THE MIND READER. Having shot to fame through the “American Pie” series, Eddie Kaye Thomas shows how his acting chops run much, much deeper with hit TV series “Scorpion”
Eddie Kaye Thomas became a household name after he appeared as the precocious Paul Finch in “American Pie” and its three sequels. He has also done plenty of other comedies, from cheesy ones like “Freddy Got Fingered” to surprise hits like “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.”
Now, while it’s easy to associate an actor with the over-the-top roles he’s best known for, Thomas has much more in common with the more “serious” classically-trained artists, as he earned his acting spurs on theater. That, and his current on-screen home is the popular tech-thriller “Scorpion,” where he plays a not-so-typical (for him, at least) genius.
Judging by how our conversation went, “genius” definitely fits him better—whether it’s as an actor or as a storyteller with a knack for providing witty exposition on showbiz.
DA MAN: Hi Eddie! Glad to have you with us. Since we’re already halfway through the year, how do you feel has 2016 treated you so far?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: 2016 has been great. “Scorpion” is the most labor-intensive job I have ever had, and so far this year we’ve been grinding away very hard. The episodes airing this year are bigger and crazier than the ones from first season, so we’ve all been giving it all we’ve got.
DA MAN: Are there any other film projects that you’re currently working on?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: I’m still voicing Barry on “American Dad.” Being on a cartoon was always a dream of mine, and I lucked out getting on “American Dad.” It’s one of the few shows that have gotten better and funnier each year. Those writers are very impressive.
DA MAN: With “Scorpion” entering its third season, what’s in store for fans of the show?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: With television getting more and more competitive, every show has been forced to up their game. “Scorpion” is a unique blend of action, comedy and character development. It somehow manages to be an action comedy that is for the whole family. I’ve been so surprised at how many young kids as well as older viewers are big fans of the show. Since the show is so different than other procedurals, I think it took us our full first season to find our voice. The second season has been fun because we were all in a groove, knew what our jobs were and what the show was. Third season, I think, will get heavier into the relationships among the group, the difficulty of love for the mentally enabled, and we’ll continue to blow a lot of crap up.
Denim trousers by Levi’s, shoes by Nike
DA MAN: Your character, Toby Curtis, is great at reading behavioral patterns. How do you get in character with a role like this?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: In terms of preparing to play a genius, I leave all of the heavy lifting to the writers of the show. I think it’s my job to find the humanity in this guy. Though he’s a genius of human behavior, he’s not so great at being a human. He’s got lots of demons, a gambling problem, probably codependent, grew up in a mess of a family and hides this all by being a smart ass. The writers have done a great job of creating fun, complex characters for all of us, and we just bring the humanity to it. It’s a collaboration that I love.
DA MAN: Speaking of reading behavioral patterns, are you just as good with that in real life?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: I am horrible at reading behavior. I always think people are hooking up when they are not; I am the worst liar and can never tell when someone is lying to me. I am an insurance salesman’s dream.
DA MAN: By the way, we featured your co-star from the series, Katharine McPhee, a couple of editions ago. How has it been like working with her?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: I call Katharine the fabric softener of our group. As I said, we all work very hard and when we are grumpy and tired, she’s the one who makes things lighter and fluffier.
“My personal life is way more important than anything that can happen in the entertainment industry”
DA MAN: Looking back, you were also known for playing Paul Finch the in four “American Pie” movies. How significant would you say was that role for you and your career?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Being in “American Pie” was the most significant role I’ve played. I’ve realized that when I’m 70 years old, there will probably still be people who look at me and yell, “Shitbreak!” That movie really tapped into something in the worldwide psyche—I’m not sure exactly what but when I was taking acting class as a kid, I never thought my fame and fortune would come from having diarrhea in front of a worldwide audience. No business like show business.
DA MAN: You started acting at the age of seven. Have you always wanted to be an actor? How did this passion develop so early?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: I started acting at seven years old because it seemed like a fun after-school activity. At the time, there was a city-run free theater program called New York City Kids On Stage. It was a place for kids to go after school and make theater. I never felt like I made a decision to be an actor; it was just something that I never stopped wanting to do.
Outfit by Banana Republic
DA MAN: We also learned that you made your Broadway debut at a very early age, and that you’ve been performing on and off again in a number of theatrical productions. How much does playing on Broadway (or theater in general) mean to you?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: My Broadway debut at age 11 was actually an understudy role in a John Guare play. I started doing theater in New York at eight years old. Very weird Lower-East-Side stuff. And that scene in the late ‘80s wasn’t a place you would necessarily put an eight-year-old in, but in hindsight the experience was as great as it could be. I was exposed to all types of creativity and the widest variety of people: Struggling actors, experimental writers, drag queens and poets. I had no idea at the time, but I was being introduced to one of the most diverse and exciting places in the world. I feel very blessed to have done that and to have had parents that were open to letting me experience it. I don’t know what exactly I got out of it, but I’m sure it affected me somehow.
“Acting was just something that I never stopped wanting to do”
DA MAN: Outside of acting, what are your biggest interests at the moment? How do you usually spend your time when you’re not working?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Now that season two [of “Scorpion”] is wrapped up, I’m dedicating a lot of time to following the New York Mets, getting some sleep, seeing music and theater, and I’m going to go see Asia for the first time in my life.
DA MAN: After 28 years in showbiz, what is the most important lesson that you have learned?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: After doing this for 28 years, I’ve learned to not compare myself to other actors, to thoroughly enjoy the call from my agent that I’ve booked a job and not let anything ruin that 10 minutes of bliss, to allow myself twenty minutes of disappointment when I don’t get a job and then let it go, and that my personal life is way more important than anything that can happen in the entertainment industry.
To see more pictures from this shoot, get your copy of DA MAN June/July 2016 here. And check out these outtakes below:
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Lauren LaRocca
Grooming Simone for Exclusive Artists Management using Recipe for Men and Kevin Murphy Hair Care
Styling Assistants Courtney Leday and Marc Graham