Since 23-year old Jason Biggs burst onto the scene with American Pie, the rest of his film career hasn’t fared as well. But all that is about to change with the release of the even funnier sequel. Paul Fischer met a very chirpy Mr Biggs who waxed philosophical about pies, comedy and failure.
At 23, Jason Biggs is one of Hollywood’s ‘biggest’ discoveries. Sitting in a Malibu beach-house formerly owned by Olivia Newton-John, Biggs remains philosophical about the spate of box office and critical film failures he did, following the success of the first American Pie, films such as Loser and Saving Silverman, for example. “Of course you can’t help but be bothered when a film fails, but not to the point where I really let it get to me. I mean, you don’t go into a game to lose but to win and when you don’t, it’s upsetting. But if you played well, then you should be happy. A couple of those movies did not do well at all but the most important things I look at are: Did I have a good time making them, which I did and am I proud of my performance, which I am in EVERYTHING I’ve done.”
Now, Jason is bouncing back in the inevitably successful Pie follow up, although shooting a sequel was never something that was ever going to be guaranteed from the outset, insists the actor. “We all approached doing a sequel with great trepidation and scepticism,” he recalls. But a few factors came into play that changed his – and the entire cast’s – mind. “First came a pleasantly surprisingly script, and then with the whole cast coming back made doing this most appealing, so it was a great reunion of sorts.” Biggs says that the group “went off in the past couple of years to do other things, some of us have kept in touch, some haven’t, but we all came back and had SO much fun on this film.”
In this J.B. Rogers-directed sequel to Paul Weitz’s 1999 teen comedy American Pie, the barely post-adolescent group of horny kids from the first film reunite one year later for summer vacation after completing their first year of college., with Biggs’ own storyline has his Jim asking for sex advice from Alyson Hannigan’s deceptively sweet-natured Michelle, ‘this one time in band camp’.
Biggs does some wild comedy in Pie 2, even more extreme in some ways, than his now infamous Pie scene. Let’s talk crazy glue, for instance, and one of the film’s most comically outrageous sequence. “Physical comedy is my favourite thing in the world to do,” he says smilingly. “In the first movie, I got to be involved in some pretty outlandish scenes and I’d be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t scared before shooting the pie sequence, and questioned, a little bit, what I was going to do. But once I went for it, left my inhibitions aside and saw its eventual success, it made me much more comfortable and eager THIS time around to take it to a whole new level.” Seeing the risk he would need to take in the new film, Biggs adds that he “was pretty damn excited. After all, the bigger the risk, the greater the return, right?” The actor admits that what he loves about doing physical comedy is that HE does it all himself. “I choreograph it and I do it, because I consider myself to be a comedic actor who’ll do just about anything for a laugh.”
But amidst the obvious raucousness of Pie 2, lay a surprising degree of humanity and growth, which is an added appeal to this sequel. Biggs is happy that Jim, like many of the characters, manages to grow up by the end, “and thematically that’s what the movie centres around”, as does Jim’s relationship with Alyson Hannigan’s Michelle. “That was another big draw in doing this movie.”
Not only have the characters have Pie changed, but the actors have as well, since that group of relatively unknown young actors got together for the first Pie. With ensuing success comes an inevitable new savvy with the Hollywood biz. Biggs doesn’t disagree. “I don’t think we’ve all changed for the worst, in the sense that we’re coming now with egos and bringing a lot more annoyances to the table, but rather I feel that in the past two years, because of American Pie’s success, and all of us working so much now, we’re a little more in tuned to how the business works now, so we’ve changed in THAT respect. We’re not as wet-behind-the-ears or as naïve as we once were.”
While Biggs has successfully proved to the world how funny he can be, next up, he does a 180 degree switch in the new Christina Ricci film Prozac Nation. “It was a nice change for me doing that, but also terribly hard, because of a lot of self-imposed pressure I felt doing that, because it was so different from anything else I’d done. Hopefully it will open up some new windows of opportunity.”
In the meantime, Biggs fans will be able to fall in love with Jim all over again in American Pie 2.