Movie Production Notes
lt was bound to happen, sooner or later.
The raucous and lovable characters from the wildly successful American Pie and American Pie 2 have gone and done it...well, they're planning on doing it. Really soon. In front of everyone they know. In a big way.
Jim (JASON BIGGS) and Michelle (ALYSON HANNIGAN) are getting married.
With East Great Falls High, foreign exchange students, band camp, crazy glue and summer college vacations now a thing of the past, Jim and Michelle's friends and family are ready to help usher the couple down the aisle and over the threshold into adulthood.
Michelle wants the wedding to be perfect. Not exactly an easy task, even with everyone on their best behavior and getting along...which probably isn't going to happen. Michelle's knock-out sister, Cadence (JANUARY JONES), has flown in to help out her
Cautioned to tone it down by a nervous Jim who already has his hands full trying to impress Michelle's somewhat stuffy parents, Harold and Mary (FRED WILLARD and DEBORAH RUSH)-Stifler abandons his customary plan of attack and becomes the charming would-be boyfriend of every nice girl's dreams...which leaves Finch with no choice but to play the bad boy, with Cadence torn between perfect gentleman Stifler and that low-life Finch.
It's good for Jim that some things don't change, as Jim's Dad (EUGENE LEVY) is an ever-present constant, dispensing well-meaning (but sometimes clueless) advice to his son and future daughter-in law, occasionally crossing the line into the land of "too much information" concerning him and Jim's Mom (MOLLY CHEEK).
Also confounding the groom and bride-to-be's rush to the altar are Kevin (THOMAS IAN NICHOLAS), Jim and Finch's trek to chase down the perfect wedding dress for Michelle; an unexpected bachelor party complete with naughty "maid" and sexy female "cop" (what's a party without strippers?); dancing lessons, a church full of dead flowers, personal grooming mishaps and one, big, hairy wedding cake. Welcome now to the thrilling climax of the American Pie saga. Whom God would join, let not hilarious and irreverent situation put asunder.
Forever hold your piece.
Recognizing themselves in the then high school seniors' adventures, moviegoers fell in love with the East Great Falls High gang of American Pie and stayed with them as they continued to grow up, heading to college and other new frontiers. Now Jim, Michelle and the gang return, still strongly linked by their on-going friendships...a little more mature and ready to leap into their adult lives.
Like the characters it so wonderfully captured, the American Pie franchise began as a break-out teen comedy hit-a winning combination of raucous humor and heart-and now "grows up" with American Wedding, stepping up as a worthy entry in the tradition of great wedding comedies.
Universal Pictures is proud to reunite the cast of the original comedy for their latest rite of passage in American Wedding. Returning with the characters he created, writer/producer ADAM HERZ is joined by director JESSE DYLAN (How High) and rejoined by his team of producers WARREN ZIDE (American Pie I & 2, Cats and Dogs), CRAIG PERRY (American Pie I & 2, Final Destination), CHRIS MOORE (American Pie I & 2, Good Will Hunting) and CHRIS BENDER (The Ring, Cats and Dogs). Also aboard for the march down the aisle are executive producers PAUL WEITZ (About a Boy, American Pie), CHRIS WEITZ (About a Boy, American Pie) and LOUIS G. FRIEDMAN (Blue Crush, How High).
Top-notch production talent includes director of photography LLOYD AHERN, A.S.C. (Can't Hardly Wait, Broken Arrow), production designer CLAYTON HARTLEY (Cheaters), editor STUART PAPPE (American Pie 2, George of the Jungle), composer CHRISTOPHE BECK (Just Married, The Tuxedo) and costume designer PAMELA WITHERS CHILTON (Bringing Down the House).
About the Production
To the many fans of American Pie, a third installment was highly anticipated-the moviegoers who had taken to the "AP" gang wanted to continue to see where the characters' lives would lead. But for Adam Herz (the creator of the successful series' characters and writer/producer of American Wedding) and his team, steps needed to be taken to ensure that they were not rushing into the project simply to satisfy the market. Like anyone guiding the progress of a beloved child, the filmmakers were committed to approaching the next sequel with care and thoughtful planning.
"I wasn't so much afraid of 'topping' the first two, because I didn't think of it that way," says Herz. "I just came at it asking, 'Is what follows a natural progression in the lives of these characters? Is it real?' And obviously and all importantly, 'Is it funny?"'
Producer Chris Moore states, "We were all very proud of what we were able to do with American Pie and American Pie 2, and we didn't want to look like those cheesy old guys who were just remaking the movie over and over again to try and make money. Then, Adam Herz came to everybody and said. 'I could see how funny these characters would be in a wedding.' And that started it all."
