Eddie Kaye Thomas on ‘How to Make It in America’ & ‘American Reunion’

Eddie Kaye Thomas is branching out. The thirty-one year old actor best known as the banger of Stifler’s mom in the American Pie franchise is gravitating to roles that resist the toilet humor he’s become associated with, sort of. He’s currently starring in the MCC Theater’s production of The Submission, a heady drama about race and art. Starting on October 2, he’ll resume his role as the likeable hedge fund blowhard David Kaplan on the second season of HBO’s How to Make It in America.

Still, in spite of the eight years that have lapsed since his appearance in American Wedding, the third official entry in the franchise (a bunch of forgettable straight-to-DVD installments followed), Thomas couldn’t resist returning to familiar territory with American Reunion, to be released early next year. We recently spoke to the actor about his play, reuniting with his American Pie costars, and the new sexed-up season of How to Make It in America.

You must be swamped at the moment. How many things do you currently have on the go? Well, I’m just working on the final touches of a play right now, it premieres in about a week.

That would be The Submission. That would be it. I’ve just been going to the theatre every night at 7 o’clock for two hours and banging it out.

What’s it about? It’s about a young white guy who’s a struggling playwright and writes this play about a black family in the projects. The play does really well and it winds up getting into this big festival, but when he submits it he does so with a fake black name. You can imagine where it goes from there.

Do you prefer stage, TV, or film? They’re all so completely different. This year, I was so lucky to do such different things in a short period of time. I did an independent film, and then How to Make It in America, and American Reunion. You haven’t really played a role like Paul Finch since your early American Pie days. Do you find yourself shying away from that type of character? I wouldn’t say I’ve shied away from that type of Finch role in particular, but I think it’s more so something that fit in only one movie and I’m not sure it would really fit anywhere else. Some actors find it a struggle jumping from role to role so quickly, let alone from screen to live audience. How do you deal with the variance? For me the biggest struggle is that I’m constantly making amazing new friends and forming families, becoming very close with people, and then saying goodbye. But when a job’s done, a job’s done, and you have to start a new thing in your life.

Unless it’s American Pie. That family seems to keep on popping up in your life. Yeah, you could say that. About every two years or so I expect to see them, and then they pop up again. Even with the same people, you know each movie is different. I was really lucky after shooting the movie to jump right into this play immediately. Speaking of American Reunion, how was the dynamic between you guys? It was mostly just fun. We all had an amazing time, and it was just like it always is. It always feels like camp in a way, and we all want to be there Hopefully it will translate again onscreen.

Will this be geared more towards adults? Well, we’re older. There’s not much I can say about this. You’ll definitely see some new things. But yeah, we’re older.

Let’s talk about How to Make It in America. Happy to see you guys got a second season. What should we be expecting from your character? I was so excited that we got the second season too, because it gave us a chance to really find our voice. And I think all shows, even really great shows, take a few seasons to find their stride, and the beauty of TV is it’s allowed to grow and change from season to season. This time around, we really identified that the show surrounds itself around passion, struggles, and people, and the unharnessed energy of those people. I’d be watching this show every week even if I wasn’t it.

I hear there’s some sex and a lot more nudity in it. Yup. We’ve got a lot of beautiful women and sex happening on the screen. You know things that happen in New York are happening on the show. And sex is one of those things.

You grew up in New York, so do you feel like the show does justice to the New York you know? I think it does justice to the New York I’ve come to know very well. And compared to the New York fifteen years ago when I was growing up, it’s just a whole different universe. The city doesn’t stay the same from year to year. The city doesn’t stay the same at all. You’ll even notice there’s a big difference from New York in the first season and the second season. When we shot the show, HBO wanted to wait a while to put it on, and we wanted to wait as long as possible to shoot it, to make sure it was an accurate portrayal of what’s going on in New York. Things change so quickly here. The world that was shot in the show is the world that we were living in.

I remember a couple summers ago, I responded to a craigslist add titled “new HBO show How to Make It in America: looking for brooklyn hipsters” Yeah! There was actually an NYmag post about that too, and that’s a good point. It goes to show they wanted to be as genuine and raw as possible in their casting, so when we’re doing a party scene in Bushwick, we need to see what’s actually going on in Bushwick right now. And when we’re going to Kaplan’s world and going to Avenue, we need authentic, ridiculous, models. I don’t think there’s one universal look to the people on the show, and they do a good job of getting the best people in the city to be on camera.

So, after all this TV show-movie-making-play-promoting business, what do we have to look for in the future for you? Well, I’m living in Brooklyn right now and I’m absolutely loving it. After growing up in Manhattan I love it even more. I went to live out there to see if I would like it, and I wasn’t going to write off Brooklyn before I tried it. Now I’ve tried it, and I really love it.

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