The term ‘scene-stealer’ is bandied about all too often in Hollywood but in the case of newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse, audiences agree it’s a term well justified. Christopher who? After audiences see Superbad, this young, bespectacled actor is destined for greatness.
In the role of the ultra nerdish Fogell, who assumes the name of McLovin in order to get out of a comically sticky situation fostered on him by two high school buddies, Mintz-Plasse is having the time of his life riding the McLovin’ wave that has involved badges and buttons with his character’s name emblazoned in all its glory, buttons handed out at the recent gargantuan Comic Con convention. “It’s insane,” the actor says on the other end of the phone as he concludes a day’s press for Superbad. “Honestly, when I filmed it I did not think my character was going to be so iconic the way it is.” Pressed as to why his Fogell/McLovin has reached out to audiences, he remains genuinely perplexed. “I have no idea, nor am I the right person to be asking. It’s really weird.”
Yet it was Fate that brought him to the attention of the casting folks at Sony and producer Judd Apatow, as this is not only the actor’s first acting role but also his first audition. As an enthusiastic Mintz-Plasse tells it, it was all a fortunate accident. “Two friends heard about it and they’re like ‘We’re going on this movie audition tomorrow and the description is a nerdy looking senior who looks like he’s thirteen’. So I fit the description pretty well, went down with my two friends and I auditioned once for Alison and James. Then they called me three days later and said I did pretty well and they want to come see me again. So I went down again and read for Alison and Greg, the director, and then about three days later they called me back again and I read it with Seth, Bill, Jonah and Mike and then Shauna and Evan and Greg and Alison and a couple of other people were there in the room. Now that was really scary because they actually do improv, and I was such a fan Forty Year Old Virgin so I knew Seth, so he was like a celebrity to me at the time. Suffice it to say, the gang liked what they saw in this fresh-faced young actor. “Two weeks later Greg called me while I was at the gym with my brother and I remember specifically what he said: ‘How would you like to be in this little movie thingy I’m doing?’ That was like the happiest day of my life,” Mintz-Plasse says with boisterous enthusiasm.
“There’s definitely some part of me that I put into the character because I was actually in high school when I was filming this movie so I kind of took some of my own experiences from high school and put them into the character which I think helped a lot.” Mintz-Plasse admits that there were plenty of experienced faced by these virginal high schoolers that he had at that age. “I thought this is probably the most realistic high school movie I’ve ever seen ’cause you know the way Jonah talks, very dirty and swears a lot, which was kind of similar to how I expressed myself in high school. Me and my friend would joke about dicks, we would swear all the time and we’d talk about sex, So I thought it was very realistic,” the actor laughingly insists.
While he may play a virginal nerd who evolves somewhat in Superbad, reaction to his character has been so strong that predictions are that young Christopher will have women in hot pursuit. “That’s awesome, I’m looking forward to that.” Asked why it is that Judd Apatow and Seth Rogan have tapped so strongly into mainstream America, Mintz-Plasse feels that “Judd understood you don’t need beautiful looking actors to be in your movies. I mean if George Clooney and Brad Pitt were in the movie it wouldn’t be believable, as if they wouldn’t have a hard time getting laid. But if you put in people like Seth Rogan, Jonah and me who aren’t very good looking and very realistic, people in the audience can relate more to the characters. They would be like ‘Oh I knew those people back in high school’. Or ‘I had this happen to me one time in my life’. I think Judd really understands the realistic type of comedy and I think people relate to that type of comedy a lot more.”
Raised in the San Fernando Valley, Mintz-Plasse says that he always wanted to act. “I’ve been acting since second grade probably, from elementary school and middle school and then I was in my drama class in high school, so I’ve always loved acting.” But, he says after a brief pause, “I never thought that I would get into the business like this.” Chris is heading to Europe to promote Superbad before “me and my get down to business and try to get parts. So hopefully in a year I want to have at least one movie role.” But don’t expect a McLovin spin off or Superbad sequel any time soon. “If Seth and Evan wrote the script and if the cast was the same then possibly. But I look back at Dazed And Confused and Seth’s movies land I really don’t think there is like a need for a sequel.” This may be the actor’s first film, but there’s no doubt we will be seeing much more of McLovin’s alter ego soon enough.