You could hardly call Jason Biggs's appearance in a new revival of Boys' Life, Howard Korder's 1988 proto-LaButean play about a trio of near-30 men stuck in adolescence, a great leap. Not only has he, you know, played an oversexed emotional wreck once or twice or twenty times, he's also had some notable theater runs, including The Graduate, opposite Kathleen Turner, and his debut, at 13, as Judd Hirsch's son in Conversations With My Father. He talked to us about his hero Ben Stiller, the plague of onstage boy nudity, and the joys of typecasting.
So, what brings you over here from Hollywood, your new wife in tow?
I think the role is really a lot of fun. You've got broader comedic moments and you've got your serious stuff as well. For me, it was a great balance. And then I get to come and do an interview with New York Magazine. That was the real catalyst.
You also got to do some of that old-time sexual slapstick. But there's a really dark undertow.
I'd like to believe that we can do this slapstick kind of stuff, but as long as the emotion is there and the relationships are real, it's gonna be fine. To use American Pie as the example, there's some pretty outlandish stuff in there, and yet the reason the movie works is because you have these characters that are grounded in reality.
Since you brought it up, do you have any regrets about fucking a pie, and where that's taken your career?
No, no regrets at all. It's done wonderful things for me, I mean it's opened up so many windows. Not doors, windows.
But you're still playing the same character, just ten years older.
First of all, just let me say this. I'm just happy to be working. So if I have to play the same role for the rest of my life, but it means I get to act for the rest of my life, I'll fucking do it. And listen, I love doing comedy. And this is my style of comedy.
And yet you still haven't gotten fully naked. One of your castmates does, and Daniel Radcliffe is doing it a few blocks away. Do you feel left out of the action?
I don't feel badly that I didn't get naked in the show, but I know my audience does. I know the fans out there are disappointed that I'm not making my full-front debut. No, I'd be a little apprehensive. I've done pretty ridiculous things before. I've shown parts of my body, I've done things to things, and my philosophy has always been, if it's in the right context, if it makes sense for the character, I'll do anything.
You're not Jewish. Why are you always playing Jews?
Well, there's certainly some physical attributes that contribute to the casting. There's a bit of the neuroses and pathos, and just a kind of mannerism. All my friends are Jewish, my wife is Jewish — hell, I even stepped on a glass at my wedding. It's not out of the question that my mother may have had an affair with a rabbi.
People talk about Judd Apatow as if his filthy-vulnerable comedies came out of nowhere, but didn't American Pie make it possible? Aren't you kind of a homo erectus on the evolutionary path from John Belushi to Michael Cera?
Apatow really is nailing it. I think part of it has to do with the leading men that he's choosing really well — the outcast, the nerdy underdog. But I think of Ben Stiller. He's kind of the current godfather of the outcasty leading man. I'm too modest to say I'm part of that evolution, but I suppose I am.
Still, there's something a little masochistic about these roles, isn't there?
But that's why I think the Ben Stillers of the world are so successful — because they don't care. If the audience can really tap into that total exposure, if they just totally expose themselves and have no qualms, the payoff is going to be that much bigger.