Thomas Ian Nicholas Talks Please Give and Duct Taped In-N-Out Burger

Everette Perry
Thomas Ian Nicholas might have first caught our eye over 11 years ago in the film franchise American Pie, but this summer he reintroduced himself to a more cerebral crowd with the release of Nicole Holofcener's new film Please Give. On top of that, Nicholas has a new album out, Heroes Are Human, and four new films slated for later this year. Here, he shares his recent snowboarding experiences at the Sundance Film Festival, talks winter pool parties and discusses a strange experience involving duct tape and In-N-Out Burger On the set of American Pie.

Tell me about your new movies coming out. Let's start with Please Give.

It's one of the most honest performances I have given thanks to Nicole. I play the love interest of Rebecca Hall in the movie that also stars Amanda Peet, Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt. The film takes a semi-cynical look at the lives of these flawed New Yorkers. However, my character brings hope to the story. Don't be fooled by the preview -- this is not a chick flick. Read the reviews and go see this movie. It was theatrically released nationwide in June, so you may have to wait for DVD.

What about The Chicago 8?

I play the outspoken, cultural revolutionary Abbie Hoffman. The film focuses on the federal trial of 1969 where eight men were indicted for crossing state lines with the intent to insight a riot. I spent so much time preparing for the role that the spirit of Abbie Hoffman lives on in me. I was even inspired to write a song that is track nine on my new album. It's called "Revolution Now."

And Fading of the Cries?

It's a fantasy/action/horror movie that I produced and acted in. The film was written and directed by Brian Metcalf. He has a visual effects background which gives him such a unique vision for the world he has created. The film has been in post production for over a year because it has more CGI shots than a 50 million dollar studio film. I'll post about the release on my twitter page (@TINband)     

You went to The Sundance Film Festival with Please Give, what was the experience like?

I've been to the festival twice before, but this was the first time that one of my films was officially a part of Sundance. The majority of my time was spent promoting Please Give and the rest I spent snowboarding. I know, I know ... I should have seen more movies, but there was this huge snowstorm that came in and I just couldn't pass up the chance to board on some fresh pow pow. I mean, I grew up in SoCal so all I ever boarded on were groomers. It was my first time on powder and it was epic.

Any on-set stories you can share?

While shooting Please Give we filmed our driving scene with the car being towed on a trailer. The camera was on the drivers side, mounted with metal brackets that were tucked in-between the window and the door. We were waiting to shoot the next scene and chatting with the crew. Now, you've got to consider that film shoots are 12 hours a day and usually for at least a month. So you don't get much free time with your loved ones, especially if you're shooting on location. With that in mind, it will make more sense as to why the topic of conversation was about sex and how while you're working on a film you don't get to have much of it. So, we were joking around and taking a vote. Raise your hand if it's been two weeks. Raise your hand if it's been one week. My wife had just come to visit me in New York, so I was patiently waiting for my turn to vote. Finally, it got down to raise your hand if you had sex yesterday. I excitedly raised my hand and just as I did, my window exploded! I guess at that particular moment we hit a bump in the road. The little metal bracket tucked in-between the glass and the door must have shifted from the weight of the camera. The metal punctured the glass and caused the window to shatter. The only bummer was the camera wasn't rolling and we didn't catch the moment on film.

Chicago 8 is about protesters at the 1968 Democratic Convention.  What are some hot topics you would protest for?

I'm against the budget cuts that are affecting the art and music programs in the public school system. I think that it's important to teach the next generation how to express themselves artistically. I play a yearly charity event for an organization called the Life Through Art Foundation that puts underprivileged kids into art programs. I consider that a good band aid to the issue. I'm also planning on getting involved with the Creative Coalition, which lobbies Congress for budget reform as it pertains to the music and art programs in public schools.

Who is one of your favorite characters you've played?

Mitch, from Roger Avary's adaptation of Rules of Attraction -- mainly because it was the performance most outside of my own personality.  

Do you have a favorite memory from filming American Pie?

Let me start off by saying that I'm a huge fan of In-N-Out Burger. In American Wedding, I was duct taped to a chair during the bachelor party scene. During a long shooting day we took a break for second meal, which was from In-N-Out. The amount of time it would have taken to get out of the duct tape and back into it was about the same as the break itself. I didn't want to let the burger get cold and I couldn't hold up shooting. The wonderful ladies from the costume department, who were in charge of the duct tape, actually fed me my burger and fries. So there I was, duct taped to a chair, being fed my favorite meal.

How did you get into music?

I grew up listening to classic rock from my Mom's collection. I literally wore out the cassette tape for Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy. The first album in my own collection was a gift from the producers of Rookie of the Year. They gave me a Walkman and the Wayne's World soundtrack. At age 12, I got my first stereo with a CD player. I bought Nirvana's Nevermind, Weezer's Blue Album and Green Day's Dookie. I was into grunge rock, but I still had that core of classic rock. When I was 14, I finally noticed my Mom's guitar that had been sitting in the corner of our apartment. I learned a few chords and a few more until I was playing three hours every day. After I learned to sing and play Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," I started writing my own songs.          

Who would you like to sing a duet with?

Bruce Springsteen

What are the last three songs you downloaded?

Incubus's "Anna Molly," (acoustic version) Bottle of Justus' "One Way Out" and Weezer' s "Troublemaker."

What is your favorite song you sing and what inspired it?

"Color Outside the Lines." It's about the ideals we stand for despite the daily propaganda that surrounds us. The inspiration comes from wanting to encourage people to break free from following the rules. To color outside the lines with a purpose.   

What is one of the craziest things you've seen a fan do?

During an acoustic tour in Northern Cali, I had the chance to play at Blakes in Berkeley. It was a night of costumes, but I guess I didn't get the memo. The headlining act was wearing crazy monster costumes that looked like Where the Wild Things Are and the band before me looked like Phantom of the Opera. But what I remember most about that night is the band that played right after me. The lead singer was dressed up in the Cubs baseball uniform: the hat, the jersey, the stirrups and even the cleats. They also had a TV/VCR on stage that was playing Rookie of the Year during their entire set. It was quite a sight. Afterwards, they told me they were worried about offending me, but I thought it was pretty funny.

Do you go out to dinner or stay at home and cook?

For me the perfect meal is getting food delivered while I chill at home. It's the best of both worlds. Like most people, I've got a kitchen drawer full of menus with all my favorite restaurants that deliver to our hood.

What is your signature dish?

I love to grill outside, but that only happens when we're throwing our annual winter pool party. We heat the pool up to 100 degrees, so it's the world's largest jacuzzi. I slow-cook pork ribs for three hours until the meat simply falls off the bone. (And no, I don't boil the ribs first.)

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Sushi Nozawa in Studio City is by far my favorite sushi restaurant. It's to the point that I can't eat sushi anywhere else.

Doctor Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas Bar-B-Que in Van Nuys is the best dang BBQ round these parts.

List your favorite possessions.

My wedding ring, my iPhone, my Gibson 339 and my Diesel boots.

Tell me something about you no one else knows?

I'm a night owl. I rarely go to bed before 2 a.m. It's one of my favorite times to write music ... the phone stops ringing and I can focus on anything I want.

What are your favorite websites? It's just like Google, but better. Every time you search or shop you raise money for your favorite charity. for some good, old-fashioned cartoon entertainment from a source outside of the system.  

Favorite LA neighborhood?

I could tell you ... but I really like hanging out there ... so I won't.

Photographed by J.Everette Perry
Hair & Make up by Allan Avendano
Stylist Assistant  Kristie Jorfald

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