THE POPCORN REEL FEATURE STORY: SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT, IN THE NEW COMEDY FILM "THE PROMOTION"


For Seann William Scott, the future's so bright . . .  (Photo: Jesse Grant/WireImage)

Seann William Scott, Deputized (No Sheriffs Were Shot In The Making Of This Interview)

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

June 19, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, California

"I'm a hard worker that's a lazy motherfucker," said Seann William Scott, who last Friday evening was taking care of some odds and ends at a local hotel here. 

"I'm so sorry bro," he says, politely apologizing several times for being a few minutes late to the telephone, over which this conversation was conducted. 

In the interview's initial stages something immediately apparent is Mr. Scott's unfailing honesty and humor.  Perhaps being a "lazy motherfucker" has its privileges, but for Seann William Scott hard work pushed him through to this point -- which is in his current role in Steve Conrad's film directing debut "The Promotion", which is playing right now in numerous cities across the U.S. and Canada.  "Any job that I could find, I would take," the actor said, describing the quest to keep working to put food on the table and maintain a roof over his head.  Nevertheless, for all his industry Mr. Scott couldn't resist reiterating his claim to slackerhood.

"I am the laziest fucking worker on the planet."

Seann William Scott was born in 1976 in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.  At 18, he moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Los Angeles.  He tried to play college basketball but wasn't really happy doing that.  "I wanted to do drama," Mr. Scott said.  Yet drama wasn't exactly what Mr. Scott what he got as landed in the genre that in hindsight was more appropriate.  "My life is one big fucking comedy," he said.  It was no surprise then, that Mr. Scott found a kindred spirit in Steve Stifler in the hit sex comedy "American Pie" (1999), his big screen debut.  Consistent with his comedic life, Mr. Scott noted that his brother and two other colleagues started the satirical political newspaper The Onion, whose headquarters are in Wisconsin.  As for Mr. Scott himself, he mentioned that while drama was an early film consideration he had "always hoped for a career doing broad silly comedies."  (Somehow there seems a tongue-in-cheek aspect to this last comment, yet Mr. Scott sounds completely sincere when he says this over the telephone.)

Horror was part of Mr. Scott's fleeting drama resume on the big screen as "Final Destination" was released in 2000.  That same year though, "broad silly comedies" returned to Mr. Scott 's menu of film roles, including "Road Trip" and "Dude, Where's My Car?"  Other comedies, including "Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back", "Evolution", "Old School" and "Mr. Woodcock" would come Mr. Scott's way.  Throughout, Mr. Scott's onscreen zaniness kept audiences laughing.  "I don't really care about being typecast", he said.  "I wouldn't have a career if it wasn't for the American Pie movies."  Mr. Scott, who said that he doesn't have an agent, "but maybe would get one next week," also appeared in the two big-screen sequels to "American Pie".  (Subsequent editions of the film have been released as straight-to-DVD films.)

On occasion however, Mr. Scott has dared to move in another direction for moviegoing audiences and in "The Promotion", released by The Weinstein Company in the U.S., he plays a subdued, more cerebral character.  Mr. Scott, playing the film's lead, an American named Doug Stauber, seeks a promotion to store manager at Donaldson's Supermarket in Chicago and appears to be on the fast track for the position until a Canadian, Richard Wehlner (played by John C. Reilly) proves to be equally game for being deputized to managerial status.  Mr. Conrad's film, a satirical comedy with quick-fire acid wit that scorches the screen, tracks this highly funny North American tug-of-war between the U.S. and Canadian competitors.  As Doug, Mr. Scott's wheels are always turning.  With the new film Mr. Scott said he wanted to "try something different as an actor," and while he has aspired to do drama and certainly hits a different note in "The Promotion", he wanted to disabuse any notions of crossing over to grim or gravely serious subject matter.  "I wasn't trying to do a sequel to 'Schindler's List'," he said of his approach to acting in "The Promotion". 


