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.]