Without a doubt, every child of the ’90s knows Seann William Scott. After all, as American Pie’s lady-loving lothario, Steve Stifler, the actor endeared himself to millions of teen movie fans. And while Scott’s post-Pie career hasn’t been filled with as many highs, there’s actually a reason for his mysterious absence from our screens.
Like many young stars, Seann William Scott decided on a career in movies very early on in life. And when the time came, the future actor packed his bags, left his home town of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, and moved to Hollywood with the ambition of becoming a star. However, the type of roles he had in mind were quite different to the ones for which he would eventually become famous.
That’s because, even though Scott has since become known for comedic roles, he actually envisioned a more serious career. “I moved to LA to pursue acting because I wanted to do dramas,” he revealed to the Belfast Telegraph in 2012. “I was never the funny guy in school… My hero growing up was Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange.”
And Scott made a promising impression with his debut feature. Indeed, 1997’s Born into Exile, which gave a 20-year-old Scott his first role, received praise for its serious message on teen runaways. Nevertheless, the star’s career – and his life – would take a drastic turn after his next movie hit screens.
Specifically, Scott had landed a part in an upcoming teen comedy originally titled Great Falls – and later renamed American Pie. The film, of course, was a runaway success, grossing $235 million before spawning multiple sequels. And though American Pie also gave actors like Jason Biggs and Tara Reid their big breaks, Scott was arguably its standout star.
Cast as the high school jock Steve Stifler, Scott stole every scene he appeared in. What’s more, he became so popular that in 2003 follow-up American Wedding he was considered the lead. But fame wasn’t sitting well with Scott at all.
Following his breakout role, in fact, Scott found himself recognized for all the wrong reasons. “When the movie came out, [fans] called me [Stifler] and I was flattered,” he told The Huffington Post in 2012. “Then I started thinking, ‘I wonder if they realize that he’s not a real person, that he’s a movie character.’”
Immediately after American Pie’s release, Scott began working to broaden his range with a role in the 2000 horror movie Final Destination. He even had a go at action in 2003’s Bulletproof Monk. However, audiences cried out for more Stifler, and so the actor had almost no choice but to repeat his past success.
Indeed, in 2000 Scott starred in two different comedies that were more than a little reminiscent of American Pie. Road Trip had a similarly sex-themed story arc, while his role in Dude, Where’s My Car? also didn’t stray too far from familiar ground. After just a short spell in the spotlight, Scott had already been typecast.
And so though he was certainly successful at that point, Scott would later bemoan the fact that his career hadn’t gone to plan. “I thought that after doing American Pie I could maybe do American Beauty,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. “Then I did Road Trip, then I did American Pie 2.”
But while Stifler amused audiences in the late ’90s, Scott’s later movies didn’t go on to bring him similar acclaim. The Dukes of Hazzard fared particularly badly with critics, despite being a commercial success. In fact, respected critic Richard Roeper even called it the worst film of the year.
Even Scott was less than impressed with the final product. “I just didn’t think it was going to be that bad,” the actor admitted to The Huffington Post. “We had a great time shooting it but, my goodness, I think some of my family members still won’t talk to me after making that movie.”
Just two years later, moreover, Scott starred in Mr. Woodcock, another critical dud that did his reputation few favors. And while speaking on The Opie & Anthony Show in 2009, Scott recalled just how much these setbacks affected him. “There’s nothing worse than going to a movie set knowing that this could end my career,” he said.
Unfortunately, Scott’s fears would come partly true as after Mr. Woodcock’s release, his subsequent films flopped with audiences. Most notably, 2007’s Southland Tales lost over $16.5 million at the box office. And 2008’s The Promotion did little better, taking just $400,000 domestically despite having been made for approximately $8 million.
But despite some notable failures, Scott was still capable of charming audiences. Indeed, 2011’s Goon was warmly received and earned the actor some of his best reviews since American Pie. Furthermore, Scott’s casting as a humble yet insecure character showed the world that there was more to him than just Stifler.
Nevertheless, even though it seemed like he was turning a corner in his professional life, Scott was still far from saving his career. Unbeknownst to audiences, the actor was grappling with personal demons that would further destabilize him. And these came to a head in 2011 when the star unexpectedly entered rehab.
Though the news shocked fans, Scott declined to reveal exactly why he sought help. In a statement to People, a spokesperson instead said, “Seann William Scott has voluntarily admitted himself for proactive treatment to address his health and personal issues. He appreciates the support of his many fans at this time.”
And after completing rehab 30 days later, Scott returned to play Stifler once again in a fourth American Pie movie. Released in 2012, American Reunion was a hit with audiences and took home $235 million – the same amount as its 1999 predecessor. But this wasn’t enough for a career renaissance, and Scott soon again slipped from public view.
Since 2012, in fact, Scott has kept a pretty low profile both on screen and on the red carpet. In that time, the star has taken one more stab at drama with 2015’s Just Before I Go, in which he plays a man on the brink of suicide. Sadly, though, the film’s measly $10,000 box office return did little to reinvent his image as being a shaky bet for a leading man.
And while Scott currently has a Goon sequel in the works, it seems as if the star will never escape his most famous character’s shadow. What’s more, as Scott glumly admitted to MTV News in 2011, he’s well aware of that fact. “I don’t want to be known as [Stifler] forever,” he said. “Now I realize that I probably will…”