Starring a cast of mostly unknowns, and reviving the raunchy teen comedy genre that had been dead and buried for more than a decade, no one knew what to expect of American Pie when it debuted back in the summer of 1999. But after earning $235 million dollars, spawning eight sequels, and creating one of the most famous pie-based sex scenes in movie history, it’s legendary status is secure. At the time, the film launched a slew of unknown actors into the stratosphere. Some have come back down to Earth hard, while others are just getting started. Much like band camp, let’s look back at the fun we had, and then see where the cast is now.
Jason Biggs (Jim Levenstein)
Then: Like much of the cast, Jason Biggs was a fresh face when he landed the lead role in American Pie. His previous credits were scant, with a stint on the daytime soap As The World Turns and a Broadway turn opposite Judd Hirsch in Conversations with My Father being the highlights.
Now: While still largely known for his work in the American Pie series, Biggs has had success on the small screen of late. His turn as convict Piper Chapman’s estranged husband Larry on Orange is the New Black got some attention, and kids may recognize his voice as Leonardo on the animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But he’s sadly gotten the most attention for being a Twitter troll, making fun of everything from racial issues, to dead celebrities, to the Malaysian plane crash. It has not gone over well.
Chris Klein (Chris “Oz” Ostreicher)
Then: Another unknown at the time, Chris Klein broke out big in 1999, staring in blockbuster American Pie and indie darling Election. It was actually the latter that he shot first, after director Alexander Payne discovered him in the halls of his high school while location scouting for the movie.
Now: Klein has had an admittedly tough go of it since the American Pie films ran their course. Beyond losing girlfriend Katie Holmes to Tom Cruise, he also battled alcohol issues and checked himself into rehab back in 2010. He’s since been working on a comeback, popping up on FX’s Wilfred and Comedy Central’s Idiotsitter.
Alyson Hannigan (Michelle Flaherty)
Then: Hannigan, a former child actor, was making a name for herself as nerdy best friend Willow on Buffy The Vampire Slayer when American Pie came knocking. The filmmakers originally wanted her to play the part of Heather, which would go to Mena Suvari, but Hannigan thought band camp loving Michelle seemed like more fun.
Now: With seven seasons of Buffy, four American Pie movies, and nine seasons on How I Met Your Mother, Hannigan has had one of the best runs of any Pie alum. Now raising a family, she’s slowed down a bit, with her most recent part being a cameo on the CBS sitcom The McCarthys.
Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia)
Then: Elizabeth began her career as a model, before booking small parts on TV shows like Arli$$ and USA High. She was perhaps best known for getting offed by a snowman in the direct-to-video horror cheesefest Jack Frost before her big break in American Pie came about.
Now: Elizabeth had a bit of a hot streak after American Pie, booking big parts in movies like Scary Movie, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Thir13en Ghosts. While she’s continued to work steadily, more recent projects like In The Dark and A Green Story haven’t gotten as much traction. But the good news is, with a bit more time on her hands, she began a second career as a professional poker player, and has kicked butt, landing in the money at the World Series of Poker.
Tara Reid (Vicky Lathum)
Then: A child actor best known for a litany of commercials, Reid had costarred in movies as diverse as Urban Legend and The Big Lebowski when she signed on to play Vicky in American Pie.
Now: Reid seemed to be on her way to becoming a big star when a wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet turned her into a walking punchline. In the years since, she’s worked to rebuild her career, starring in camp classics like the Sharknado films and The Hungover Games.
Eddie Kaye Thomas (Paul Finch)
Then: A child actor who’d appeared on Broadway opposite Natalie Portman in The Diary of Anne Frank, Kaye Thomas only had a few small parts to his name when he landed the role of cougar hunter Paul Finch in American Pie.
Now: After the breakout hit of American Pie, Kaye started acting in a slew of movies, even landing the title role in Freddy Got Fingered. In more recent years, he’s probably best known for voicing Barry Robinson on the Seth MacFarlane animated series American Dad!, and popping up in shows like ‘Til Death and How to Make It in America. These days, he can be found starring on the CBS drama Scorpion.
Seann William Scott (Steve Stifler)
Then: Stifler, the party bro who loves beer and babes in equal measure, was Scott’s big screen debut. Conceived more as a bit part than a costar at the time, Scott was paid only $8,000 for his time. Thankfully, the role would turn Scott into a breakout star.
