When American Pie came out, everyone in the cast was considered a promising unknown. Who went on to the most lucrative careers?
I was watching American Pie a few days ago and noticed two things. One, that it’s shocking I never made the mental connection in my head between Chris Klein’s Oz character and Finn on Glee — pretty much every aspect of those two is the same, from physical appearance to flushed cheeks to intelligence to much-maligned-jock-to-glee-club transition. And two, how in the 11 years since Pie came out, what wildly divergent paths all of those actors’ careers have taken.
When Pie was made, basically everyone in the cast was an unknown. Some had had parts in other movies, but no one was really a name. (Other than Casey Affleck, who was in Good Will Hunting and basically only had a Pie cameo. Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge had done plenty of work before but were launched to the next level of recognition thanks to this movie.)
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how successful each of the cast members was after the movie. But rather than do it subjectively — thus making this list a referendum on Tara Reid’s life choices — I’d do it as quantitatively as possible. I took each actor’s total U.S. box office numbers and subtracted the gross from the Pie movies they appeared in and any films that came out before American Pie.
Here’s how the team shook out, in order of most to least post-American Pie success.
1 | Seann William Scott (Stifler) – $1,050,813,311 after American Pie
Really the only true huge star to get launched from the bunch. Although the real reason he got to a BILLION in box office was his role in a couple of Ice Age movies. Still, I think it’s to his credit that he’s (1) managed to continue to play Stifler in every single movie he does yet (2) managed not to be constantly shrugged off for playing the same role his whole career. It’s like the opposite of what’s happening with Michael Cera.
2 | Jennifer Coolidge (Stifler’s mom) – $907,921,034 after American Pie
She’s had character actress roles in ton of movies — Click, Legally Blonde, Robots and Lemony Snicket all bump up her numbers; the Christopher Guest movies bump up her comedy street cred. (Which is like real street cred, only with a lot fewer cappings and a lot more pithy observations on men leaving the toilet seat up.)
3 | Eugene Levy (Jim’s dad) – $903,595,974 after American Pie
This doesn’t count his appearances in the many, many straight-to-DVD American Pie movies, since none made any box office. He’s been in all of them. He’s really been in more mediocre straight-to-DVD faux-sequels than Timon and Pumbaa.
4 | John Cho (MILF Guy) – $799,344,008 after American Pie
He had a bit part in all three Pie movies (most famously as the guy who brought the term “MILF” into pop culture) — and went on to bigger things than pretty much anyone else in the cast. But… the two Harold and Kumar movies combined didn’t come close to making as much money as Star Trek. Good thing got the role over all of the other Asian guys who Hollywood is elevating right now. Like… uh… shit.
5 | Casey Affleck (Kevin’s brother) – $482,468,900 after American Pie
His box office number comes on the strength of the Oceans movies, 11 through 13. He hasn’t had a film in years, after devoting his life to making that mockumentary about Joaquin Phoenix trying to reboot ZZ Top.
6 | Natasha Lyonne (Jessica) – $324,024,570 after American Pie
This one was probably most surprising to me. It turns out she was in Scary Movie 2, did a voice in Robots, and had parts in moderate successes like Blade: Trinity and Kate and Leopold. All that added up to put her in the top half of the cast. And yet… I’d guess that even with the picture I put up, half the people reading this list don’t remember her fairly sizable part in Pie.
7 | Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia) – $293,182,226 after American Pie
After Pie came out, it looked like Shannon Elizabeth was going to blow up — even if she did have to cash in her nude card to get there. (It was the rarely seen “iconic nude scene leads to fame” route. The far, far more common path is “sputtering fame leads to nude scene.”) But even though she got permanent name recognition, a monster film career didn’t really follow… other than Scary Movie she didn’t have any movies that even cleared $42 million.
8 | Mena Suvari (Heather) – $278,228,102 after American Pie
American Beauty came out a couple of months after American Pie… so even though her Pie role didn’t lead to her getting that major part, its total is still added to her list. And also lands HER squarely in the “iconic nude scene leads to fame” bucket. Maybe it is more common than I thought.
9 | Jason Biggs (Jim) – $223,548,552 after American Pie
Nine spots in and finally, we get one of the guys who were part of the four-guy core Pie friend crew. He’s been able to get movies since Pie… but none that really made any kind of big money. One starred Dane Cook though, so that’s cool.
10 | Chris Klein (Oz) – $163,529,333 after American Pie
If only the Rollerball remake had done better. Not only would it have launched Chris Klein to bigger and better things, it really could’ve launched roller derby again. And man do I love watching some good roller derby. The rules make no sense, you can’t tell if it’s fixed, the women’s version is actually more entertaining than the men’s — if you ever can watch videos of the old ’80s roller derby, do it.
11 | Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch) – $107,424,307 after American Pie
Unlike John Cho, if it wasn’t for the Harold and Kumar movies he wouldn’t be this high. (On the list. That wasn’t a reference to the Harold and Kumar movies being about marijuana. I don’t like to burn out my sparkling wordplay on marijuana jokes.)
And the ones that just missed the cut…
Chris Owen (Shermanator) – $100,687,576 after American Pie
Tara Reid (Vicky) – $74,528,962 after American Pie
Alyson Hannigan (Michelle) – $70,348,078 after American Pie, although she’s had two hit TV shows
Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin) – $71,637,963 after American Pie (But $71 million before it, mostly on the strength of Rookie of the Year)