Five Favorite Films with Chris Klein

We chat with the Authors Anonymous star.

Chris Klein is probably best known as Chris "Oz" Ostreicher, one of four high school pals who famously sought to lose their virginity in 1999's American Pie and remained friends throughout the franchise's subsequent installments, but he's amassed quite an eclectic filmography. Currently, Klein stars alongside Kaley Cuoco in Authors Anonymous, a comedy about a group of struggling writers learning to cope with the sudden success of one of its members. We got the chance to speak with Klein about his Five Favorite Films, which proved to be somewhat revealing about his own personality. Read on for his selections:


Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981; 95% Tomatometer)

I'm a guy. I love guy films. I love adventure films. Adventure films are why I wanted to be in show business; I wanted to go on those adventures. I think my very favorite movie of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark.

RT: We were just talking about this movie, because Mayim Bialik's character on The Big Bang Theory recently made the claim that Raiders would be the exact same movie without Indiana Jones in it, which sparked a fifteen-minute debate among all of us yesterday.

And where did you guys land?

RT: Unfortunately, she's kind of right, because when you think about every plot point in the film, Indiana Jones is always playing catch-up. There's not anything that he does that really spurs events into motion.

Oh, that's hilarious. But isn't that what makes Indiana Jones so terrific? He's a human being. In today's movies, we don't get heroes without superpowers. We don't get heroes who are playing catch-up and trying to make things happen with some courage, grit, a whip, and a hat. He's a history teacher, for God's sake. He's an archaeologist. And he's one of the greatest American heroes. I love that he doesn't have any superpowers. That's why he's one of my favorite all-time cinematic characters, whether he's necessary to the plot or not. Being a very little kid, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, going on that journey with Indiana Jones, it just spurred the imagination.




Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962; 99% Tomatometer)

Next on my list is Lawrence of Arabia. 1962, Peter O'Toole, directed by David Lean. When you watch this movie digitally remastered... I would love, at some point, to see it in a theater, to see it on film, the way it was meant to be seen. I've never done that with Lawrence of Arabia, and I would love to be able to do that. But when you watch that on a flatscreen -- get a big enough one -- with surround sound, the epicness of this movie... I mean, there's an intermission for God's sake. I'm not sure there's a greater adventure than Lawrence of Arabia. And Peter O'Toole, he's another guy who doesn't have any superpowers. He's a human being. He's working off the human condition, what it is to be a man, and what he believes in, and what he's trying to do out there in the middle of the desert. It's epic. It's epic in scope.




Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000; 97% Tomatometer)

And then, one that I can't get away from is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. First of all, in America, we weren't all that familiar with Chow Yun-Fat, and we were a little bit more familiar with Michelle Yeoh, but we weren't all that familiar with Ziyi Zhang, who's phenomenal in everything that she does. But we'd never seen... I was new to the business -- I'd been in show business since 1997, so I was three years in show business, and a lover of movies my whole life. And I remember sitting in the theater going, "This is a turning point. I've never seen anything like this in my entire life." And then it's been copied now, over and over and over and over. And I would kind of argue that things like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I'd have to call that an original take on that genre. The story is beautiful, and visually, what Ang Lee was able to do... The fact that he can do that and make beautiful films like Brokeback Mountain, and then come back and do movies like Life of Pi, which is another visually stunning film. For me, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon might be on the list to stay. You and I could sit down and watch that movie right now and still go, "God is that cool! That is just cool."




The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008; 97% Tomatometer)

I'm taking you in a slightly different direction now, and I'm going to throw down Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. To me, as an actor, and as a lover and proponent of independent film, what Kathryn Bigelow and Jeremy Renner were able to do on a budget... The storytelling in this movie is sublime. I would have a hard time putting any performance by a male actor above the beautifully nuanced, incredibly layered performance that Jeremy Renner gives in this movie. Yes, he was nominated; I still don't think he gets enough credit for this performance. Maybe it's my place in life, maybe it's the age I was when I saw the film, maybe it's the fact that I've been frustrated with the lack of war films coming out at a time when America was at war and these stories needed to be told. I still feel like they need to be told and aren't necessarily being told the right way. The Hurt Locker, to me, is as perfect a film as you can make. And Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty -- those three characters, gosh... That movie blows me away.




The Hustler (Robert Rossen, 1961; 98% Tomatometer)

Really for me, it's Paul Newman in The Hustler. When I watched The Hustler, and it's Jackie Gleason... You know, we know Jackie Gleason from The Honeymooners, but you have to know Jackie Gleason from The Hustler. When I watched that movie as an actor and as a lover of acting, again, those performances from those two men are standalone performances.

