Exclusive Interview : Eric Christian Olsen

It was 2001 when Eric Christian Olsen burst onto the scene as cocky Jock ‘Austin’ in Not Another Teen Movie. Eight years Later, he’s still in High school.

“I know. Its crazy right?” says the 31-year-old actor, again starring as a teenager in the new comedy “Fired Up“. “Wow, was Not Another Teen Movie really that long ago?! God, I guess it was!”

Since Teen Movie, Olsen’s been playing adults (“I was a 30 year old in The Last Kiss, and more recently, played a dad with an eight-year-old in Eagle Eye“) so it came as quite a surprise when director Will Gluck, who he’d worked with on a short-lived TV series (The Loop), asked him to play a 16-year-old in a movie about cheerleaders.

“Will called and said ‘We’re looking for an actor that’s basically Vince Vaughn in High school’. They were having trouble finding someone and hoped I might have some suggestions. They’d apparently auditioned and auditioned but had no luck.

“And then, Will says, ‘Wait. How old can you play? Have a shave and get down here’”, laughs Olsen. “I was like ‘Dude, I’m not playing a kid in high school again!’ But I had a shave and went down and did the audition anyway. I did a scene with Nick [D'Agosto] and it worked great.”

Olsen says he’s a big fan of Gluck’s writing, so it didn’t take much time to convince him to do the movie.

“I just love his writing. He is so talented”, Olsen, who played Sully Sullivan on Gluck’s The Loop, says. “What I do is, when I get a script I rip the front cover off so I don’t know who the studio is, what the budget is, or who the director is – and I did it this time too. I just wanted to read it not knowing Gluck wrote it and to see whether it still worked for me. And it was great – the banter, the wit, and the character were all there; it was wonderful”.

In the film, Olsen and Nicholas D’Agosto play two horny teenagers who sign up to be cheerleaders in order to meet girls. They then go off to Cheerleading camp where both boys proceed to, of course, chase skirt.

In Nick’s (Olsen) case, he has a penchant for “older” women.

‘’Right, right. A woman who’s supposed to be like 30″ he laughs. “Believe me, I did that as tongue in cheek as I could”.

Another joke that works better because of Olsen’s presence in the film involves an older character who is clearly ‘ancient’ because he listens to 90s music. “You mean Chumbawamba guy?” asks Olsen, continuing “Yeah? What’s funny is I was already half-way through college when that song came out”.

It wasn’t all fun, games and pretending to be a teenager-when-you’re-not on the set of Fired Up – Olsen says he had to actually learn some of those cheerleading moves for real.

“When they told us about what we’d have to do for the movie they said ‘It’ll be like going to football camp again’. Thing is, I was only at football camp for a day and we had to go to cheerleading camp for two-and-a-half-weeks. I got more injured in my time at cheer camp than my eleven years playing hockey.”

Unlike the cheer camp depicted in the film, there was no tomfoolery going on at the one Olsen and co-star D’Agosto attended.

“I wish!” Olsen, whose character manages to score with about a dozen ladies at camp in the film, jokes. “Those girls are pro’s, man. They travel the world for a living for competitions. We were the rookies. We came there and had no idea what we were doing. They had to put up with us – I mean, for six hours-a-day we were throwing these women in the air and catching them”.

Co-star Sarah Roemer, remembered for her role in Disturbia opposite Shia LaBeouf, here playing D’Agosto’s romantic interest and head cheerleader Carly, also had her work cut out for her.

“She definitely had her work cut out for her. The girls have to be thrown up in the air all the time. She had a couple of big falls. One time I remember Nick and I had to throw her up and she started rotating to the left and literally landed on his face”.

Needless to say D’Agosto didn’t complain.

“She’s a stone-cold fox”, adds Olsen. “She’s great to work with, but also funny, quirky – and obviously stunning”.

Cheerleading movies are quite popular – a lot of films don’t get released down under, but these ones always manage to get through. Olsen believes it’s because the movies have a “universal” theme.

“It’s because there’s cheerleaders everywhere. I mean, the first Bring it On made like a 100 million dollars. When we were doing press for this film [in the states] we started receiving tapes of girls cheerleading all-over-the-world; it’s a huge demographic.”

“I’m the first to say though that I don’t think this is a cheerleading movie though – what it is ‘Wedding Crashers without the Wedding’.”

It probably goes without saying that Olsen, who has also appeared in the films Dumb and Dumberer : When Harry Met Lloyd and Beerfest, knows and loves his comedies. Professionally though, he tries to shake it up.

“I try and do my best at balancing and showing as much diversity as possible. After Fired Up, I wanted to do three romantic comedies in a row – so I did that. But I love doing comedies, I think there’s nothing great than laughing for a couple of hours a day”.

Olsen’s next films – the above-mentioned romantic comedies – feature such top-name co-stars as Tim Allen and Jennifer Lopez.

The Allen film is called The Six Wives of Henry Lefay. “It’s me and Elisha Cuthbert, and Tim Allen plays her dad. And also in it are Andie MacDowell, Paz Vega, and Jenna Elfman”.

“And then I’m doing Plan B with JLo – which I only just found out about a week ago. It’s filming in L.A and New York”.

Olsen has also just finished filming a pilot for ABC. “It’s a romantic comedy with Allysa Milano. It’s really funny; we’re hoping it gets picked up”.

It must be hard being surrounded by beautiful women all the time?

“My god, I don’t know how I got it so good!” laughs Olsen, whose first acting job was in a Whitey’s ice cream parlour TV commercial.. “I can’t complain, it’s a pretty sweet deal.”

Meantime, Olsen’s just happy to be back in school.

And the advantage of getting to play a high schooler over and over again? “I’ve been able to take my SATs on screen so many times that I now get a perfect 1600″.

FIRED UP commences Thursday   Visit the Official “Fired Up” Website

- CLINT MORRIS