Producer Craig Perry remembers, "There was a moment on the set of American Pie 2 when Adam and Chris were talking and I said, 'Please, don't tell me you've got an idea for another one of these things.' Then Adam mentioned his idea about a wedding, complete with a bachelor party and everything, and I thought, 'Damn, that's good."'
Like their counterparts in the first movie, the f1lmmakers made their own pact before proceeding on with their "next step."
Herz explains, "This trilogy is about the rites of passage in these characters' lives. The first one was about losing your virginity. The second one is about that strange transition into the beginnings of adulthood, like 'Who am I, who are my friends and what's going on?' The third-well, a wedding, naturally, what else?"
Producer Chris Bender says, "Everyone can relate to the Pie characters. I mean, everyone has a Stifler friend, a Finch friend. And everyone has a little Jim in them. You can relate to having sex for the frst time...or getting married. Everyone is going to go through this at some point in their lives and most likely, something embarrassing is going to happen."
Moore continues, "We had made a pact of our own on American Pie 2-that if we were going to do it, we needed to get it right-and I think we honored that agreement in the third installment."
For the filmmakers, the biggest challenge in "getting it right" was designing a story that would be fresh, funny and fast-paced-while including as much of the original cast as the story could follow. To that end, they made some difficult choices on which characters to focus on for American Wedding and then faced the challenge of getting those actors to return.
"It's really a testament to Adam's script," says Moore, "that we were able to get everyone back that we wanted. There are a couple of characters that don't return, but it's not because we didn't want them. The story, unfortunately, isn't about their characters anymore. So the actors were cool about it and said that they understood."
"I think the success of the American Pie franchise is completely dependent upon the talented actors and the wonderful characters they play. I think they are so inextricably bound together because they have truly made these characters their own," offers Perry. "These actors have good careers and for them to want to return to characters that they have already played is great. But Adam's script is really funny. It was key to their return. Without this group of actors, it'd be just American Pie. The New Batch."
Herz offers an explanation for the driving force behind the fans' infatuation with the characters- he feels that they care about Jim and the gang, and return to see the characters that they love doing the things they love to see (e.g., Jim being embarrassed by his Dad, Michelle dropping another unexpected zinger, and pretty much everyone being appalled by something that Stifler has done).
"But there is a heart in all of this. It's kind of the way I wish people could always be-having fur together and relating warmly to each other, but ir strange ways," Herz notes with a smile.
Returning in the roles they have indelibly created are Jason Biggs as Jim, Alyson Hannigan as Michelle, Thomas Ian Nicholas as Kevin, Seann William Scott as Steve Stifler, Eddie Kaye Thomas as Finch, Molly Cheek as Jim's Mom and Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad. Michelle's family now enters the scene (January Jones as her sister, Cadence, with Fred Willard and Deborah Rush as Harold and Mary, her Dad and Mom) to help with the pending nuptials. Additionally, other actors make welcome comic appearances in both returning and newly created roles.
As in the prior outings, at the center of all of the craziness is Jim, whose good-natur~d attempts to deal with life's awkward little situations that accompany maturation continue inAmerican Wedding.
Biggs says, "I initially had some reservations mainly about how they were going to come up with a story, but Adam, who wrote the first two brilliantly, has come back and done another amazing job using the wedding to implement some amazing set pieces."
As Jim's f1ancee, Michelle, now not so obsessed with band camp, Alyson Hannigan offers, "Once I heard about the wedding, I knew it was going to be really funny. I sort of thought, 'Well, let's see, he did it twice, so third time's probably a charm.' And of course, it was. This has all of the sweetness and the laughs of the first two."
Newcomer January Jones (as Michelle's younger sister, Cadence) recalls, "I was a bit nervous on the first day. I mean I loved the first two movies everyone I know did. But I kinda felt like I might be sort of a party crasher, and I was so wrong. After the frst day, and everyone was so nice and helpful, I thought, 'Now, why did I ever worry?"'
Thomas lan Nicholas, back as Kevin, invokes another famous trilogy and comments, "When I heard thcre would be a third installment, I was curious to know how it was going to work. I mean, usually sequels have the same kind of plot-like Indiana Jones is always going after a sacred artifact. In American Pie, it was all about us going after sex all thc time. That's not what this one's about- they're getting married, which I suppose is still about sex, and it's still just as funny as ever-but the story of this one is new and different. And I'm glad I'm along for the ride."
