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The Tragic True Life Story Of Seann William Scott

When thinking of endearingly sleazy characters in pop culture, one individual likely comes to mind: Steve Stifler, played by Seann William Scott. The main antagonist of 1999's "American Pie" and its three subsequent films, Stifler is the party-throwing, revenge-seeking, woman-obsessed bully that viewers can't help but root for, despite his blatant arrogance.

From an outsider's perspective, it's easy to assume that, after making a name for himself with such an iconic role, Scott cemented his status as an acclaimed actor. However, this wasn't quite the case. Though he did star in additional hits, such as "Dude, Where's My Car?" and "The Rundown" alongside Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Scott had a hard time distancing himself from the crude humor of Stifler, with certain directors even doubtful that he had more in his wheelhouse.

In addition to struggling to expand his filmography beyond raunchy comedies, Scott endured other obstacles in his personal life, from missing out on a "Baywatch" audition because of a robbery to the loss of his father and the ending of his four-year marriage. Read on for the full tragic true-life story of Seann William Scott.

It took him a while to get his big break in Hollywood

Not everyone achieves instant stardom upon moving out to Los Angeles. This sentiment certainly rang true for Seann William Scott, who arrived in Los Angeles after attending the University of Wisconsin and community college in Glendale, California. During those early years of trying to make it in the industry, the Minnesota-born actor landed a handful of smaller parts, including "Guy in Basketball Jersey" in a Sunny Delight commercial and a one-off appearance in the TV show "Something So Right."

For his first three years in LA, Scott balanced his time between auditions and part-time retail work. While going on auditions and strengthening his acting chops, Scott simultaneously worked a slew of non-entertainment jobs, including as a plumber at Home Depot, a salesperson of glow-in-the-dark stars at Scientific Revolution and a host at California Pizza Kitchen.

"But then I got the script for 'American Pie' and the Stifler part was, like, two scenes long, and I just knew I needed to get a part," Scott said on "The Howard Stern Show." In an effort to ensure success, Scott emulated a Stifler-like bully from his own high school days during the audition. He ended up landing the part that would serve as his big break in Hollywood, and his life was never the same after

He missed out on a Baywatch audition because he was robbed

When Seann William Scott was starting out in LA and trying to land that breakout role that every actor dreams of, he had the coveted opportunity to audition for "Baywatch," the hit beach soap opera of the '90s. However, disaster struck when Scott, who had to travel via public transportation from Glendale, accidentally got off in a not-so-great neighborhood. Scott was robbed of his shirt, shoes and all the money he had on him: $1.35 to get back home.

"I think it was less about what I was wearing, the clothes they wanted, and more about messing with me," Scott said on "The Rich Eisen Show." "It was a bummer though because I was on the way to a 'Baywatch' audition and I was chunky. So when I finally got to the audition, I didn't have my shirt on and it was not ... I didn't get the part. You're supposed to be ripped. The shirt hid it. So when they took the shirt, they took the job."

To make matters even worse, Scott had no choice but to ask people at the "Baywatch" audition for fare to get back to Glendale: "I remember getting home and being like, 'Acting sucks, man. It's so hard.'"

He wasn't paid a lot for American Pie

Before its official release, there was no way to predict just how big of a pop culture phenomenon "American Pie" would become. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the inaugural film raked in $102.5 million domestically and $235 million worldwide at the box office, finally giving Seann William Scott the career break he was working so hard toward.

However, the big bucks weren't flowing in immediately for the film's stars. In fact, Scott was only paid $8,000 for his work as Stifler in the first "American Pie," though, as someone semi-new to the industry, it felt like quite a hefty paycheck at the time. Plus, though he definitely makes a comedic impact as Stifler, Scott doesn't have as much screentime as some of the other cast members of "American Pie," which equated to the low pay. Scott told People, "I think I only worked in the movie for six days. I was only supposed to be in a couple scenes, so they just kept letting me improvise because I just wanted to get myself in as much of the movie as possible."

Still, the $8,000 helped him avoid having to take public transportation — and endure more potential thefts — for future auditions. "I remember afterwards, I bought a used Thunderbird for like, five grand, or maybe six," he said on "The Rich Eisen Show." "I'm like, 'Oh yeah, baby!'"

He still had to work odd jobs after filming American Pie

Once filming wrapped on "American Pie," Seann William Scott continued working odd jobs in order to keep a steady income. The movie had yet to be released in theaters and, even when it did make its debut, there was no guarantee that it would be a money-making hit or lead to future opportunities for Scott. He said in an interview with Conan O'Brien, "I was hopeful. I was like, 'I think this movie's gonna be great.' [But] I don't know if it's gonna get me another movie, so I had to get a job."

