The gifted actor ain’t
just a cocky macho fuck.
BY A.D. AMOROSI
In his newest film Role
Models, Seann William Scott plays an overly confident, super positive,
energy drink swilling goof who is good with the girls and his pals. That his
pal here is a snidely un-happy sort (dry-icy Paul Rudd) and that the duo find
themselves arrested at the hands of a court appointed youth mentorship program
called Sturdy Wing (run by an hysterical ex-drunk/druggie played Jane Lynch), and
undergo trials by wild fire filled with dollops of physical humor with a ditzy
romantic denouement sounds familiar in Scott’s cinematic catalog.
SWS, as he will continue to be known throughout this story,
has been “Stifler” in the American Pie trilogy, “El” in Road Trip, “Bo” in The Dukes of Hazard, and “Chester” in Dude Where’s My Car?: hits, all. SWS
also shockingly stole films from Will Ferrell (Old School) and the entire cast of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in his barely-there cameos.
In all these films, SWS has played a version of the cocky
genial macho fuck he originated in American
Pie and that he’s playing now. That’s he also been the bruised “Farley” in Mr. Woodcock and the cunning “Stauber”
in The Promotion – solid, snarky
films you don’t know – means you’ve missed some of SWS’s best moments.
With Role Models,
SWS, at 32, is looking to find the in-between; the soft spot between the snark
and the sleaze, the goofy and the giddy. With a script by Rudd, Judd Apatow’s
right-hand-man renowned for Knocked Up,
The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,
and with quirky director David Wain (The
Ten, Wet Hot American Summer, The State) helming this flick, SWS is in
deep within that comic spot.
SWS is seeking to capitalize on both the goofy zeal of
adolescent flicks and the smart dark humor of Wain and Rudd. Funny, then, that
when we meet, his Identity Films production banner comes up (dryly humorous
films like The Optimist where he’ll
play a guy without the gene for unhappiness who falls in love with a cynical
reporter), as does his love of dire Danish films, before we get to Role Models.
After looking down at a biography left on a table by his
handlers (“I think film companies get these from Wikipedia”) his wide grin
parts and SWS is talking about Danish fare including Open Heart and The
Inheritance as well as brusque new American flicks like What Just Happened?
“Devastating stuff – really sad and remorseless,” smiles SWS
with his eyes wide open. “Sort of like Role
Models,” he laughs. “You know, it’s that same sort of vibe.”
His smile widens. You can’t help but wonder if that’s his
trick – get a production deal based on those raucous boy-o comedies then spring
Milk on them. Or become SWS’s favorite,
Eric Bana in Chopper.
“When I moved out to Los
Angeles that’s what I set out to do; hard drama,”
notes SWS. So to get American Pie and
have it be my first film was a shocker. But thank God or I wouldn’t have a
SWS even talks about having read a book and contacted the
members of the family it involved with a French Jewish philosophy major and
protégé of Jacques Derrida on his side. “I was 25 when I spoke to a producer about
a book I wanted to option, Diving Bell
and the Butterfly,” says SWS ruefully, about the book about a deeply
handicapped magazine editor that Julian Schnabel turned into an impressionist
masterpiece. “That was my passion project. I still haven’t seen the movie. Here
I am trying to think up new curse words and there’s this human selfless
gorgeous book and movie around.”
It’s hard, according to SWS, to find commercial comedies
that work. He thought Woodcock would
be great, especially with Billy Bob Thornton and Susan Sarandon attached.
Nothing. Total disaster. Fact is, a few smaller film distribution companies that
he’s done flicks for (like the Napoleon
Dynamiteesque Balls Out) also
croaked. “It was an R rated sports comedy fresh after Semi-Pro died.”
But Wain and Rudd’s Role
Models is in-between; a big film cut from a small film’s jib.
SWS loved Rudd’s script – a totally and purposely derivative
film that cribbed deliciously and darkly from Big Daddy and Wedding
Crashers and allowed Scott’s manic-panicked-positivist character to be
smart, funny and flawed. That Wain’s fascinating vision of court-appointed
mentors and the children they’ll deal gave SWS a chance to twist his usually
identifiable man-child thing was just what the doctor ordered. “I didn’t want it
to be a rip of five other Apatow films and it isn’t.”
Funny thing is, SWS did feel like a thief in the temple,
what with Wain and Rudd and their highly-developed revolving crew connections.
But that worked for SWS. He improvised much of what the relationship between
the two leads would be. Rudd liked the idea of The Odd Couple, according to SWS, so that rabble rousing banter
became part of their dynamic.
“I felt like the new
kid in school,” says SWS. “Those guys know each other, so there’s total synergy.
But I loved coming in to create a character who was an odd take on my usual
good goofball. I don’t want anything to be a Stifler ripoff. I wanted to have
it be more irreverent, more weird in a way that drives the character. I just
didn’t want him to be some irresponsible girl-chasing guy.”
As it comes from the same studio that released the American Pie trilogy – with SWS’s name
on top yet – the 32 year old was looking to maintain part of his own status
quo. But with a twist he hoped would pay off in the (back) end.
“The through-line in so many of my films is that my
character’s the dumb guy, cocky,” says SWS.
“People like seeing me do that. It’s not that Mr. Woodcock sucked. I just think people
had more fun with American Pie and Road Trip. So Role Models is in-between those things. Look, it’s such a strange
biz. You can do a crap movie and you’re shitty in it and it makes 100 million
dollars. Then you get ten offers for ten more crappy movies. You just hope for