Seann William Scott, as the ever-quotable Stifler, concurs, "1 thought we were so fortunate that people liked the first two that I didn't want to do anything that would take away from people's enjoyment of the movies. Then, I read the script and it just ruined me because it was the funniest thing that I'd ever read."
Finch's off-screen alter ego, Eddie Kaye Thomas, summarizes, "It's so rare to find a really funny script-let alone three in a series. I also think it's rare for comedies not to assume that their audiences are idiots or childish. Our stories have the ring of recognition, like 'Oh, man, I did that, too!"'
Back to the Basics
Herz and the filmmakers had hit upon a different twist on the their formula, but they were mindful to keep American Wedding close to its roots.
"I really think this is the funniest of the trilogy. It harkens back to the first one where there was a lot of humor and a lot of heart," observes Moore.
Eugene Levy, back again as Jim's unfrappable Dad, agrees, "I really think this script is the strongest of the three. The comedy is relentless in this script and it's closer to the first American Pie because it has a lot of heart. It's not afraid to be a little bit sentimental, which I think is a good thing."
Herz responds, "People saying this is the strongest of the three makes me feel really proud. Alneri(an Pie was the first script I ever wrote, so I hope I have grown as a writer, gotten better. I want people to believe these are real characters and continue to enjoy them."
Whether you are making a pie or a cake, creating a successful American Wedding required just the right recipe. Once again, they needed a capable chef to combine all of the on-screen ingredients. The right choice for the third installment was director Jesse Dylan.
"Jesse had a very clear vision of what this movie was, yet he allowed the actors to have the freedom to experiment," observes Perry.
Coming in as a new director with a group of actors who have clearly established their characters can be a daunting task. But Dylan received the highest marks from everyone involved.
Biggs comments, "I think Jesse had the toughest job out of anyone involved in this movie. He had to come in and allow the actors to have some creative freedom while still guiding them in the right direction. Jesse has done a great job."
"I think Jesse's awesome," observes Scott. "What really surprised me about him was how funny he is. Although, if someone's hired to direct a comedy, you'd expect him to be funny, right? He has so many great ideas and he's not afraid to try things to experiment."
The director of the hit How High was thrilled to be helming the latest in the Pie series and says, "I think a lot of people would have been anxious about stepping into this job. Two hits prior to this, and now here I come to direct, right? But on the contrary, I was eager to work with this fun and talented cast, these filmmakers and crew. It was like stepping in to play lead for an awesome rock band. It's the best environment to join a group of people working at the top."
Dylan embraced the heritage of the first two films as vital and necessary to the characters in American Wedding but, he offers, "I really approached this as a separate film, not something with a number in the title. It stands very much on its own-a funny, romantic wedding comedy that features familiar characters in new ways."
It's All About Family
American Wedding finds our heroes back together, rounded up for another rite of passage-a wedding. They have all graduated from college and are simultaneously happy and reluctant to head down the path towards adulthood. But as the filmmakers found with the previous outings, it's the feeling that these friends are family to each other that holds the group together and keeps the comedy from becoming too unbelievable.
"We wanted to build the comedy around situations everyone can relate to," says Herz. "When people get married, it brings out all sorts of things. It's all very pressurized, and the expectations are very high. And once things fall apart, as something invariably does in a big celebration, that's just prime stuff for comedy."
Simply, the movie's two central characters are in love and want to be married. They need their friends and family to help them pull off a perfect wedding. Pressurized?...check.
High expectations?...check. Comedy?...definite check.
"What's great about this movie is that it has so much heart. We follow Jim and Michelle through the first two movies and it's nice to see Jim grow up and really want to give Michelle the wedding of her dreams," offers Scott.
The problem is Jim's friends think he is crazy. They still want to hang out, get drunk and meet girls. But being Jim's friends, and really an extension of his family, they relent and help him with his wedding even though they are still pursuing the single life.
Especially Stifler. His main interest is the bachelor party-booze, naked girls, jello. In a rare moment of almost-selflessness, Stifler agrees to teach the double left-footed Jim how to dance, in preparation to wow his new bride on their wedding night. However, this is only done after Jim agrees to let Stifler plan the bachelor bonanza. "An American Pie wedding wouldn't be complete without a bachelor party. And an American Pie bachelor party wouldn't be complete without hot, naked girls. And no American Pie scene with hot naked girls would be complete unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong for the guys. Let's just say that there's bondage, chocolate sauce, spanking, a large sommelier in buttless chaps-and Jim's future in-laws," explains Herz.
