Combustible Celluloid

An Interview with Seth Green

Keeping out of the Rat Race

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Redheaded actor Seth Green stands just over five feet tall, but he makes up for it with his giant-size warmth and sense of humor. Green has appeared in four major films this year, Josie and the Pussycats, America's Sweethearts, the upcoming Knockaround Guys, and the new Rat Race.

He's best known for playing Dr. Evil's son Scott in both Austin Powers films and for playing the werewolf Oz on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He began his career at age six on stage and made his first film at age nine. His first big break came as the young Woody Allen character in Radio Days (1987).

Combustible Celluloid: What do you remember of working with Woody Allen on Radio Days at age twelve?

Seth Green: I remember some of it so clearly and other things I just have no recollection at all. There were no, like, morsels of brilliance [from Woody]. The first thing he did really early on, like the first day I was there I went and shook his hand. I was like, 'I'm really excited to be doing this movie.' And he kinda looked at his hand after he shook and wiped it on his shirt (laughs). He just made a point, made it really clear to me not to act like this is such a big deal. Made me feel very comfortable. Wouldn't let me act like, 'oh this is the greatest opportunity of my life.' He just wanted me to be normal. That's my interpretation, anyway. Who knows? We never discussed it. It's that no news is good news theory. He didn't tell me to change it, so I must have done itŠ He will tell you to change it if he doesn't like it.

CC: My favorite scene in your new film Rat Race is you and Vince Vieluf trying to get out of the car before the monster truck lands on it.

SG: Jerry just had this idea to do it in super slow motion, drop out all the sound. It would just be really funny. He told us when we did it that we had this much time to do it and to kind of over-exaggerate. And Vince and I were just, 'What could we be doing? How could we be holding each other up? How could we be making it difficult?' And he was like, 'I don't give a s--- about you, I'm getting out of the car!' And that's the way we played it. We wound up fumbling one another instead of aiding one another. They shot the monster truck later and stuck it in later. 'Cause that's not the kind of scene you get to do twice if you mess it up! We did some seriously dangerous things, but nothing that risky. We did like 90 percent of the stunt work. You can see it. There's only a couple things that aren't us, like the guy dropping from the rope into the water. I didn't do that. But then we were in the water. Vince on the hood of the car, me running in front of the car, us getting pulled, us getting dropped, us getting smacked into stuff. That's us! It's not CGI'd, it's not green screen. We were terrified.

CC: Can you talk about your girlfriend at all?

SG: Well, as much as I'll talk about her. It's a shame because she's suffered for being my girlfriend. She's an actress; she does independent film. And she gets qualified being the up and coming girlfriend of Seth Green, and it's so dismissive. I like to do my best to make sure that she's taken at her own word and not identified under me. 'Cause it's so demeaning, really. (Laughs.)

CC: I can respect that. What about the movie's big finale with the Bay Area's own Smash Mouth?

SG: Those guys were awesome! You hear certain bands, and you're like, 'yeah, I know their songs and sure, I think they're fine.' But when you get to meet them and hang out with them, it's like 'you guys are cool!' And that's what we did. We had four or five days of shooting concert stuff and on the stage stuff. And all those guys were really nice. And all the instruments were set up. And in-between we'd just jam until the Assistant Director would shut us down.

CC: You play guitar, don't you?

SG: Pfft. No! I can't play guitar. I can really fake it. I can almost play the drum. I've discovered that I'm an adequate percussionist because it doesn't demand any specific skill. You just need to be able to put sounds together. So I was rocking the percussion kit! Everybody did. Breckin played the guitar. Everybody was rapping. Vince sang. Vince has a melodious voice. We had a good time!

CC: I read that you've recently gone through a big change, realizing that you were getting caught up in all the Hollywood game-playing.

SG: It wasn't like I became a bad person, it's just so easy to get caught up... things I was doing to express myself became like an anticipated signature. So instead of dyeing my hair because I want to, or me being funny cause I'm in the moment coming up with something off the cuff, it's like I was working for it. What can I do to be funny, to get people's attention? And I just saw myself doing that and I thought, 'eww.' And I just took stock of that and checked myself and tried to get a little bit clearer in terms of just being normal. This is such an unrealistic environment to be in: people asking you questions, people yelling at you to have your picture taken, people coming up to you on the street and wanting you to sign stuff. You just have to do what you can to be normal, to lead a normal life. It was the beginning of a big revelation. I just changed my mind, got my priorities in order. I just got more interested in living my life and separating it. This is my job and it's my passion, and I love it, but my entire life doesn't have to be consumed by the industry. I don't have to read every magazine and know what everybody's deal is and check out all the opening grosses, and be so completely immersed in it that I can't have a conversation about spiritual values, or stem cell research! (Laughs). And not just qualifiable sound bites that are appealing at a cocktail party! You need to have things that you stand for.

Date: Aug. 10, 2001

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