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Q&A: Seann William Scott of 'Goon'

Matt Pais, @mattpais

RedEye movie critic

March 26, 2012

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 After a career spent playing what he calls “jackasses,” Seann William Scott has no idea why he was the filmmakers' choice to star as a nice guy in “Goon.” Even if that nice guy, based on real-life minor league hockey player Doug Smith, specializes in beating the crap out of his opponents.

“Most actors I think are kinda tiny—they’re a lot shorter than you think when you see them—so maybe with the physicality [of the role], they had heard that I was a bit athletic,” says Scott, who notes that he was voted Most Friendly in high school. “That's my claim to fame in high school. I was a nice guy.”

The role suits him well. Having minimal hockey experience despite growing up in Minnesota, Scott makes his violent character surprisingly endearing while spending much of the film with his fist to someone’s face (or vice-versa). On the phone from New York, Scott talked about his sure-fire Oscar chances for playing a real person, his own face-punching experiences and what Steve Stifler of the upcoming “American Reunion” will be doing in 40 years.

How challenging was it to play a real person, and how did your transformation compare to, say, Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher?
[Laughs.] That’s the best question anybody’s ever asked me. I think I brought to life this character possibly better than Meryl Streep did with Margaret Thatcher. I would be shocked if I don’t win an Academy Award. [Laughs.] Don’t print that, dude, I’m joking. [Laughs.] Honestly, I didn’t meet Doug Smith before. They had taken everything that they wanted to from Doug Smith and then [co-writer/co-star Jay Baruchel] wrote his own interpretation of what he wanted the character to be. To be honest, as much as he was based on a real person, I used all that information and did the best that I could to make sure I didn’t [bleep] it all up for everybody.
 
When we include that full answer, we’ll be sure to include that you were joking.
[Laughs.] Yeah, OK, please do. Please, please do put, “I’m joking.”
 
How many times in your life have you been punched in the face?
You know what? I got a pretty hard head. I’ve been punched in the head a couple times. Any scrapes I’ve gotten into, I only fought people I knew I could kick their ass. Except for a couple guys, I was a little unsure, but then I did a pretty good job. [Laughs.]
 
Is that more or fewer times than you punched someone?
Oh, I’ve been punched in the face fewer times. As much as my character in the movie can get rocked in the head, I definitely am not nearly as tough. I don’t know anybody [who is]—what am I talking about?—the character’s almost kind of a superhero.
 
Were those incidents a long time ago? When does conflict come to face-punching?
Yeah, it was a while ago. Any of the recent ones my lawyer doesn’t want to me to discuss. [Laughs.]
 
You have “American Reunion” coming up. How much did making the movie feel like a high school reunion--people you haven’t seen for a while, taking stock of where everyone is?
It definitely—you know what, I unfortunately missed my high school reunion. It did feel that way, or a reunion in a sense, because I hadn’t seen a lot of the actors since maybe 2004, and some of them since 2001. And most of us started our careers together. But after hanging with these guys for a week we were just having a ball no matter what. It was like, “All right, I just saw you yesterday. The reunion is over; let’s just have some [bleeping] fun.”
 
What will Stifler be doing in 40 years for “American Retirement”?
In 40 years? I would say he’ll probably still be [bleeping] in coolers. Which when you see the movie it’ll make sense.
 
Even when he’s pushing 70?
Oh, yeah. He’ll probably be [bleeping] his pants then. [Laughs.] He’ll definitely be wearing his Depends.
 
In many of your movies there’s been an abundance of bathroom humor. Is there any bathroom humor you’d refuse to do, or has there been an idea you had to turn down?
Obviously I’ll do anything for a laugh. [Laughs.]
 
