There's a scene in "American Reunion" where Chris Klein, returning as Chris "Oz" Ostreicher, reunites with Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) and laments about missing Jim's wedding. In the film, it's a simple (and slightly awkward) line of exposition. In reality, Klein states that he wasn't asked to be in "American Wedding," despite published reports to the contrary.
In "American Reunion," Klein's Oz is now an on-air personality for an ESPN-type network. Actually, the entire original cast has returned for what turns out to be the Class of '99's 13-year reunion.
In our conversation, Klein discussed his absence from the third film, the ups and downs of being an actor in Hollywood and, yes, looked back on his leaked audition for "Mamma Mia" that took the Internet by storm.
I feel you've had a long day with all of the press.
Oh, I have had a long day. But it's a beautiful Sunday and I'm happy to be talking to you.
I spoke to Jason Biggs about eight hours ago. I've had time to start and almost finish reading "The Hunger Games."
Oh, great. Right on!
I think I used my time wisely?
Well, there's nothing better than putting your feet up on a Sunday afternoon and grabbing a good book.
Here's my takeaway from "American Reunion": Maybe I'm getting old, but I enjoyed the poignant scenes with these characters more than the comedy.
Yeah, you are getting old.
Oh, me too, though, man! Me too! And that's our brand. That's the "American Pie" brand. Our comedy has never been mean-spirited. Even the stuff that Stifler does is never mean-spirited. And the touching moments in this film are really incredibly touching. That's a testament to writing and good comedy and I feel very fortunate to be part of a franchise that has both.
The one line that I didn't buy was Oz's line when he first sees Jim, "I missed your wedding, but I'd never miss this." I feel Chris Klein might miss a sequel, but Oz would have never missed Jim's wedding.
Oh, man. Yeah. And I'll tell you what: I completely agree with you. And I sure wish that they had invited me to play Oz at the wedding. Unfortunately, that was a creative decision made way above my pay grade, my man.
Oh, I was under the impression that it was your decision not to do "American Wedding."
Yeah, a lot of people assume that. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Had there been a part there for me to play and a part for Mena [Suvari] to play and a part for Tara [Reid] to play, we absolutely would have jumped on board.
So, when you were approached for this one, was there any feeling of, "Hey, screw you."
Never. No, there's none of that. Not with this franchise. That's not who we are. That's not how we got cast in these movies. These movies to me, personally, are incredibly special. As not only a willing participant in these movies, but also as an audience member. And I cherish my moments in the "American Pie" franchise and I'm really grateful that I get to be a part of it. Because back in 1998 when we made the first movie, we were all just hoping to get a summer job. And then "American Pie" did well and all of us were ushered into acting careers based on the success of the very first movie.
There's a sweetness in this movie that didn't really seem to be part of the other sequels.
If you talk to the directors, that was one of their big goals in making this reunion. To bring back a similar tone that existed in the first movie that sort of gets a little bit hazy as this turns into a franchise.
And the "American Pie Presents" straight-to-DVD releases -- those didn't help.
And, listen, for us original generation cast, that's a whole different animal. You'll have to talk to somebody over at Universal about that.
You had a nice run with "Election" and then "American Pie." Was there any offers from that time period that you regret turning down?
Oh, that's interesting. You know [pauses], I don't know, man. I guess I've thought about that once in a while. Except that my career really hasn't worked that way. In the movies that I've been a part of, I've kind of scratched and fought and kicked to be a part of. There's a certain thought process about actors that they are in Hollywood and they sit around pools and get suntans and just get offered jobs.
That sounds like a nice life.
That would be a nice life. And there are those. There are those one-percenters that get to make their own calls. For me, I've always been one that reads a script and has been ready, wiling and able to go out and fight for parts. And some of the parts that I haven't gotten, when I see those movies, I always watch them and go, "Yeah, I can see why I didn't get that."
That's an interesting way to look at it. Is that always healthy?
You know, this is acting. And it's acting for the camera. And the truth is, as a human being, I bring what I bring. So if they need a blond and I happen to have brown hair, then that's what they needed. Hey, maybe they needed blue eyes and I have brown eyes. I mean, we get that specific here in Hollywood. So I would be silly and incredibly naive to believe that this was simply a talent competition. Because it's not.
You did a Funny or Die audition video as a response to a real audition video that was on the Internet.
Well, we got a big laugh out of that. We had fun making that.
In that type of situation, do you go to Funny or Die or did they come to you?
Well, you know what happened, man? So an audition that I had done years ago for "Mamma Mia," somehow, was put on to the web. And it's a horrible audition. And I took a chance -- I can't sing! I don't know why I was in there. But I took a chance! It's a musical -- let's see if I can give it a shot. And, you know, the way that they put it out there, it gets taken out of context and all that kind of thing. It was really a dreadful audition.
Talk about a reason that I didn't get a part, man! I mean [laughs], oh my God. What a terrible thing! So, then, I thought, Oh my gosh, how many horrible auditions have I had? Thousands. And what a funny bit. I'm a huge fan of Funny or Die and had toyed with the idea of putting something together with them. So, when that happened, it was just perfect. Let's put together some funny auditions. Because the audition process is such a hoot anyway. And, listen, I'm not going to be great all of the time.
It was a shrewd decision. It was a funny video and it quelled the original video because you're now making fun of yourself.
Oh, it wasn't even a competition, man. It was us having fun. And, you know, I don't take myself too seriously and Funny or Die was a good way to do that.
When that original video hit, were you angry? I mean, I would be angry if a video came out of me during a job interview. It's a very vulnerable position.
Oh, no. I thought to myself, Wow, did I piss somebody off? Or maybe it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. You know? [Laughs] Who knows? And it's all good, man. It's all in the scheme of things.
Well, best of luck. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
Hey, have a beautiful rest of your Sunday. And, hey, enjoy the rest of "The Hunger Games."