Originally created 09/29/03

Seann William Scott: the reluctant gross-out wisecracker



LOS ANGELES -- Seann William Scott's sinister smirk suggests the extra N in his name stands for "nefarious."

Still, the heartthrob comic and co-star of "The Rundown" possesses the ability to meld crass behavior with charm.

In August the single 26-year-old was on the cover of Teen People magazine, bare-chested and flexing to make young girls swoon - while making them gag in "American Wedding" by eating a piece of dog poo disguised as a chocolate truffle.

During his three turns as the colossal jerk Stifler in the "American Pie" movies, Scott has ingested or been doused with all manner of bodily fluids. But that didn't stop the array of adoring Web sites set up by worshipful fans.

How does he command both pinup and gross-out status?

Scott says it's simple: Humility - by way of humiliation.

"I never really played the cool guy. I always play the guy who thinks he's cool," he said. "They are guys who come off confident but then fall on their [filtered word]. There's something kind of endearing about it."

In his latest film, "The Rundown," Scott again plays a scheming young man, this one searching for lost treasure, who gets his comeuppance by being clobbered around a jungle by The Rock.

"I gotta be completely honest with you. I took the role so I could throw some punches at Seann William Scott," The Rock cracked.

Joking aside, he said that people would be surprised by how different Scott is from the loudmouth wisecrackers he plays. "He's a quiet guy," The Rock said.

Scott's other notable roles were as the dimwitted Chester in "Dude, Where's My Car?" and the lecherous E.L. in "Road Trip."

"All these characters are nothing like the guy that I am, which is fun because I get to play a kind of a goof-off or an idiot or more of a devious character," he said. "I haven't had a chance to play anyone close to what I want to do."

The youngest of seven children, Scott left his home outside St. Paul, Minn., to become a dramatic actor in Los Angeles.

"I wasn't a funny kid," he said. "I was jealous of the funny kids - they'd always get the girl. And I can't tell a joke, but I'm OK to take a risk and make a fool out of myself."

After a handful of bit parts, he got his big break in 1999 as Stifler. That opened a lot of doors - but they all led to doofus parts.

"I was always a pretty focused, levelheaded kid in high school. I was good at playing sports and good at academics," he said, adding that no one is more shocked at his on-screen behavior than his siblings. "It's so strange for them because the characters I play are so far from the brother that they know."

He turned to childhood thugs, jokers and nitwits for guidance when he auditioned for Stifler.

"I literally pulled out a yearbook the day before, and looked at four guys. One guy I thought was a big (jerk) and I hated everything he did, but there was something funny about him," Scott said. "There was the way one guy would smile, the way another would walk. I just stole things from those kids. I literally called them up the day before the audition, though it had been three or four years since I talked to them."

Stifler provided Scott with a career momentum, but the actor is hoping to shift toward roles with "more depth."

He doesn't have to gobble any effluent in "The Rundown," which is a step forward. The character also gets to display some courage and a little honor, which is also new.

Meanwhile, he's developing an English language remake of the 2001 French film "Gregoire Moulin vs. Humanity," a comedy about an unlucky man who has a very, very bad day.

He says fans should forget about him doing a fourth "American Pie."

"I'm not even a big fan of gross-out comedy," he said. "I think we've seen everything we can do, and it's lost its pizazz. There's nothing left to eat or see these characters do anymore."

And what IS with that extra N in his name?

"That's how my mom named me," he said. "I thought everybody was named the same way. Then I moved out here and everyone was like, 'Dude, what's wrong with your name?"'