Seann William Scott never has to worry about losing his head. After all, he already lived that experience in Final Destination. Released in 2000, that franchise-launching horror movie memorably turned the Grim Reaper into a malevolent Rube Goldberg, hunting a group of teenage plane crash survivors through a series of elaborate traps.
Case in point: after a near-miss with a near-train collision, Scott's genial doofus, Billy Hitchcock, is claimed by Death courtesy of a flying piece of shrapnel that separates his head from his body. It was a convincing-enough death that Scott's real-life older brother assumed he'd be visiting Hollywood to put flowers on his young sibling's grave.
"My older brother watched Final Destination in theaters, and when my head got cut off, he had a full-on freak-out," Scott tells Yahoo Entertainment with a hearty laugh. "He threw his popcorn everywhere, then ran up to the aisle and went to the bathroom and was throwing up everywhere. He called our mom, and said: 'Seann just got his head cut off!' And she was like, 'Um... it's a movie.'"
But Scott's sibling still wasn't convinced he hadn't seen his baby brother snuffed onscreen. And the actor confesses to deliberately prolonging his agony. "I intentionally didn't call him back for a long time just to mess with him," Scott says. "When I finally did talk to him, I was like, 'Dude, it's just a movie.'" Hey, at least he didn't pull a Seven and mail his brother his head in a box...
For the record, Scott really did have a plaster head made for his death scene, and insists that experience was scarier than shooting his decapitation. "I did not like that at all," he remembers. "They wrap your head so you can't hear and you can't breath. I had a full panic attack, and was freaking out."
Eventually, the special effects crew got him to calm down by using a little competitive psychology. "They said, 'You're doing better than this guy,'" Scott says, declining to say the name of the actor he was being pitted against. "I settled into it, because I thought to myself, 'I've gotta do better than that guy!'"
Scott was particularly sensitive to being compared to other actors since Final Destination director James Wong wasn't originally sure he was right for the film. Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment in 2020, Wong revealed that the actor's scene-stealing performance as Stifler in American Pie seemed too far removed from the kind of performer they wanted for Billy.
"Billy was written as this kind of dorky guy ... so it took a little bit of convincing," Wong explained. "But when we met [Seann], he does have a goofy quality to him even though he has these leading-man looks. So we went with him, and it worked out really great because he was so popular from American Pie."
For his part, Scott remembers that Stifler's lack of dork-itude was a potential roadblock. "They probably saw that character and thought, 'He doesn't seem like Billy Hitchcock,'" the actor says. But his own innate dorkiness ultimately shone through. "I'm such a dork that it didn't take long," Scott says with a smile. "[James] probably spent two minutes with me and was like, 'He's good.'"
Watch our full Role Recall interview with Seann William Scott on YouTube
Final Destination is currently streaming on Max