"We all look pretty good!" Tara Reid announces as she eyes up her American Pie castmates gathered in the green room. It's been 20 years since the teen sex comedy was released in theaters on July 9, 1999, and the cast has gathered for a reunion on ET's stage. "What if Seann walks in," Jason Biggs jokes, "and he's got, like, a walker and he's drooling?"
"One of us had to," Chris Klein laughs.
The cast already had a high school reunion, of sorts, in 2012's American Reunion, but that was the last time they were in one room together. There's Biggs (who played fumbling virgin Jim), Klein (Casanova Chris "Oz" Ostreicher") and Reid (girl next door Vicky), plus Alyson Hannigan (band geek Michelle Flaherty) and Eddie Kaye Thomas (mochaccino-drinking dilettante Paul "Sh*tbreak" Finch). (Like art imitating life, Shannon Elizabeth, who played foreign exchange student Nadia, is abroad, living in South Africa, where she works in animal rescue.)
Seann William Scott, forever known as The Stifmeister, eagerly joins the group soon after, his arrival prompting a chorus of "You look the same!" from Hannigan and "You look f--king great!" from Biggs and "You smell nice" from Thomas. Scott grins, "That’s all I've got going." Natasha Lyonne (sage best friend Jessica) rounds out the reunion, removing her sunglasses to greet everyone, "Hello, kids! What's up?"
"Whenever I see this group it just really takes me back and it feels like no time has passed," Biggs says. Two decades have, however, as evidenced by their passing around cell phones to show pictures of their respective kids. They talk about moving to the suburbs to spend more time with their families and their commutes, about golf games and turning 40, date nights and engagements and marriages and is anyone planning to have more babies anytime soon? Definitely, somebody responds, "I'm going to have some more sex." So, maybe some things never change.
Below, ET brings together the East Great Falls High class of '99 to share their favorite memories from set and reflect on the legacy of pop culture's most infamous flute.
The summer of 1999 was all about sex. In "American Pie," a group of suburban high school seniors make a pact to lose their virginity before graduation. The title comes from a line in the film -- about third base feeling like "warm apple pie" -- and subsequent scene in which Jim (Biggs) makes love to a freshly baked pastry. The moment goes down as the most famous pie scene in all of cinematic history and was likewise "life-changing" for the actor.
EDDIE KAYE THOMAS: The way you screwed that pie changed everything, Jason.
JASON BIGGS: Let's really take a moment and talk about this. It's funny, I knew that I was going to be reading for that role, and so I was reading the script and it got to that scene and I laughed out loud -- and this was before Eugene [Levy] was even cast, so I didn't really even fully know the degree to which it was going to be hilarious. But I just thought, "Oh my god, that's amazing. I've never read anything like that. I've never seen anything like that." And I remember saying to myself, "God, I really hope I get this part. I really want to do that." Like, "That seems like something I would love to go for. I'm going to be a fearless comedian." And I got the part and the day of filming this scene, I had a complete freak-out and I called my manager in my trailer and I was like, "Am I really going to do this?" And he was like, "You f**k the sh*t out of that pie." I had one moment of freak-out, like, What if no one sees this? What if absolutely no one sees this and I f**k a pie for no other reason than I got paid very little money to f**k a pie? I kind of freaked out, but then he gave me a vote of confidence and I went in there and I did it. And I did it hard and I did it good and I did it long.
NATASHA LYONNE: And you did it gorgeously. You did it beautifully.
ALYSON HANNIGAN: And now we're going to cut to the pie and see what the pie thinks. [Laughs] The pie speaks for the first time in 20 years!
BIGGS: "I've never been the same! He took my innocence!"
The pie wasn't the movie's only inanimate object of affection, as Hannigan's character, kinky band geek Michelle Flaherty, infamously tells Jim, "One time, at band camp, I stuck a flute in my--" Well, you know the rest. Of the movie's endlessly parroted quotes, it is perhaps the most iconic.
HANNIGAN: Actually, when [Jason] was saying that-- My experience, I can't imagine! Because you go to restaurants all the time and how many times do they ask, "Oh, do you want any dessert?" And that must be so hard for you.
BIGGS: Spoiler alert, it is! It's so much fun though, you guys! I'm totally fine, you guys!
HANNIGAN: I feel for Jason. No, it's wonderful to be in a film that somebody remembers 20 years after it came out. I just worry about my children. I don't want to answer those questions yet. God, I hope I'm not around [when they see the movie]. Hopefully they're in college and they don't tell me. I don't want to know.
"American Pie" was the first screenplay written by Adam Herz, based on his own time at East Great Falls High, and marked the directorial debut of Chris and Paul Weitz. (The brothers went on to direct the likes of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" and "Little Fockers," respectively.) The cast of mostly up-and-coming and unknown stars began filming in the summer of '98.
LYONNE: Tara and I were just reminiscing about her apartment, and I remember us going there and we used to order a lot of pizzas. I feel like we were so young that we only understood that you could order pizza. Also, time was different then. You didn't have cell phones. You had to call up on the landline and there was only really one delivery service, not like today. That's what it was like. It was 1921. And then we used to, like, put on hats and take Polaroids. They didn't even have cameras then.
