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For the new installment of American Reunion, out in cinemas around the nation on April 6, Chris Klein is back as Oz, now a sportscaster and celebrity dance contestant on the film’s fictitious dance show. “Chris trained for a couple of months just prepping for this,” relates Jon Hurwitz. “One of our favorite days of the shoot was when we had a whole studio audience, and it felt like we were doing Dancing With the Stars. Chris was performing the dance he worked so hard on in front of everybody.”
“In the scope of preparing for a role in a movie, this ranks up close to, if not the top of, getting ready to shoot,” laughs Klein. “What I learned is that hip-hop is hard. That’s just not something you show up at 32 years old and do. It was a lot of hard work, and I take myself way too seriously.”
L.A. choreographer Stephen Jones spent a month on set working with Klein on his performance. “He’s a big dude,” says Jones. “Dancers are normally pretty small, so he was a little stiff at first. Chris is more sports-oriented but once he started loosening up, he started building his swag up and was confident. There’s a little bit of B-boy steps, some fancy footwork. He was doing some hits, some pops and getting down.” In addition to lighting up the dance floor, there are definitely on-screen sparks between Oz and his old flame, Heather.
“The chemistry between Chris and Mena was so solid in that first movie,” says Hurwitz. “It’s fun to see those characters together again as adults who are reconnecting. Plus, what his character has going on with Mia was so wild. Chris has a lot to do in this movie, and he hit home runs every time.”
Mena Suvari joins Klein and reprises her role as Heather. Reflects Suvari: “Heather has stayed home and focused on her career. She’s working in the medical field and dating a doctor. Heather and Oz’s relationship drifted apart because Oz had a great opportunity to go to California. He’s a successful TV personality now, but Heather wanted to have a family with him. At the same time, she didn’t want to lose herself. So they parted, obviously amicably, but it was heartbreaking.”
When the two reunite in town, the sparks fly. “I told Mena, and I don’t think that she believed me, that she saved me in every scene we had together,” says Klein. “Those piercing eyes she has just demand truth. I was right there with her.” Suvari agrees with her fellow cast members that American Pie changed her life.
“I remember when it came out,” she says. “In the summer of ’99 I was working in Minneapolis on Sugar & Spice, and I was sad that I missed the premiere. We were playing cheerleaders in the new film and shooting a football scene, so there were a couple thousand extras. All of a sudden, I started to hear people shouting, ‘Choir Chick Heather!’ It freaked me out, and then people wanted my autograph, which completely took me aback.”
Another series favorite is the irresistible Vicky, and Tara Reid reprises this touchstone role. “In the first movie, Vicky was the sweet girl whom every girl is relating to when they’re watching the movie because she is the one dealing with her first sexual experience and waiting for her boyfriend to say, ‘I love you,’” shares Schlossberg. “We wanted to capture that again. Tara’s a larger-than-life personality. She’s such a sweet girl. She looks gorgeous, and she’s been so much fun to work with.”
“It’s fun because I know Vicky so well,” Reid offers. “It’s like having your first pair of jeans and putting them right back on again. A lot of people relate to her. After the first movie, girls would come up to me and tell me about losing their virginity. I heard so many stories. Now with this film, I have a great storyline again.
Vicky is in her thirties and living in New York City. She’s single, but she’s a successful career girl. When she goes back to the reunion, she sees that a lot of people are married and have kids. The clock is starting to tick for her and she wonders, ‘Should I have gotten married and stayed here? Am I ever going to get married and have kids?’ Girls who grew up with this film are now that age. Vicky’s done a full circle, and I’ve grown with her.”
Thomas Ian Nicholas portrays Kevin, Vicky’s former high-school sweetheart. He’s now an architect who spends his free time watching reality television with his wife. Nicholas says that this time around, it was even better working with Reid. “We are more connected now because we’ve known each other for so long,” he notes. “There’s an unspoken communication that we have where we can read between the lines.”
For American Reunion, the directors asked him to grow a beard. “His wife didn’t like it,” laughs Hayden Schlossberg, who says that they didn’t want to make the characters’ looks change too much for the film. They wanted the fans of American Pie to see the actors and the characters that they know and love…just a little bit grown up. Eddie Kaye Thomas, who has worked on all three Harold & Kumar films, is back as the lovelorn Finch.
“Everything we’ve done has had Eddie in it,” says Schlossberg. “It’s because we love American Pie and him in it. When the movie first came out, Eddie was the youngest, and yet he had this maturity about him. He’s a sophisticated older guy in a younger body. He always speaks eloquently and gets to be the Chaucer of the group.”
Ironically, Thomas missed both his prom and high school graduation while filming American Pie, so American Reunion gave him the chance to experience the fun. The actor says that working with his directors was like “hanging out with fanatic American Pie fans. They tried to play it cool, but they were excited about the fact that they got this job.
They knew every detail by heart. They’re perfectly awkward and hilarious. Plus, I get paid to make jokes and hang out with my friends. We’re the luckiest people in the world. Just being around Jon and Hayden, you don’t forget that.”
“If there’s a gag reel it’ll be embarrassing how much I can’t keep a straight face,” adds Thomas. “I think Jason is one of the funniest human beings walking this earth. I can’t get enough of him. Anything that comes out of his ugly face is comic gold for me.”