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The universe must have been listening: keen fans of American Pie, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg could hardly wait to accept the offer to make & bake the final slice – Reunion. By Andrew L. Urban.

By one of those quirks of fate, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg were having dinner a couple of years ago with one of their Harold & Kumar cast members, John Cho, who dropped the news he’d heard on the grapevine that there was talk of a new American Pie movie. Big fans of the movie franchise, both writer/directors were excited to hear it.

A month later their agent called to ask if they were interested in talking to the producers about making it. “We’re like, YES!,” says Jon. “We were immediately excited and had no doubt that we could nail it.” In Sydney to promote the film, the filmmaking duo says they were “very confident and very keen”.

"share a sense of humour and a matching lack of ego"

Friends and collaborators since high school, they share a sense of humour and a matching lack of ego, to enable them to work together and take in turns the various roles from the writing to the directing. 

The writers of all three films in the Harold & Kumar series (and directors of the second one), Hurwitz and Schlossberg were chomping at the bit to re-create the world of American Pie while bringing their trademark stamp to it. Both admit that they have been die-hard fans of the series since their first viewings. They have lost count of how many times they saw the first film when it came out in 1999.

“There were a lot of youth comedies then, but they were all PG-13,” Schlossberg explains in the background briefing notes. “Jon and I always liked more outrageous comedy, and American Pie was the first movie of our generation that had young people acting and talking like young people in a real, risqué sex comedy. That was totally up our alley, and we loved it.

“We went to high school in a similar time as these characters. For a lot of people our age, we feel like this was our high school. What we loved about American Pie is the ensemble. It felt like you knew each and every single one of these people, and we were able to connect with each character in a different way.”

"consumed with relationships and love"

The filmmaking partners believe that the secret to the series’ success is the balance of big, outrageous comedy with relatable moments, all experienced by real characters. Adds Schlossberg: “The first film had a bunch of really dirty things, and yet, while that’s happening, Chris’ and Mena’s characters have a love story. Tara’s character was consumed with her ‘first time’ and waiting until her boyfriend says, ‘I love you.’ That’s what high school is. You have guys obsessed with sex, but then everyone is consumed with relationships and love.”

Because the entire original cast wanted to come back, populating the film was easy. Says Hurwitz: “What’s been exciting about the entire cast is that everyone came here motivated to kick ass. They care about their characters, and it was fun getting input from the actors. We were writing it as fans, and we were writing it as filmmakers. But talking to each of these actors to shape the character and where they are now with them has been amazing.”

Their signature style is to write characters “who may be flawed in some ways, but who are basically good people. The big challenge is to get audiences invested in and caring about your characters for an hour or two.”

Both men admit that the set was filled with unexpected requests. “I can’t tell you how many times we had to pick out women’s underwear,” laughs Hurwitz. “It all becomes old news, like figuring out how to use the lid to the pot that Jason uses to try and hide his penis in a kitchen scene. We went to Jason’s trailer and saw a ‘puppetry of the penis,’ where he was putting his penis in different directions and smashing it with the lid, and we had to decide the right angles for the film.”

"with thumb wars and arm wrestling"

Such tough decisions can break creative duos, but not these two. When asked how they resolve any artistic differences, they talk over each other to explain it’s done “with thumb wars and arm wrestling”.

Published April 1, 2012

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Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg


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