Why obviously?
They’re just like, “All right, we need somebody to do some really disgusting [bleep] in this movie. Hey, Seann William Scott!” “All right, he’ll do anything! He’s a dancing monkey, just put a quarter in his mouth and watch him clap!” I was a little bit reluctant to, when we shot “American Reunion,” my character takes a [bleep] in this kid’s cooler for revenge. And I was like, “Ah, that sounds funny,” but I didn’t realize, man, that they were going to show my whole ass in the scene. It was like, I haven’t been doing squats or lunges and [bleep]. I was super white. I was literally so white that my ass was glowing in the dark. And it was light out. So I wasn’t so cool with that. But then we did end up shooting it, it’s really funny. I think I’ve done every disgusting thing that you could do, so I’m going to retire from movies.
 
How much of your ass did you think they would show?
I just thought it was going to be a side shot. I didn’t know it was going to be front, side, back, ass crack and everything, up and in between. They showed it all.
 
Tell me a funny story about your “Role Models” co-star Paul Rudd.
Oh, that guy’s funny all the time. You had to kind of be there, but we have lunch on set and I had fish, I think I had fish, I can’t remember, and I didn’t finish it on purpose so I put it back in the little Styrofoam container and I stuck it under the seat of his car. So I think days went by and that fish was smelling like absolute ass. He found out that I did it, and for the longest time I would go into my trailer afterwards and it just smelled like [bleep]. And I was like, “[Bleeping] Rudd, I know he did something.” And he took one of his baby’s [bleepy] diapers and put it under the couch that I had been sitting on for a while. It’s a little bit silly but it was pretty good, I gotta say, following up rotten fish with a [bleepy] diaper, it was pretty good.
 
How long did it take you to find the diaper?
I don’t remember, but it smelled like it had been there for years. It was awful.
 
You said that you’d like to do something more serious but you’ll probably end up doing “American Pie 5” or “Dude, Where’s My Car Again?” At this point in your career, what’s something you really want to do, and how limited do you feel to pick projects based on opportunities, not quality?
Well, you know what, I think no matter what actor you are out there—obviously if you’re doing really well, you’re going to see more opportunities. But even in the comedy world, there’s not that many good comedy scripts out there. It’s shocking to see some of the films the studios are making, some of the comedies. So I guess we’re all kind of limited in a way ‘cause the quality of the scripts isn’t very good sometimes. But the kind of films that I would love to do, I think it would be finding a young Andrew Dominik or a young director to do something like “Chopper,” Eric Bana played that role Chopper, or Tom Hardy’s role in “Bronson.” That’s the kind of stuff I’d love to do. Or maybe I won’t even do “Dude, Where’s My Car? 2” we’ll just re-do “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and see if we can make it better.
 
When will you write something for yourself?
I’m writing a trilogy of pornos called “Not Yo Momma 1,” “Not Yo Momma 2” and “Not Yo Momma 3.”
 
Plus:
On Chicago: “Well I had the fortunate experience to shoot “The Promotion” in Chicago. It was fantastic. My best buddy lives there. The thing is, I don’t know how else I can say it, the last time I went there I seriously was like, I just visited my buddy and I was seriously considering getting a place there. ‘Cause I just love it. I would say probably my favorite experience was going to Wrigley Field. Finally. ‘Cause I grew up in Minnesota and we have WGN so I’d watch as many Cubs games as possible. So Sandberg that was my era, so going to Wrigley Field, I couldn’t believe that it actually was even more beautiful than I had imagined for so many years.”
His favorite baseball player: Ryne Sandberg
His guilty pleasure movie: “Guilty pleasure? Let me think. [Bleep], man, most of the movies I watch are guilty pleasures. [Laughs.] They’re mostly on late-night Cinemax. I just don’t know the titles.”
Guilty pleasure band: “I would say … what’s a song that, I’m trying to think of some weird [bleep] that I listen to. I’m trying to think, ‘cause I like to stay hip with the young kids. I would say Justin Bieber. I’m totally into the Bieber fever.”
Want to belt out a couple of verses? “Oh, I mean, I’m not that into it. I like the songs but I’m not [bleeping] reciting this. [Laughs.] I don’t know their [bleep]. [Laughs.] … I wish I did. If I did, dude, by the way, I would [bleeping] sing it out right now.”

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais