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Jason Biggs learned plenty from 'American Pie' dad Eugene Levy

Jason Biggs learned plenty from 'American Pie' dad Eugene Levy

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Outmatched

Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson play parents of geniuses in "Outmatched," a new Fox sitcom.

LOS ANGELES – One of the best parts of starring in “American Pie” wasn’t tapping into the cultural zeitgeist, but working with Eugene Levy, says Jason Biggs.

Cast as his father in the coming-of-age comedy, Levy took Biggs under wing and treated him as a fellow actor, not just a kid who happened to be in the film.

“He worked with me and made me feel like I was part of the process,” the 41-year-old father of two says. “We were a bunch of kids who didn’t know what the hell we were doing ... but he saw something more.”

Biggs and Levy worked on their shared scenes and found new insight, thanks to an improvisation day Levy scheduled. “You don’t do that with a kid you don’t trust and respect,” Biggs says. “I’ll never forget that.”

Outmatched

Clockwise from upper left, Ashley Boettcher as Nicole, Connor Kalopsis as Brian, Oakley Bull as Leila, Jason Biggs as Mike, Maggie Lawson as Kay and Jack Stanton as Marc in "Outmatched."

While the film made Biggs a star and fueled several sequels, it had the potential to forever brand him “the ‘American Pie’ guy.”

Overcoming it “was harder than I anticipated,” he says. Rather than fight it, he leaned in and realized it was a blessing. “I may not get a lot of jobs because of being so closely associated with that guy – and that’s exactly what happened – but I knew it was going to be OK.”

Biggs kept working, made strides in the business and now finds himself playing a father in the Fox sitcom “Outmatched.” He and Maggie Lawson star as parents of geniuses.

Like Levy, he believes in taking the younger actors under wing and making them feel vital to the process.

“I see a lot of myself in them,” he says. “A lot of memories are being brought back. It’s wild being a kid in the industry.”

Outmatched

The cast of "Outmatched," from left, Jack Stanton as Marc, Ashley Boettcher as Nicole, Jason Biggs as Mike, Maggie Lawson as Kay, Connor Kalopsis as Brian and Oakley Bull as Leila.

When he started – in commercials at the age of 5 – Biggs enjoyed the process because his mother wasn’t a typical stage mom. Just before his teen years, he landed a sitcom (“Drexel’s Class”) and a Broadway show, “Conversations with My Father.”

The latter starred Judd Hirsch and he, too, made the work enjoyable. “Judd treated us so incredibly well,” Biggs says. “He made us feel like we were part of the process and not some kids who had to be there to say lines, then go back to their parents.”

All stage and film dads weren’t as generous. Though Biggs won’t name names, some were able to make him feel “very excluded.”

Remembering that, he and Lawson involve their young costars in plenty of the show’s fun. They also watch what they say around them (there’s a swear jar) and insist they don’t get to see “American Pie” until they’re much older.

“They’re already making fun of me for what I don’t know about social media,” says Lawson.

Jason Biggs

Jason Biggs stars in "Outmatched."

The four young actors have great parents, Biggs says, which makes the experience enjoyable.

At home, Biggs’ sons (he and actress Jenny Mollen have a soon-to-be 6-year-old and a 2-year-old) love to make him laugh.

“We sort of lead with humor,” Biggs says. “I’m totally outmatched at home. My wife and kids speak German and I do not, so they’ll speak to each other in German and I pretty much have no idea what’s going on. I’ll say something to my son using German words and he’ll look at me like, ‘Dad, you don’t speak German. You speak English.’”

Biggs says he likes to think of himself as the family disciplinarian, “but I probably let the kids get away with more than I should.”

A typical TV dad? “The more immersed in a show I become, the more I realize we have a lot of similarities,” he says.

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