Not since Sean Penn played the surfer/stoner dude Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982) had a relatively unknown actor stolen a teen movie as effortlessly as Christopher Mintz-Plasse did in...
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Born Christopher Charles Mintz-Plasse on June 20, 1989 in Los Angeles, CA, the future star grew up in the San Fernando Valley and attended El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills. Although far from the epicenter of Hollywood, Chris' school had produced several notable actors, including Brad Garrett of the long-running series "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005), Christopher Knight of "The Brady Bunch" (ABC, 1969-1974) fame, and America Ferrera, the breakout star of "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-present). Mintz-Plasse liked to act from an early age, appearing in plays and taking acting classes. Despite being a class cut-up and a member of the improv comedy group Comedy Sportz, he never thought it would lead to anything. Then one day two of his buddies heard about a feature film audition for the role of "nerdy high school senior who looks like he's 13 years old." Figuring he could play that guy - that he was, in fact, that guy - decided to throw caution to the wind and try out for the part.
After being the last actor to audition for the part of Fogell, Mintz-Plasse impressed the casting director immediately, who asked him back to read for the director, writers and producers. Although Mintz-Plasse had no professional experience, he was comfortable doing improv. It was also the newcomer's naturalism which especially impressed producer Apatow, whose feature comedy hit "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005) happened to be one of Chris' favorite movies, and, itself, made an overnight star of lead, Steve Carell. After one reading, Apatow knew he had his Fogell. And when Mintz-Plasse shifted seamlessly from Fogell into the character portrayed on Fogell's fake I.D., Apatow knew he had his McLovin, too.
Although he was forced to suffer through two weeks of waiting on pins and needles, Mintz-Plasse finally learned that he got the part, beating out some 500 other hopefuls. He also learned that Apatow was in the producer's chair this time around, with Greg Mottola directing a script by Evan Goldberg and actor Seth Rogen, based on their own misadventures trying to procure alcohol for a high school graduation party. Along with co-stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, Mintz-Plasse's performance was singled out for its honesty, as his character defied some stereotypical nerdisms, while embracing others. Bespectacled and sporting a nasally, grating voice, his character was just as eager to chase girls and get wasted as any jock - in fact, he seemed blissfully unaware of any shortcomings he possessed. And it was played for realistic as well as comic effect that Mintz-Plasse - the scrawniest and most youthful looking of his circle of friends - would be the one to not only attempt to get a fake ID, but succeed; boldly listing his name as the one-word moniker, "McLovin" - much to the consternation of his desperate friends.
Thanks to his young age of 17, and the decidedly adult nature of the script, Mintz-Plasse found himself in the awkward position of rushing to a tutor between takes, later revealing on a late night talk show that he suffered the embarrassment of having his mother be present during the filming of his sex scene gone awry. After filming, he returned to finish his last year of high school, and anonymity. But even before "Superbad" opened, Mintz-Plasse began to be recognized on the street, thanks to the powerful buzz surrounding the film and the numerous clips available online. He also found himself part of a strong media blitz, joining his co-stars on the talk show circuit and making a highly-publicized appearance at the San Diego Comicon.
Despite the film's "R" rating, audiences turned out in droves, and Mintz-Plasse became a hero not just to other outsiders, but "cool kids" too, who found themselves cheering as McLovin found lovin' of his own. Mintz-Plasse insisted in interviews that his next project was junior college, but suggested that he was every bit committed to pursing acting full time, after no doubt being in great demand following his standout film debut.
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