HANNIGAN: I always learn at interviews what happened, because I feel like I was still doing Buffy and all the things, so I missed out on the fun. I wasn't there.
THOMAS: I remember me and Biggs got tickets to some MTV awards ceremony and we were so excited, and we went there and we sat in the corner and didn't speak to anybody but each other--
BIGGS: And we barely did that.
THOMAS: And we saw Hannigan having a great time.
BIGGS: You were already a big Buffy star at this point.
THOMAS: Actually, the three ladies on the couch were already established and well known. And then we were the schlemiel of the group. And then we went to an MTV thing, like, a year later and we actually had people to talk to. And now we don't even get invited anymore.
BIGGS: We've come full circle.
LYONNE: I remember being at that premiere. At the time I was dating Eddie Furlong, Clea DuVall was my best friend, and I have pictures from that night of us sitting there being, like, really tough, '90s. Like, Kurt Cobain was big. We're smoking. I'm wearing a lot of black eyeliner. I hadn't dropped out of high school. I had skipped early [to] NYU, so I was somebody that had not had a traditional high school experience and never really fit in. So, I would say I love these guys -- I mean, we're characters in the arts, so I felt loved and accepted and seen -- and I love Chris and Paul Weitz, but I always felt like [American Pie] was such a curiosity. I had never done prom or anything like that, so I didn't quite understand the story we were telling. It was very all-American, very white. It was a very specific story that I didn't fully identify with and I was so surprised and delighted that it was so relatable to the world at large.
The movie's premiere was held on July 7 at the since-rebranded Cineplex Odeon in Universal City, with a red carpet boasting a who's who of would-be A-listers like Ben Affleck, Jessica Biel and Charlize Theron.
SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT: I remember I got out of the car at Universal CityWalk and there were a bunch of kids who had just seen an earlier screening and they're asking for autographs, which blew my mind. And then I started walking towards the theater and walked past this store that I used to work at called Scientific Revolution, where I wore, like, a lab coat and I sold glow-in-the-dark stars and Bill Nye the Science Guy puzzles, like a year or a year and a half before. So, I walked by like, "I can't believe I used to work there and now I get to go to this movie premiere." Then I remember how crazy the theater was, the reaction of all the people because there were two or three movie theaters. The experience of being in the movie was such a dream come true, but then afterwards, the energy that there was, just people buzzing and talking about it, it was unbelievable.
BIGGS: Alyson, didn't you and I have to get on a plane?
HANNIGAN: That's what I remember. I remember taking my makeup off at LAX and changing out of whatever I wore, because he and I had to leave the theater early to go to New York to do some press.
BIGGS: I left my whole family at the premiere party.
"American Pie" received mixed reviews from critics upon its release -- Roger Ebert gave it three stars but wrote that, "The summer of 1999 was the season when Hollywood's last standards of taste fell" -- but it was a boffo hit with moviegoers worldwide. (In Germany, "American Pie" beat out "Mission: Impossible 2" to become the No. 1 film of 2000.)
HANNIGAN: I just remember being really excited for my friends to see it, because I knew they'd really like it. And then apparently a lot of other people felt the same way, because it was huge.
BIGGS: We had a sense on set. Personally, I felt like we were part of something special. I think I could speak for all of us at that time, we were auditioning for all these teen movies. There was a new wave of teen movies that was happening, and this definitely stood out. And then when we got the whole cast together, and we started filming it, and then especially in that year between filming and its release, the red-band trailer was released and that got all this buzz. It was really interesting because the internet was kind of happening, but not obviously in the way it is today.
LYONNE: Was there internet then?
HANNIGAN: I think it was the interweb.
LYONNE: It was, like, dial up.
SCOTT: God, we're f**king old.
LYONNE: [Laughs] Eddie Kaye Thomas just reminded me that the reason we're here today is it's a marker that we're getting closer to death. So, that's something exciting.
CHRIS KLEIN: What's really cool is the fans now are multi-generational. Like, the fans of the original who are our age -- in their 40s, 50s even -- now have children who are discovering the movie. I was at a function yesterday where it was the moms and dads who were stoked and they look at me and they're like, "Huh. Wow, you got old."
That continued popularity means the actors are still recognized for their "American Pie" counterparts on a daily basis, the encounters with fans old and new alike peppered with some of the film's most notable (and more often than not, NSFW) quotables.
HANNIGAN: Well, uhh, you can guess what they scream [at me]. Which was fine before I had children. But now I'd really like them to be like, "Oh, I recognize you." Wink, wink.
BIGGS: Wait, do you get that in front of the kids?
HANNIGAN: Yes. Luckily, they don't finish the sentence, but I stand there terrified that they will.
BIGGS: What does everyone else get?
KLEIN: For years, everybody acted like Stifler and yelled, "Suck me, beautiful" to me. Like, they would wait till I walked by and then give a huge, "Suck me, beautiful." Like, probably a decade.
THOMAS: They just call me Stifler's mom.
KLEIN: I actually call him Stifler's mom. He's in my phone as "Stifler's Mom."