My father is a big reason why, because I fell in love with acting very early on, and my dad introduced me to the actors that he grew up watching, and I had the opportunity, watching these films, to really get a master class in being an actor. Listen, I just turned 35 in March, and my goal is to become an actor capable of telling the type of stories that Paul Newman got to tell, and that Redford got to tell, and that Cary Grant and those guys got to tell. You know, you talk about the comedy and the mystery and the intrigue and the drama; these guys honed in on it all. And when I watched The Hustler, out of the long list of amazing performances that Paul Newman gives, to me, that movie just stands alone.



RT: The commonality that I see in these particular films is that, as you were saying in the beginning, these are guys without superpowers. These are normal guys who were very heroic in their everyday lives, and they did extraordinary things just because they were extraordinary. I would wager that says something about you and how you try to live. Do you think that's the case?

Chris Klein: You know, I suppose so. I think that that's a pretty good assessment. There's a reason that we gravitate toward movies. They make us feel something. And all of these men in these films are definitely men that I look up to, men that inspire me to try to do amazing things with my ordinary powers. You know, I don't come to the table with any superpowers. And yeah, ordinary men doing extraordinary things in the face of extraordinary circumstances -- those are the stories that I love. And really, what that says about me -- I hope it's what you said. I hope that I strive to be a good person like that. I'm sure that there are plenty of people in my life that would call me the anti-hero. [laughs] But yeah, I think with this list, especially, that's definitely a fair assessment.


Authors Anonymous is currently playing in limited release.

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Not much of a fan of Klein's but these are pretty good selections. In fact, if it weren't for Hurt Locker, it'd be an astounding set.

Apr 24 - 06:28 PM

Bryan Selwood

Bryan Selwood

Agreed

Apr 25 - 05:53 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

No shit huh? I'm shocked that his list is so good considering how poor I consider him as an actor.

Apr 27 - 04:02 AM

Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum

Wow, Klein has surprisingly great taste in films! (Especially Raiders)

Apr 24 - 06:35 PM

King of the Snoots

Ryan Brown

Terrific list. He comes across as completely honest - not as someone trying to earn brownie points from the cinephiles.

Apr 24 - 06:43 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

All great films, except raiders of course.

Apr 24 - 09:19 PM

Jeff Goldeneye

Life Finds a Way

Weren't you ah... mad at me for writing things like that?

#hypocrite

Apr 24 - 09:40 PM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Damn, you took it.

Apr 25 - 10:48 AM

Dave J

Dave J

He was obviously making a point how annoying you're whenever you say sh-t like that! As I see it, all you're getting is a taste of your own sh-tty medicine!

Apr 25 - 01:43 PM

Geeskater

Jamie Rogers

haha Ian you're actually hilarious

Apr 25 - 04:57 PM

Ryan Bowling

Ryan Bowling

Cocaine is a helluva drug.

Apr 24 - 09:42 PM

Jeff Goldeneye

Life Finds a Way

Weren't you ah... mad at me for writing things like that?

#hypocrite

Apr 24 - 09:40 PM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Damn, you took it.

Apr 25 - 10:48 AM

Dave J

Dave J

He was obviously making a point how annoying you're whenever you say sh-t like that! As I see it, all you're getting is a taste of your own sh-tty medicine!

Apr 25 - 01:43 PM

Geeskater

Jamie Rogers

haha Ian you're actually hilarious

Apr 25 - 04:57 PM

Ryan Bowling

Ryan Bowling

Cocaine is a helluva drug.

Apr 24 - 09:42 PM

Jake Braden

Jake Braden

Probably the worst top 5 I've seen so far

Apr 24 - 11:30 PM

Vincent

Do you even Jay Cutler?

Someone hasn't seen Michael B. Jordan's top 5.

Apr 25 - 02:37 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Miles Teller's was worse.

Apr 25 - 10:43 AM

Vincent

Do you even Jay Cutler?

Oh yeah... he had like on good film on that list right?

Apr 25 - 03:36 PM

Jake Braden

Jake Braden

Okay the black kid who dies in Chronicle's was pretty bad, but I still think this one is worse. I thought Rounders was a decent movie.

Apr 25 - 11:10 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Rounders better than Raiders or the Hustler? Naw, man.

Apr 25 - 03:12 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Rounders was a fine movie, but Lawrence of Arabia or The Hustler it ain't and really it's hard to overcome the fact that it's really a thinly veiled attempt (albeit a very good one) to capitalize on Matt Damon's Good Will Hunting em good will.

Apr 27 - 04:05 AM

David Rocha

David Rocha

I'll always remember him in Election before American Pie.

Apr 25 - 12:20 AM

Lisa Partridge

Lisa Partridge

Paul Power... Paul for President... Paul... Promise... Progress... Peanut...

Apr 25 - 06:11 AM

nate2709

Nate 2709

Vote for Metzler? You Betzler!

Apr 27 - 07:25 PM

Sketcher  J.

Sketcher Jack

Great movies, but he's certainly an uninteresting fellow. He has nothing profound to say about any of his choices, all of them are chosen based on sentiment and only aesthetic. And what the fuck is up with his superhero hate? The characters in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon practically have superpowers.

Apr 25 - 12:27 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Isn't that a lot of what makes movies someone favorites. On one hand I realize say 2001: A Space Oddysey is a better movie than Top Secret, but given a choice I'll personally still be watching Val Kilmer Skeet Surfin' every time.

Apr 27 - 04:08 AM

rallypoint1

John Curran Jr.

I've heard the argument about Raiders before, but it wouldn't be the exact same film. If nothing else if he hadn't been on the island the American government wouldn't have gotten the Ark. How he got it off the island could use some explaining though! Maybe the real development was between Indy and Marion. The adventure was the journey but the real growth and heart stemmed from the two of them. If they had failed to get to the island or were stuck in Cairo or hid in the ship and weren't found by the Nazis, there would still be Indy and Marion. I always felt much more weight between the two of them than anything else. When he's packing his bag and without even looking at Marcus says "do you think SHE'LL still be with him?" No other introduction, and Marcus knows who he's talking about. Or the best shot of the whole movie when his silhouette is shown on the tavern wall and the gravity of their reunion is all over her face. That is compelling and felt so legit. That is the real drive, even if Indy did leave her in the tent. That was kind of a dick move.

Apr 25 - 01:02 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Yeah, to say that Jones never "spurred" the plot along doesn't recognize that if they hadn't followed him to Marion's in the first place, they would have never have found the Ark.

Apr 25 - 10:41 AM

Vincent

Do you even Jay Cutler?

He lost me at the Hurt Locker and Crouching Tiger... A better film in both genres would be Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (or Full Metal Jacket) and Jet Li's Hero.

Apr 25 - 02:37 AM

Premo Beat

John Noto

This might be your personal preference but by no standard metric is Hero better than CTHD, including fight choreography. The fem-dojo scene is perhaps the most astounding fight ever filmed.

Apr 25 - 05:06 AM

Vincent

Do you even Jay Cutler?

Someone hasn't seen Michael B. Jordan's top 5.

Apr 25 - 02:37 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Miles Teller's was worse.

Apr 25 - 10:43 AM

Vincent

Do you even Jay Cutler?

Oh yeah... he had like on good film on that list right?

Apr 25 - 03:36 PM

Jake Braden

Jake Braden

Okay the black kid who dies in Chronicle's was pretty bad, but I still think this one is worse. I thought Rounders was a decent movie.

Apr 25 - 11:10 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Rounders better than Raiders or the Hustler? Naw, man.

Apr 25 - 03:12 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Rounders was a fine movie, but Lawrence of Arabia or The Hustler it ain't and really it's hard to overcome the fact that it's really a thinly veiled attempt (albeit a very good one) to capitalize on Matt Damon's Good Will Hunting em good will.

Apr 27 - 04:05 AM

Premo Beat

John Noto

This might be your personal preference but by no standard metric is Hero better than CTHD, including fight choreography. The fem-dojo scene is perhaps the most astounding fight ever filmed.

Apr 25 - 05:06 AM

Lisa Partridge

Lisa Partridge

Paul Power... Paul for President... Paul... Promise... Progress... Peanut...

Apr 25 - 06:11 AM

nate2709

Nate 2709

Vote for Metzler? You Betzler!

Apr 27 - 07:25 PM

shawneanderson

Shawne Anderson

I like the way he explains the reasons and background around his choices.

Apr 25 - 09:17 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Yeah, to say that Jones never "spurred" the plot along doesn't recognize that if they hadn't followed him to Marion's in the first place, they would have never have found the Ark.

Apr 25 - 10:41 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Miles Teller's was worse.

Apr 25 - 10:43 AM

Vincent

Do you even Jay Cutler?

Oh yeah... he had like on good film on that list right?

Apr 25 - 03:36 PM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Damn, you took it.

Apr 25 - 10:48 AM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

I don't think I've ever seen him anywhere else but the American Pie movies. Fantastic list nonetheless, especially Raiders.

Apr 25 - 10:49 AM

Jake Braden

Jake Braden

Okay the black kid who dies in Chronicle's was pretty bad, but I still think this one is worse. I thought Rounders was a decent movie.

Apr 25 - 11:10 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Rounders better than Raiders or the Hustler? Naw, man.

Apr 25 - 03:12 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Rounders was a fine movie, but Lawrence of Arabia or The Hustler it ain't and really it's hard to overcome the fact that it's really a thinly veiled attempt (albeit a very good one) to capitalize on Matt Damon's Good Will Hunting em good will.

Apr 27 - 04:05 AM

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