Jason Biggs Interview
Jason Biggs Interview
Jason Biggs, the actor well known for the American Pie movies, talks to View about his career taking a more dramatic turn in his new film Grassroots, based on the true story of an election campaign in 2001 Seattle, how he enjoyed working with his co-stars and director, and how the film gives him a chance to work out some new acting muscles.
How did the project come about, first of all?

Jason Biggs

It came about through the regular sort of agent/audition process. I was in L.A. and my agent read it, was a big fan and a champion of the script and called me and said, 'I think you should throw your hat in the ring on this’ and I read it and I thought it was brilliant. The thing that most immediately struck me was how specific a story it was, set in Seattle, 2001, city council election, true story. But yet how universal the themes were and how broad the stories were.

And I just loved these two characters and their friendship, this sort of bromance they had, the David vs Goliath story. And I also thought it would be different for me, I thought it would be something that could challenge me and I'd get to exercise some different muscles. So I went in and read for Stephen Gyllenhaal, the director, and immediately realised how good a collaboration we would have. And yeah, he cast me, so that was it.
This is an unusually straight role for you. Was that something you were actively looking for?

Jason Biggs

Yes. Yes and no. There hasn't ever really been a specific agenda in terms of, 'Okay, I need to do something different than the American Pie films, I have to find that thing that's different', it's just that I'm always interested in all kinds of movies, including these, but also other American Pie films [laughs] or films like them. So the truth is I just want to do as much as I can and as many different things as I can. That said, it's much more difficult to do these kinds of roles because of how sort of known I am for that one kind of role, so it's incredibly refreshing when someone like Stephen sees in me the ability to have that range and have a more complex side where I can do that and has that faith in me to do it.
Were you aware of the story beforehand?

Jason Biggs

I wasn't, no. I don't think anybody was aware of the story, unless you lived in Seattle. If you lived in Seattle in 2001, you were very aware of this story, but I did not, so I had no idea. It was an unknown. And Stephen knew the book publisher, had a couple of books sent to him, like, 'Hey, these are available for option, if you want' and he read this and it just struck him as such a great, interesting, almost absurd story about these two totally unlikely guys that ran for city council against this incumbent and he thought it would make for a great movie. And I happen to agree.
What kind of research did you do?

Jason Biggs

None. But that's not because of laziness or anything on my part, it's more because Stephen was just so trustworthy. You come in and you start working with Stephen and he just knew exactly what he wanted. He had a history with Phil and with Grant and with this world. And I just had total faith in Stephen and his direction, that there was really no research. And it's not like I was doing an impersonation, it's not like I was portraying a character that is incredibly well known around the world, it's like no-one knows who Phil Campbell is. It's not like I would do the role and people would look at it and would be like, 'That's not Phil Campbell! I do a better Phil Campbell than that!' You know? There was no barometer, I kind of had a clean slate and Stephen allowed us to create our own characters within the template of what the real Phil Campbell was, you know?
Did you even read the book?

Jason Biggs

I did read the book. But I read it while I was filming, so the truth was that I didn't even finish it until I was done filming, so in terms of what I got from it, I got a little bit from it while I was filming, but you know...

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Content updated: 25/04/2019 14:48

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