Seann John: Seann William Scott (left), as Doug, and John C. Reilly as Richard, on the L train in Chicago in "The Promotion", Steve Conrad's directing debut.  Mr. Scott and Mr. Reilly play workers competing for a promotion at a supermarket chain.  The satirical comedy is now playing in the U.S. and Canada.  (Photo: Chuck Hodes/The Weinstein Company)

To hear Seann William Scott say it, Doug Stauber is indicative of the ordinary family man in America who just wants to make a living despite their 9-to-5 occupation.  "Most people don't really enjoy their job but they try to do the best they can," he said, drawing a parallel to the film character.  The one-upmanship that goes back and forth in the film has its ups and downs, and while real-life competition at a job, whether in Hollywood or on Main Street is far from uncommon, some of the things that occur in "The Promotion" amplify real life for comedy's sake, providing a little food for thought. 

Off screen, in the persona of John C. Reilly, Mr. Scott seemed to meet his match.  "The guy was so fucking funny.  He was so good that I was intimidated," Mr. Scott confessed of his co-star.  "This guy might be the funniest guy in America," Mr. Scott added.  The actor cited that Mr. Reilly brought a sense of gravitas to the film as a "pretty serious actor", even as John C. Reilly has made his bread and butter mainly in comedy.  One could sense that Mr. Scott would probably like to attain the status and kind of career that Mr. Reilly now has.  During the conversation Mr. Scott said that he hoped more directors in the film business would take a risk on him as a performer and trust his ability to bring something to the table in a film that would offer a refreshing challenge. 

Comedy is one challenge, and Mr. Scott has appeared in several successful ones, and on "The Promotion" as well as hailing Mr. Reilly, Mr. Scott was impressed by the comedic talents of someone who had never acted before.  Chris Gardner, whose homeless-to-millionaire story was chronicled in "The Pursuit Of Happyness", which Mr. Conrad wrote, makes a cameo appearance in "The Promotion" and has a choice line or two for Mr. Reilly's character.  Mr. Scott said of Mr. Gardner: "The guy doesn't even act and he's fucking funnier than me!" 

With all the praise that Mr. Scott has for "The Promotion" and those who worked on it -- including Mr. Conrad -- whom he saluted for making things work very well on the film set -- something irks him deeply.  "The problem with this movie is that nobody really knows about it.  It's fucking frustrating," he said, adding that he thought "The Promotion" had the makings of a sleeper hit in the mold of "Juno" and "Little Miss Sunshine".  (He spoke of his love for the latter film, mentioning that he hadn't had a chance to see "Juno" yet.) 

Mr. Scott was also dismayed about another satirical film he appeared in, "Southland Tales" (2007), dismayed about much of the critical flak that the film and its director Richard Kelly, who directed the cult smash "Donnie Darko", took.  "This guy worked for three years of his life (on "Southland") and for them to trash him like that -- it was ridiculous," Mr. Scott lamented, pointing to the many dissenting film critics at the Cannes Film Festival a couple of years ago and several other film reviewers.  "I find it really interesting that in the interviews I've done here, 95% of the film reviewers enjoyed "Southland Tales".  Mr. Scott said that he would call Mr. Kelly and relay this information to him, as well as the knowledge that an additional film critic sang its praises.

Mr. Scott also talked about his next film, which is scheduled for release in November or December in the U.S. and Canada, called Role Models", a comedy that he said is a cross between "Wedding Planners" and another film (which this writer has unfortunately not been able to remember the title of.)  Mr. Scott promised that "Role Models" has the makings of a big success.  "Everyone has to look out for this one.  It's really funny," Mr. Scott promised.

To paraphrase a line from "The Godfather Part III", Seann William Scott, seeking a more diverse portfolio of roles, might be inclined to say, "just when I try to get out, comedy pulls me back in."

"The Promotion" is now playing in a number of cities across the U.S. and Canada.  A review appears here tomorrow. 

"The Promotion" website

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