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Chris Klein became a household name and instant heartthrob when he appeared in 1999's hit comedy, "American Pie." Klein played Oz, the athletic lacrosse player with a voice, and heart, of gold — which means that, in some ways, he was like a one-man precursor to "Glee." Just sayin'.
Over the years, the "American Pie" franchise has continued to amuse, delight and (ahem) ... educate … moviegoers everywhere. We've seen these friends get laid, get married and everything in-between. And now, with the most recent installment, "American Reunion," hitting DVD and Blu-ray this week, we thought it's high time we had a chat with this dreamy thesp to discuss whether these stars still get along after all this time and how he'll know when he's finally "made it."
You've been a part of this franchise for quite some time. How does it feel to be promoting "American Reunion"?
To be perfectly honest, it's awesome. It really is. It's awesome to promote these movies because the fans of this franchise are tried and true fans. They love these movies. These movies affected them. I know this sounds totally cheesy, but we have such groovy, awesome fans. To go into a movie theater and hear everyone laughing out loud, cheering for their favorite characters — and just doing the kinds of things that you don't normally do in a movie theater, because they relate to these characters so deeply — is a really special thing to be a part of. I'm very, very grateful. We just have such a good time making these movies.
Really? You don't ever feel sick of each other? You've been working together now for about 13 years.
[Laughs] No, not at all. My relationships with these guys, and especially the original guys like Jason Biggs and Eddie Kaye Thomas and Sean William Scott, are something really unique. You know, we all went through something so incredibly special with that first "American Pie," so that kind of a bond doesn't break.
What bonded you so tightly?
I mean, we were all new actors new to the scene trying to make a name for ourselves and trying, literally, to pay rent. We were all hoping that we could cobble together some sort of career somehow in this incredibly competitive town and so to be a part of that first movie was such an incredible experience for all of us, that our relationship is the kind where even if we haven't seen each other for a long time, we pick up right where we left off. When that happens you know that you have a true relationship with someone.
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You mentioned that you were a struggling actor back then. So what did you buy with your first Hollywood paycheck?
Well, I bought a semester of college [laughs]. That's what I did. It's not exciting, but it's true. Before I started my acting career I was attending Texas Christian University and I left school to go make my first movie, "Election," and then the very first "American Pie." From that paycheck on "American Pie" I was able to go back and get one more semester of school.
So even after shooting "American Pie" you weren't sure the acting thing was going to work out?
I know that once I made the original "American Pie" movie people started asking how I felt now that I had "made it," but I still feel like I'm "making it."
So when will you know you've finally made it?
[Laughs] That's a great question.
We all know and love you as Oz, but is there a role you haven't played yet that you would love to take on?
There are a million roles I haven't played yet that I would love to play! There's a whole level of undiscovered stories and characters that when I was a kid I just simply wasn't right for, and now there are more roles to play and more things to discover. You know, I consistently change in my own life so the roles I'm suitable for also change, and that's a really nice thing about this profession.
Is there an actor whose career you really admire? Someone you would like to emulate?
One person who really stands out for me is Harrison Ford. Indiana Jones is one of my favorite characters of all time. I absolutely love that character and I'm a huge Harrison Ford fan. He brings the action. He brings the comedy. He brings the heart. I really admire him. What's even more inspiring about him in particular is his longevity. To have a career that spans decades is not an easy thing to do in this business, and he has really done that. It's a difficult thing to achieve and it inspires me.
And what else do you have coming up? Your fans can't get enough.
If people can't wait until July 10to get the DVD for "American Reunion," they can tune in to FX for the second season of "Wilfred." It's totally different from the "American Pie" movies, but it's been a fantastic experience. The character that I play, Drew, has become a little bit more of an outrageous character who gets to inhabit this crazy world. It's totally different and quirky and I think we're all having fun with it, and I think that comes through. Drew was only supposed to be a one-off guest-starring role but it has turned into a part that has extended through two seasons and will hopefully go into a third. I'm just putting that out there, I guess.
Maybe then you'll feel like you've really made it.