Seth Green

Back to school

In its "Who's Who In Hollywood High" breakdown of America's hottest teen stars, Entertainment Weekly recently dubbed Seth Green one of film's hot "freshmen," along with 18-year-old Elijah Wood and Party Of Five's 16-year-old Lacey Chabert. But at 25, Green has been a steadily employed actor for longer than Chabert has been alive. His first major role, as a young Woody Allen in the 1987 film Radio Days, drew a lot of attention, but the last few years have found Green especially busy: He's a regular on the hit TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, he's Dr. Evil's son in the Austin Powers movies, he's a voice on the new Fox sitcom Family Guy, and he stars in the current horror-comedy Idle Hands. Green recently spoke to The Onion about spring break, teen success stories, and his star-making turn in White Man's Burden.

The Onion: Didn't you just do some spring break thing for MTV?

Seth Green: I did. [Laughs.] It was so ridiculous. My publicist called me and said, "How'd you like to go to Jamaica for a weekend?" And I was like, "Umm... okay." So I literally went for, like, four days. It was so much fun. They gave me a lot of opportunities to write my own dialogue and be very silly and stuff.

O: Yeah, but you're basically hanging around with cretins, aren't you?

SG: Yeah. Why not? It's a perfect opportunity to embarrass drunken, willing spring-breakers. I took every opportunity to, as subtly and quietly as possible, insult the kids. [MTV] gave me a high-powered water gun, and it was so hot out that everybody was like, "Spray me!" So I kept shooting people directly in the face with, like, this high-powered super-soaker. So I got to be like, [adopts announcer voice] "We're gonna take an opportunity to shoot these kids in the face! Who wants to get shot in the face?" And they were all like, "Wahhh!" And I'd shoot 'em in the face, and you'd see their reaction: They're happy that they're on television and getting wet and cooled off, but at the same time, they're like, "Ow!" [Laughs.] So much fun. And to casually, very quietly, insult people in a way that they don't quite recognize... It's fun.

O: Entertainment Weekly recently did a round-up of all the teen stars...

SG: Yeah. While I'm very flattered to be included in that, I really feel that they went through all the films that were coming out, took the actors... Because there are kids who are going to be successful and have a certain amount of longevity, and then there are kids who aren't going to do anything beyond the film they did this year. And as far as the [categories] they attributed to everybody, I really didn't feel like a lot of thought went into that.

O: Well, you were one of "The Freshmen."

SG: Yeah. It's me, Elijah Wood, and Lacey Chabert, and that is the only time you'll ever hear the three of us mentioned in the same sentence. It's just... I'm pleased to be included on what was touted as, like, "The Hot Teen List," but at the same time, I know how silly and with how little thought that article was assembled.

O: You've probably got a little more experience under your belt than, say, [Idle Hands co-star] Jessica Alba.

SG: It's actually so sad to me, because she's so beautiful and sweet and really innocent right now, and she's having an overnight success. She's got good handlers, but nothing can prepare you for the type of success that a beautiful girl receives. Nothing can prepare you for it, and she's doing her best, but it's starting to freak her out.

O: Well, there's a big difference between being a young actor and being a young actress. You never have to pose for a magazine with your breasts...

SG: Well, nobody gives a shit if I do. Let's put it that way. People ask, but that's not sellin' any fuckin' magazines. Sarah Gellar has openly said that she hates that shit, because you can't get a cover without basically posing topless, because there's always some other actress who's willing to do it. And that's fucked up. It's really shitty. It's shitty for the magazines to create this standard—to say, "We've got these people who'll do it, so if you don't do it, you're not on the cover." That's not really fair. I mean, they can make the choice not to take the covers of magazines. It's difficult, but, you know, Leelee Sobieski's not posing topless anywhere, and she's gaining a certain amount of acclaim. I feel there are ways to do it, but it's just a shame that so often this exploitative way is the way that people present first.

O: Well, there should be some sort of gender equality, at least, where stupid teen-girl magazines have you and Matthew Lillard pose topless.

SG: Yeah, well, you get asked to do that shit, but it is within your realm of possibility to deny it. I don't show any of my tattoos in photographs.

O: Do you really have tattoos?

SG: Yeah, but they're for me and no one else, so when people are like, "Ooh! Do this!," I'm like, "No, 'cause you'll see my tattoo and you're not gonna." It's that simple.

O: Is that just because they're personal...

SG: Yeah. It's because it's nobody's business.

O: It's not, like, an image-control thing.

SG: No, I don't... [Laughs.] Are you fuckin' kidding me, man? Have you heard some of the shit I say?

O: Now, you've got Austin Powers, Buffy, Idle Hands, Family Guy...

SG: Yeah. I'm taking a break this summer. There haven't been any projects that struck my fancy. My friends and I are looking to develop stuff to produce, I've got two huge press tours to do for these movies, and Buffy starts back up in, like, two months, so there's nothing I've found that I really want to do right now except to kind of deal with what's going on and relax a bit.

O: So, you're going to be back on Buffy next season.

SG: Uh, sure.

O: You're under contract to do it next season?

SG: Sure. [Laughs.] I'm having a meeting with [Buffy creator and executive producer] Joss Whedon soon, and we'll talk about, you know, the future.

O: But for now, you're planning to come back.

SG: Oh, yeah. There's no plan not to be on; it's just, like, where the character is gonna go, what he's gonna do, how intrinsic I'll be to the day-to-day plot. We're gonna have a conversation. The reason I'm sounding evasive is because it hasn't happened yet and I don't have definitive word for you. And I'm a notorious liar.

O: What was your original role in the Buffy movie? [Green didn't make the final cut. —ed.]

SG: Um, I was a geek vampire with braces, and I kill a guy. I got to meet Paul Reubens, which was very cool.

O: You were the third youth at the hot-dog stand in White Man's Burden. How did you score that part?

SG: [Laughs.] Jason Kristofer, who was third youth at the hot-dog stand #1, shot most of that movie, and when the film needed reshoots, he wasn't available. So I looked enough like him—even though I'm, like, five inches shorter than him and required beard stippling to match his... If you look closely, it's two different people playing the same character. Look closely: He's the other guy with the stocking cap on his head.

O: Have we finally found a flaw in White Man's Burden?

SG: Yeah. I know people have been looking. It's like the Rosetta Stone of film. But, no, I looked enough like this guy; we were represented by the same agency, and I really wanted to meet [producer] Lawrence Bender and John Travolta, and I got to do a scene with Travolta. The director [Desmond Nakano] hated me. Absolutely fuckin' hated me, because he'd written the script and I was trying to make the most out of it. What happens is that John Travolta's there and we start making fun of him, because he's, you know, a bitch boy, and we basically start kicking his ass. And I was going off—they were like, "Just say whatever comes to your mind, like insults"—and I was like, "You're on your ass now, dancy boy!" And I kept saying, "You shouldn't have brought your bitch around here unless you wanted her to get funked," because he's there with Harry Belafonte. I was just saying really, really funny, horrible shit, and the director was like, "Just don't say anything. You don't say anything, all right? You: Don't say anything."