Now: Scott went on to star in a succession of hits, including Final Destination, Dude, Where’s My Car? and The Rundown. But his new lifestyle would catch up with him, and he entered rehab in 2011 for “health and personal issues.” Since completing his treatment, he’s slowly made his way back into the fold, starring in the hockey comedy Goon and a classic episode of the FX hit It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Mena Suvari (Heather)
Then: 1999 was a big year for Suvari. After working sporadically for years as a child actor, she broke into the big time with the one/two punch of American Pie and American Beauty. This all-American year helped turn her into a star and sex symbol galore.
Now: While Suvari has worked steadily since her breakout year, popping up in everything from Six Feet Under to American Horror Story, she’s never again been the center of attention. In recent years she’s starred on the WE tv horror drama South of Hell, and focused on her charity work, with such organizations as Starlight Children’s Foundation and the “End Violence Against Women” campaign.
Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin Myers)
Then: Thomas Ian Nicholas was arguably the biggest star amongst the teens cast in American Pie. You probably remember him as the titular kid(s) in A Kid in King Arthur’s Court and Rookie of the Year.
Now: Ian Nicholas has worked steadily over the last 20 years, playing Abbie Hoffman in The Chicago 8 and guest starring on hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Party of Five. Still, his real focus seems to be music. He released his first album, Without Warning, in 2008, and even got a song on the American Reunion soundtrack. He has since recorded with Blues Traveler and sung the national anthem at a Cubs game.
Natasha Lyonne (Jessica)
Then: The other legit star of the American Pie teens, Lyonne had already fronted Slums of Beverly Hills and had a role in Woody Allen’s Everybody Says I Love You. She was also popular for playing Opal on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
Now: A serious drug addiction almost sidelined her career, but thankfully Natasha got clean, and returned to acting full-time. Since sobering up, she’s had an impressive resurgence, starring alongside Pie vet Jason Biggs on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, and recurring on IFC’s Portlandia.
John Cho (John)
Then: Cho had just a few small, bit parts to his name when he was cast in American Pie. While this was another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role, the movie was such a massive hit, even the small parts led to stardom. In a Reddit AMA, Cho said “I was out of the country, shooting another movie, and had missed the release of American Pie, and was unaware it was a really big hit. So I came back to America, and kids were chanting ‘MILF! MILF!’ at me on the street. And I was really confused, and it took me a while to understand what was happening actually.”
Now: Cho has since become a big star, fronting the Harold and Kumar franchise, and playing Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek films. He’s also been named one of the sexiest men alive by People magazine not once, but twice, boldly going where no American Pie cast member had gone before.
Chris Owen (The Sherminator)
Then: Owen had booked a few small parts in the years preceding American Pie. Most notably, he had a bit part opposite longtime friend and collaborator Charlie Talbert in the family film Angus. Still, it was “The Sherminator” that would come to define his career, for better or worse.
Now: While Owen hasn’t struggled for work, his association with the American Pie franchise has defined his career. He popped up in a number of similarly raunchy National Lampoon movies, including National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers and National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze 1 and 2.
Eugene Levy (Jim’s Dad)
Then: Levy was already hugely popular in comedy circles, having starring on SCTV, and popped up in classic movies like Splash, Armed and Dangerous and Waiting for Guffman. But it was the part of Jim’s Dad that would prove to be a mainstream breakthrough for the comic with the caterpillar eyebrows.
Now: Levy has continued his hall-of-fame career over the last two decades, continuing to star in Christopher Guest directed classics like A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration. He’s also proved to be a loyal American Pie costar, appearing alongside Tara Reid in Josie and the Pussycats and Sean William Scott in Goon. And god love him, he’s appeared as Jim’s dad (aka Noah Levenstein) in every American Pie sequel, including four straight-to-video releases.
Jennifer Coolidge (Stifler’s Mom)
Then: Coolidge was an alum of the legendary comedy school The Groundlings, but she had struggled to book a breakout part when American Pie came around. She was perhaps best known as the masseuse Jerry dated on an episode of Seinfeld, when she landed the part of Stifler’s randy mother.
Now: Playing the hottest mom in film since The Graduate launched Coolidge to another level. She went on to costar in everything from Legally Blonde to Sex in the City, and starred in a run of Christopher Guest’s improv mockumentaries, like Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration, alongside Pie vet Eugene Levy. Lately, she has been a regular on the long running CBS hit 2 Broke Girls.