In American Pie, the guys keep score in the Game of Love, and it's no different in American Wecl(ling. And once again, Stifler is the major contender and Finch is determined to beat his score.
"Well, the Stifler and Finch storyline has always been a good one. In the original, Stifler was just the bad guy of the movie and Finch got the ultimate revenge. But what would you do if some guy your age slept with your mother?," poses producer Moore.
In American Wedding, Finch and Stifler end up of vying for the same girl's affections-Cadence.
"Adam really thought of a pretty amazing way for us to have a competition," says Eddie Kaye Thomas. "It was a way for Seann and I to go out there and try tons of new stuff."
Seann William Scott elaborates, ' Finch sees an opportunity to start acting like me. He calls himself the Finchmeister. So we have this duel, with Stifler doing his version of the polite nice guy. It was a great opportunity to go completely overboard."
Herz muses, "It's been four years since we've met these characters, but out of all of them, Stifler hasn't matured. He's had four more years of practice being 'Stifler.' If anything, he's worse. But by the end of the film, though, we see a little bit of Steve that we might not have seen before, which l n really happy about."
In the meantime, Jim is just trying to dodge mishaps and have a beautiful wedding. "Jim is just trying to grow up and not be the 'crazy glue, pie humping, caught jerking off by his parents' guy," cracks Biggs.
Jim may be the friend everyone wishes they had, while Stifler is the guy you wish you could forget.
"The goal I had with Stifler was to make him the guy you hate to love, not the guy you love to hate. explains Scott.
"Comedy in the American Pie franchise is never mean-spirited," says producer Perry. "You laugh out of embarrassment for these guys because, lord knows, we've all been there. So we give you the hijinks, along with the sweetness and the innocence behind the laughs."
Still, it wouldn't be an American Pie if the summer fun didn't get a little down and dirty. "There are virgins, strippers and a gay bar," promises Moore. "You will find out what really goes on with Grandma at the wedding. The rest I leave to your imagination."
You Still Gotta Have Friends
At the heart of the American Pie franchise are four archetypal young men who remain close friends in spite of their differences. Jim is the good guy who always screws things up, Stifler is the quintessential bad boy, Kevin is the "glue" and Finch is the mysterious sophisticate.
The summer reunion of Jim, Stifler, Kevin and Finch also meant a reunion for Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Thomas lan Nicholas and Eddie Kaye Thomas.
"I have a large group of people on this movie that I consider my friends. Seann is awesome, he is the sweetest guy you will ever meet. Eddie Kaye Thomas, the same thing. He's a great guy. Thomas lan Nicholas is back, Alyson Hannigan is back . . . they are all wonderful. I was so lucky to get to work with them a third time. We all have a great time," says Biggs.
Scott adds, "I have been really lucky to be surrounded by such a bunch of great actors-Jason, Eddie and Thomas. They are so good they make my job easy."
For most of the actors, their friendships have continued off-screen as well. Friendship, according to the cast and filmmakers, is the reason it all works.
"Jason and I hang out. We have known each other for a while and his comedic instincts are amazing. Watching Seann and Thomas, they all deliver so consistently. It's a thrill to get the chance to work with them again," says Eddie Kaye Thomas.
Nicholas has a slightly different take on the cast reunion and observes, "Something happens when we all get together. It's a neat spark on set-it was on the first and on the second and I felt it again on the third. It's always a good time and I really haven't experienced it anywhere else, so I guess we will have to keep making these movies."
Alyson Hannigan got to experience some new friendships on the third installment, in addition to continuing her work with Biggs. She notes, "It's lovely to work with everyone again, especially since 1 never really got the opportunity to work previously with all of the other guys. Most of my scenes in the first and second movies were isolated with Jason, so it was nice to actually be in the group scenes and get to know the guys better. It was a blast."
For Eugene Levy, working with Jason Biggs was like working with his own son. He comments~"You know, I feel that close to Jason. It was established on the first American Pie and has continued through all three. But, this has been the most fun for me because I have gotten the chance to hang more with the cast, with Jason and the rest of the kids, and I really enjoyed it."
The man responsible for bringing all of the cast back together was glad to provide an enjoyable work environment and happy that he could provide a good time. After all, that is exactly what he is aiming to do for the devoted (as well as the new) American Pie fans.
Adam Herz closes, "I just want people to laugh their asses off, then go, 'Aww, that was kinda sweet, too.' And then laugh some more."