It was at this time that one of Scott's friends, an employee at the Los Angeles Zoo, told him how fun it was to work there and feed the animals. Scott was quickly hired at the zoo, but much to his dismay, the experience didn't involve furry friends. Rather, he was the resident "churro guy" in charge of making the doughy treats for guests.

During his second day on the job, Scott was interviewed by Rolling Stone for "American Pie" and asked what he had going on at the moment. Scott shared his new churro gig with the interviewer, who mistakenly thought it was a role in a new movie: "He goes, 'That's interesting, when does that come out?'" Luckily, "American Pie" was an instant box office sensation, and Scott didn't have to whip up churros for too long.

The party-boy role of Stifler typecast him in Hollywood

After years of failed auditions and countless odd jobs to make ends meet, Seann William Scott finally achieved success as an actor when "American Pie" hit theaters and audiences fell in love with the inappropriate antics of Stifler. Still, gaining mass popularity came with some setbacks, a major one being typecast as the high school jock who is always partying and hooking up with girls.

In 2000, Scott was up for the role of Billy Hitchcock, whose death by decapitation is now hailed as one of the best kills in the "Final Destination" franchise. However, director James Wong, who had just seen "American Pie," was hesitant about the idea of the man behind Stifler taking on a much different kind of character. Wong told Yahoo Entertainment, "Billy, this kind of dorky guy, he's not written as handsome as Seann William Scott, so it took a little bit of convincing. But then we met with him and talked with him, and he does have a goofy quality to him, even though he has these leading man looks."

Reflecting on landing the role of Billy, Scott told Yahoo Entertainment that he was just himself during his meeting with Wong, which is a stark contrast from Stifler: "I'm such a dork. It didn't take long," he recalled. "He [Wong] probably spent two minutes with me and was like, 'He's good, he's good. He's a dork. He's definitely a dork. You're hired, buddy.'"

His career has a string of flops

Following the unprecedented success of "American Pie," Seann William Scott never had to hand out churros again. In addition to reprising the fan-favorite role of Stifler in "American Pie 2," "American Wedding" and "American Reunion" — all of which surpassed $200 million globally at the box office despite fans ranking some as worse than others – Scott was part of several other hit flicks, most notably "Dude, Where's My Car?," "Goon" and "The Rundown." 

Still, his career has also been fraught with flops, making it difficult to separate himself from the Stifler persona that the world came to associate him with. For example, his dive into the world of action comedies with 2003's "Bulletproof Monk," which sees Scott's character of Kar partner up with a monk (Chow Yun-Fat) to save the world, didn't go over well with the masses. One critic at Empire magazine simply wrote, "It's painful to watch."

Then there was the 2019 horror-crime film "Bloodline," which follows Evan (Scott), a father and social worker who is plagued by memories of the abuse he suffered as a kid. The Los Angeles Times critiqued, "As a stressed-out high school guidance counselor who helps his students by murdering their abusive relatives, Scott walks a fine line between sympathetic and sinister, in a film that never really finds its purpose."

He's not always recognized by fans

Seann William Scott may have achieved worldwide acclaim as Stifler in "American Pie," but that doesn't mean he's always recognized when out in public. Since the film is riddled with adult-humored content, and remains Scott's biggest claim to fame, children and conservative adults aren't exactly part of the actor's fanbase.

He recalled to Conan O'Brien one instance when a mother and her young daughter on his flight informed Scott that they were his biggest fans. Naturally, he was thrilled ... but only briefly. Scott explained, "All of the sudden, the little girl goes, 'My sister and I voted for you every single time you competed on "American Idol."' She goes, 'I knew you were going to beat David Archuleta.'" Turns out, they thought that Scott was "American Idol" Season 7 winner David Cook. When he shared his true identity and named "American Pie" as his most popular project, the mom denounced the film as filth and became even more disgusted upon learning that Scott played the filthiest character of them all.

In response to a video of the interview on YouTube, many expressed dismay that Scott isn't more widely-known and loved beyond the "American Pie" fandom. @KyleCorwith commented, "I swear, Scott has a similar energy and look that Chris Pratt does. Goes to show, it's also about luck and timing." @user-fx9vq7gf3j said, "Seann is the MAN. He is so undervalued. He can act in dramatic roles and comedic roles."

