the helm was basically like putting the fans in charge.”
“You don’t see this usually,” adds Schlossberg, “especially when it’s been over 10 years since the first movie came out. You’ll sometimes see that on a television show where they have a big reunion episode, but in movies you rarely do. They’ll recast characters. To see the original actors playing those characters again is just a complete trip.
It’s like you’re literally going to a high-school reunion.” It was a bit surreal for the directors to see the cast together again for the read through. Although many of the performers had kept in touch over the years, they hadn’t been all together since American Pie 2. “This is their 13th reunion,” Schlossberg laughs.
“Had they called us three years earlier, it would’ve been a nice, clean number. All of these characters who were in high school are now in their thirties. In the first movie, it was all teenage issues; this is a completely new world for these characters.”
As the writers crafted the story, they were challenged to find out who the characters were more than a decade later, and to give new arcs to their stories. “Last time we saw Jim and Michelle, they got married,” explains Hurwitz. “Now we see they have a child and are dealing with the issues that brings about—whether it’s a lack of closeness or, in their case, a lack of sex.
Stifler peaked in high school. Back in the day, he was throwing the parties. Now, he’s a temp and getting yelled at by the guy he would’ve picked on in high school. He’s no longer in touch with his friends and is a bit lonely.
“Oz has become a big success,” Hurwitz continues. “He’s a sportscaster and has been on Celebrity Dance-Off. He has a beautiful-but-crazy girlfriend, but he’s missing the comforts of home. Kevin is happily married, but his life is neutered. He feels like a housewife who watches The Real Housewives and The Bachelorette.
He needs excitement, and this reunion weekend brings that. Finch, well we all have that one friend from high school who falls off the grid and you don’t know if he’s going to show up to the reunion. Finch was one of our favorites. He was unique and could have had any fate.”
“He could have been the Unabomber or an Internet millionaire,” says Schlossberg. “We liked the idea of keeping the mystery of what happened to him—that he is this world traveler who has been out of the country for a period of time. Or at least that’s what our guys think, and that’s how he makes it out to be…”
Both men admit that the set was filled with unexpected requests. “I can’t tell you how many times we had to pick out women’s underwear,” laughs Hurwitz. “It all becomes old news, like figuring out the lid to the pot that covers Jason’s penis. We went to Jason’s trailer and saw a puppetry of the penis,’ where he was putting his penis in different directions and smashing it, and we had to decide the right angles for the film.”