Universal Pictures Presents A Zide/Perry LivePlanet Production: American Wedding, starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, January Jones, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Fred Willard and Eugene Levy. The costume designer is Pamela Withers Chilton. The music is by Christophe Beck. The editor is Stuart Pappe. The production designer is Clayton Hartley and the director of photography is Lloyd Ahern, A.S.C. The film is based on characters created by Adam Herz. The executive producers are Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz and Louis G. Friedman. American Wedding is produced by Warren Zide, Craig Perry, Chris Moore, Adam Herz and Chris Bender. It is written by Adam Herz and directed by Jesse Dyla.n. The film is distributed worldwide by Universal Pictures. (c)2003 Universal Studios
About the Cast
In the summer of 1999, relative unknown Jason Biggs (Jim) became one of Hollywood's most talked about actors for his role as "Jim" in Universal's blockbuster comedy, American Pie. Since the film's release, Biggs I has becomc one of the most sought-after young actors in Hollywood.
Biggs was most recently seen reprising his role of "Jim" in American Pie 2, but has been busy behind the camera with several other projects. Upcoming films include a starring role opposite Christina Ricci in the romantic comedy Anything Else, directed by Woody Allen and to be released this September. He will also be starring opposite Ricci in the film adaptation of Elizabeth Wurtzel's best-selling biography, Prozac Nation, which will be released this winter. The actor also has a starring role in Kevin Smith's upcoming comedy Jersey Girl, due out early next year. Previous credits include starring roles in Saving Silverman and Loser.
Last year, Biggs returned to Broadway opposite Kathleen Turner and Alicia Silverstone in the stage version of The Graduate.
His past television credits include co-starring roles in Drexels Class and Total Security. His portrayal of "Pete Wendell" on the daytime drama As the World Turns garnered him several nominations, including the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series.
For his role in American Pie, Jason was nominated for two MTV Movie Awards (Best Comedic Performance and Best Breakthrough Male Performance), as well as for a Blockbuster Award and a Movieline Magazine Award.
The Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey native started acting at the age of five with national commercials and modeling. At age 13, he made his Broadway debut opposite Judd Hirsch in the critically acclaimed Broadway play Conversations with My Father.
In a profession where young actors are a "dime a dozen" and interchangeable with each other, it is difficult to find a performer who stands uniquely on their own. Alyson Hannigan (Michelle) is one of the few exceptions.
Exciting newcomer January Jones (Cadence) was most recently seen in the hit film Anger Management, alongside Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. Prior.to that, she was seen in Bandits, with Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett for director/producer Barry Levinson; and Full Frontal, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Jones has also just completed filming a role in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, which is scheduled for release in 2004.
Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin) knew he wanted to be an actor when he began his career at the age of seven portraying a young Tony Danza on Who's the Boss? Since his debut, he has landed many guest and lead roles on television, including a guest starring story arc on the last season of Party of Five. He also starred in family feature films, including Rookie of the Year, A Kid in King Arthur's Court and its sequel, A Kid in Aladdin s Palace
In 2002, he co-starred in Halloween: The Homecoming opposite Busta Rymes, Tyra Banks, Sean Patrick Thomas and Jamie Lee Curtis, and The Rules of Attraction opposite James Van Der Beek, directed by Roger Avry. Upcoming, Thomas portrays Frank Sinatra, Jr. (co-starring with William H. Macy and David Arquette) in Stealing Sinatra. (In the film you will hear Thomas actually singing.)
From the 1993 hit movie Rookie of the Year to the international smash hits of l999's American Pie and 2001's American Pie 2; from those early dance steps with Tony in 1988 to the final episode of Party of Five in 2000-this young man has continued to share his love of acting with us.
One of Thom's fondest memories takes him back to the mound at Wrigley Field during the shooting of Rookie of the Year, when 35,000 Cubs fans were in the stands that day for a real double header. "In between games, we filmed the scene of Henry walking out to the pitcher's mound for the first time. It was so awesome with all those people chanting my [character] name. Afterward, the Cubs started losing, and the fans began chanting for Henry again."
Thomas also holds a love of music equal to his love of acting. He writes, sings and plays guitar and is working on a solo project. Thom never stops exploring the music world. He learned the violin for his character "Todd" on Party of Five. In 1998, his band "the T.I.N. men," released their first album, Something More. Thomas currently has a solo album in the works.
November 2002 debuted Thomas Ian Nicholas as director of his first feature film entitled L.A.D. J., which he co-wrote with his brother Tim. They also star in the film. Thom's goal is to continue to entertain us on both the small and the big screen, in front of and behind the camera, and to make music he and the rest of us can enjoy.
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