He's often mistaken for a party guy

Given Stifler's over-the-top personality and wild ways, many have assumed over the years that Seann William Scott is at least somewhat similar to his on-screen persona. However, in an interview with NBC Philadelphia, he revealed that he's nothing like Stifler in real life. "I can easily be the energetic guy when we are doing press, but I am actually kind of an introvert," he said. "I am not like Stifler at all and was never a partier or a girl chaser. I am a quiet, introspective guy, but that's why it's fun to play that wild character." 

Even when fame finally hit and Scott began getting attention from droves of female fans, Scott stayed true to himself. In very un-Stifler-like fashion, he told News.com.au, "I was never really able to take advantage of being an actor because I was always too shy to talk to girls." Scott also claimed in 2003 that he had no interest in other Stifler favorites like alcohol, drugs and pornography.

Additionally, while Stifler is chock-full of humor, that was never the case for Scott. He revealed to NBC Philadelphia, "I wasn't funny, couldn't tell a joke in school and still can't tell a joke to save my life!" Because of this, he never envisioned himself becoming a comedic actor, but instead thought he'd boast a filmography full of dark dramas.

He underwent grief counseling

Prior to the release of 2011's "Goon," which saw Seann William Scott play bouncer-turned-hockey-player Doug Glatt, the actor's entire world was turned upside down when not only his father, but also five other family members, passed away within a two-year span. A self-described "positive and optimistic" person, Scott was anything but either of these after experiencing so many losses in such a short time. In fact, he questioned whether or not he'd ever feel joy again.

At first, Scott thought he could handle things on his own. He said on "Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum," "I always felt like, I don't need to talk to anybody because I know I'm sad. What am I gonna repeat what I know?" However, he eventually realized that he was far from okay, and that he needed to speak to a professional. This decision turned out to be extremely beneficial. "I remember the first meeting with the grief counselor. It was healing, just that one meeting," he said. "So I think it maybe takes, just for somebody who needs some help, that one experience."

For Scott, it was helpful to share his feelings with an individual who had a completely unbiased perspective on his life. Now, he serves as an advocate for therapy, understanding firsthand the benefits and also why someone might feel shame or hesitancy before booking that first appointment. He's helping others realize that, sometimes, they don't have to cope with everything on their own.

He went to rehab for personal issues

In March 2011, also around the time of "Goon," it was announced that Seann William Scott spent 30 days in a treatment facility. No specific reason for his month-long stay was provided by either Scott or his representatives, the latter of whom said in an official statement (via Fox News), "Seann William Scott has voluntarily admitted himself for proactive treatment to address health and personal issues. He appreciates the support of his many fans at this time."

Upon completing the 30-day stint, Scott, who was 34 at the time, was all smiles at a Knicks game in New York City, his first public appearance post-treatment. His reps told TMZ, "He completed the 30 days successfully ... he's doing great." After completion, he geared up a month later to reprise his role of Stifler in "American Reunion," which hit theaters in 2012. While it's possible that Scott's treatment was related to his grief counseling, given the timing of everything, Scott has remained quiet on the subject. 

No matter the reason, it seems as though Scott came out on the other side stronger and happier, which perfectly coincided with Stifler's character growth in the fourth and final "American Pie" installment. In the film, a deeper, more vulnerable side of Stifler is shown, with his friends learning that, underneath the tough exterior, he doesn't actually always feel like the life of the party (though he's never above vengefully defecating in an enemy's cooler).

He and his wife divorced

As a naturally quiet and introverted guy, Seann William Scott has never tried to make headlines regarding his dating life. In 2012, it was known that he was engaged to Victoria's Secret model Lindsay Frimodt, but most details about the relationship, which ended in January 2013, were kept under wraps.

He maintained this same privacy in 2019, when the actor told Us Weekly that he was seeing somebody, but declined to share who. All he said was, "She's a great girl." In September of that year, a source told Us Weekly that Scott tied the knot with this mystery girl in a private ceremony. It was revealed soon after that Scott's new bride was Olivia Korenberg, an interior designer. However, the two separated in October 2023, with Scott filing for divorce in February 2024 because of irreconcilable differences. He also sought joint custody of their daughter Frankie Rose, who they welcomed into the world in June 2020.

Despite this personal blow, Scott should probably be proud of his transformation from his "American Pie" days to today. He achieved success in Hollywood after much trial and error, has a strong support system of fans who can tell him apart from David Cook, took necessary actions for his mental health and, all the while, maintained some semblance of a private life in an industry that's all about publicity.