Devon Sawa of 'Slackers' fame discusses costars, jokes

After an impromptu Frisbee session in the drop-off zone of the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla, I was able to stop Devon Sawa of “”Slackers”” and get background information about the set. Fresh from a day of classic ding-dong-ditch in the Hyatt, the 23-year-old Vancouver native settled in and assumed a calm, collected, good interview front — backward cap and all.

JK: Does a morning of ding-dong-ditch mean that the set of “”Slackers”” was crazy, too?

DS: Yeah, we’re making the hotel upset. The set was definitely crazy. A lot of crazy stuff went on.

JK: The classic Hollywood pin-up icon Mamie VanDoren makes an appearance in an intimate sponge bath scene. What was it like working with someone who has been in the business for so long?

DS: I did get to meet her, but very briefly. I was watching the scene from behind the cameras and it was hard to keep the laughter in. That was all improv. Yeah, [Jason] Schwartzman just came up with all that stuff. He just went nuts and she went along with it … He is just so extremely talented you would often hear the director saying, “”God Devon, stop laughing!”” and I’d say, “”No, I can’t. Schwartzman is just so funny!””

JK: How much of the movie was improv?

DS: Oh jeez, I’d say about 80 percent of that film was improvised. There was a lot of acting added to the script.

JK: Was the original script as funny?

DS: When I read the original script and got to the montage sequence, I just thought it was funny as hell. All the different things — a lesbian make-out session, the singing and dancing penis — it was raw and original.

JK: Had you ever been in a cheating situation in school or life?

DS: I have not because it was so hard for me growing up because I had a set teacher for most of my life, so you got one guy in a trailer staring at you for three hours. There is no way of cheating there. There is no way of slacking off, there is no way of skipping school or cheating on your test.

JK: Do you see any of yourself in your character Dave?

DS: Not at all. At the high school age, I was about a foot shorter than all the girls and a little quirky and skinny, and so I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. Dave is very smooth; always been the popular guy. We are pretty different.

JK: How did the crew handle all the cast and their practical jokes?

DS: We of course at times were goofing off. We pissed off the props people pretty good. By law, you can’t drink beer on film, so they change the beer to water, but we decided to switch it back to beer.

JK: Did that scene make it in the movie?

DS: Yeah, we are all sitting on the couch. They found out, and they were not impressed. The director was having one, too, though! It was the end of the day and we said, “”Why not, let’s have a couple of real ones.””

JK: When “”Casper”” came out you were 15, and a lot of girls had pretty big crushes on you. Did you ever have any kind of stalker experience like the one in “”Slackers?””

DS: Luckily, no. But I have had some weird fans. I had one girl that sent her brassiere and a lock of her hair. The bra was just gigantic and the lock of hair was red and it ended up being a big red-haired bra because in the mail … it was just a big hairy bra. Things like that — nothing too threatening. Nothing too Ethan in “”Slackers.””

JK: What does the movie say to the college kids?

DS: We are not trying to send a message. We want to entertain and get them to relax. Have a couple of beers if you can, and go see it.

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