SCOTT: Eddie, that's what I get! People, they see me and they call me Stifler's mom, and I'm like, "I'm confused..."
BIGGS: Actually, Eddie, I'll get sometimes, "Aren't you friends with Sh*tbreak?" I'm like, "Actually, I am. He's my buddy, thanks."
TARA REID: "I'm cumming! I'm cumming!" I get that a lot. And then I got a lot of, like, little girls coming up to me and asking me my advice if they should lose their virginity. And I'm like, "Oh my god! I don't know!" It was really weird. Like, "Keep your virginity! Don't do it yet!"
BIGGS: The Saturday after the movie came out, I was walking with my buddy to go get breakfast and we were crossing the street and a car came by and the kids in the car shouted, "Oh my god! Do the dance, do the dance!" That was the first sort of moment that I had a sense that this thing was bigger than I had ever envisioned. That very next day. So, of course I did the dance. It was on Wilshire Blvd. and I figured-- No, I did not. But I don't get that as much. Nowadays I mostly get, "Oh, it's Adam Sandler." So, that's fun and also f**k my life.
The box-office success of "American Pie" spawned three sequels -- "American Pie 2" (2001), "American Wedding" (2003) and "American Reunion" (2012) -- and a number of direct-to-DVD spinoffs featuring new cast members. But that first movie and the bond formed during filming will always mean something special to its stars.
BIGGS: I feel like it's me growing up. To have this movie and to be able to have made the sequels and to continue to have these relationships 20 years later, you know, usually you do a movie and you move on from it -- TV shows, obviously, notwithstanding. Alyson has two other families that she probably loves more than us. [Laughs] But for me, I feel like I grew up with this. I'm sitting here now, 41 with two kids, and I'm looking back at those interviews and I'm saying to myself, "Wow. I have literally grown up from the time this first movie happened." And what a wonderful group of people to grow up with and what a wonderful movie to be a part of and have it sort of represent my life.
SCOTT: Jason said it really well. It's just a dream come true, to get an opportunity to be in a movie and then have this amazing experience. Because Chris and Paul Weitz, they created this environment where you felt you could do no wrong. I had zero experience, so I came on this set and I was encouraged to try anything and even when you knew things were not funny, they were still laughing. And then it's something that people love as much as they did with this and we got to do three more of them -- and got to keep making movies and have a career. I mean, if it was just this movie, just once, American Pie and that was it, that would have been winning the lottery, but it changed my life.
LYONNE: It's so true that it's such a massive thing to be grateful for, to have any movie at all and then to have it be something that connects so deeply with people, where they feel like their experience is seen. It is sort of deeply idiosyncratic in how bizarre and specific each one of us were, so I think that there's something really special about that, and it's really moving to have such clean feeling towards people 20 years later, that there was no funny business is a nice thing. Like, I love Tara, it makes me so happy to see you, and I just think back, like, we've all been through sort of such big lives and a lot of it hasn't been easy and my experience has not been so clean the whole way through. To still feel loved and supported by this crew is deep stuff. It's the stuff of, like, real life.
REID: For me, it was just such a life-changing period of my life, especially with them. Another thing that was so interesting is everyone's career really went on. There's very few movies you do where the whole ensemble cast is working. It's 20 years later and everyone's doing really good and they're so talented -- this is a really talented group of people -- and you know, I see some other movies that I've been in and it's like, "Oh, OK. Whatever." But anytime I see something with American Pie, it puts a smile on my face. Really, it was a life-changing experience and it still has been.
THOMAS: When I was watching those interviews with us so young, I just realized how crazy lucky I was that I just happened to be 17 when they were casting this movie. It just makes me think, being an actor or anything in entertainment is so hard and it can just be so random. For young actors, you don't know when it's going to happen or what it's going to be and you just show up and do your work. I think that's what we all did. Like Jason said, he didn't know if anyone was ever going to see the fact that he had passionate sex with a pie. [Laughs] But you did it. We've all been involved with other things and this is a group of professional actors that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and it just feels random when it does. And, like, such a blessing. We are all insanely blessed and lucky that we just happened to be the right age at the right time.
KLEIN: That's it, just absolute gratitude. You think about a movie that came out 20 years ago, that we now get to sit and talk about on Entertainment Tonight. That says it all right there. It's a pretty great thing and all of us here are real grateful to Eddie's point [of] right place, right time, right age, right personalities to make this story work. And when we get in the room together, it's the same thing. For some reason this formula all works.
HANNIGAN: I certainly can't say anything more than these guys have, but it is something you couldn't ask for more than this. I loved the script, but you never know what's going to happen. Like, is it going to turn out the way you hoped? Every step of the way it just got better. I remember sitting next to Seann at the first table read and he was so nice and so funny and I felt like we were both sitting there in awe. And just hearing everybody read it for the first time and these characters coming to life and it was even better than sitting there at home reading it myself. It was so fantastic every step of the way and here we are 20 years later and it still holds up. I mean, that doesn't happen that often and so to be a part of that, I will forever be grateful.
BIGGS: Just real quick, who do you like better? Us or your How I Met Your Mother family? Be honest!