On June 12, 1998, Can’t Hardly Wait premiered in theaters. Though it was hardly a runaway hit at the box office, it helped launch the careers of many stars and kicked off several years of highly popular teen films that would be responsible for shaping our high school (and college) years. The film was particularly known for its ensemble cast that was filled with tons of “before they were famous” stars including Jason Segel (Watermelon Guy), Sean Patrick Thomas (Jock Friend) and Ethan Embry (Preston Meyers), who was emerging from a world of child acting into adulthood. Fifteen years later, Embry took the time out of filming a werewolf thriller, Late Phases, to chat with VH1 Celebrity about the vibe on set, his “altered” state and what the movie was actually about.
VH1 Celebrity: What initially drew you to the project?
Ethan Embry: It had been awhile that I had the opportunity to play the “guy that gets the girl.” I had done those roles when I was a lot younger and this was the first time that someone would see me as a lead. I went in and did the audition. Funny enough, they offered me [William Lichter] that Charlie Korsmo ended up playing. And that was along the lines of what I had been doing at that time. I said, no. I wanted to play the guy who gets the girl. That was sort of the driving thing.
The script that we read was a very different script than what everybody saw. The same thing happened with Empire Records. We had an R rated script and a lot of the characters ended up getting cut out so that we could make PG13. They did that the day before we started filming… That was before American Pie came out. So it was before it was okay for studios to make a raunchy comedy with high school characters.
Were you disappointed about the changes?
Of course. Of course you do it. Dude’s gotta pay his rent. But I miss a lot of that still. I think it would have been a much better film. The same with Empire Records … I watched [Empire Records] the other day, and it’s pretty damn silly, that movie. They both are. They both are actually! They are pretty damn silly.
The film is famous for being littered with “before they were famous” actors. Were you familiar with the other cast members before filming?
I knew Seth [Green] in passing at auditions when we were kids. We would sit there and play our Game Boys in the waiting room together and trade games. The child actor life.
I ended up doing another movie with Peter Facinelli [Mike Dexter] and Breckin Meyer [Lead Singer of Love Burger]. And I don’t know if we did right before or right after. Yeah, it was right before. We did a little movie called Dancer, Texas Pop. 81. But we never ended up working together.
That’s the other thing with Can’t Hardly Wait. It all takes place in the house but everyone had their own little movie going on. The only person I really had any scenes with was Lauren [Ambrose, who played Preston's best friend Denise Fleming]. Even Jennifer [Love Hewitt, who played Amanda Beckett] and I only had one scene together at the very end, you know?
Lauren Ambrose and I had a lot of interaction and we hung out a lot, getting to know each other to build that friendship. She’s rad. Love that woman!