Not another teen interview

by Steven Snyder

24 years old. Iowa native. Pre-med senior.

The description of any number of U students? Yes, but for Eric Christian Olsen, star of Not Another Teen Movie, they are also the characteristics of a most unique rising film star.

He has been acting for only a few years, but his credentials are impressive. He moved from Iowa to California, attending Pepperdine University on an academic scholarship. Needing additional income, he pursued commercial parts. From his success there he was able to get a foot in the door at a prominent agency and went on to appear in an ABC pilot.

His performance garnered opportunities on E.R., the series Get Real, a part in Pearl Harbor and now as the “cocky blonde guy” in Not Another Teen Movie, opening today.

“I’ve been really lucky,” said Olsen. “I’ve been at the right place at the right time.”

Sitting at the Grand Hotel in Minneapolis over lunch, it was obvious that Olsen’s success has not only been due to “luck.” There was something refreshing about his candid outlook on life, art and his profession that projected not only a level of confidence, but an overall drive to succeed.

“I don’t hang out with actors very much,” he said, and it showed in a lack of arrogance and ego that define the star stereotype. In fact, he decried those peers that let stardom get to their head, claiming many engage in a “disconnected disrespect. It’s strange about this business: The more successful you get, the more detached you become”

In contrast, Olsen has tried to actively use his acting success to learn more about the craft of film. Working on Pearl Harbor, he took the time to shadow the director of photography and learn the importance of creating a shot.

In his prominent role in Not Another Teen Movie, he enjoyed the spontaneity and camaraderie of a closely-knit ensemble.

“The cast right now is unbelievable because they’re not hired because they’re names. They’re hired because they’re good. Everyday we went to work, we were shooting sixteen hour days, but were still having fun.”

And through it all, Olsen has continued to strive for loftier heights. He noted the likes of Billy Crudup, Joaquin Phoenix, Giovanni Ribisi and Natalie Portman as the best of his generation. He has taken the initiative of creating a production company, Cloud Nine Productions. He continues to find the balance of school and life “a necessity. I loved the fact that when I was on the set, I was doing my lines and reading literature and studying biology. I love the balance.”

And, through this balance, he has written a screenplay, completing 60 pages in one night, that is now going through re-writes on its way to becoming a feature.

“Read endlessly,” Olsen advised aspiring actors, “Do everything possible you can. If you have a Friday afternoon off, get off your ass! Don’t turn on the damn TV. Go to the library or take your friends out and go have a conversation about Paradise Lost. I really think the best way to hone (your skills) is to live as much of life as you can and by living that life, to understand perspective. Bring that perspective to what you do, whether it be to write a script or act in film.”

As Olsen continues to look towards the future, he also maintains a realistic perspective of his current endeavors.

Not Another Teen Movie is not going to change the world. It’s a comedy. It will make you laugh, and laughter is something that’s really needed right now.”