If, like me, you came of age in the 00s and were lucky enough to be raised by such insightful teen comedies as American Pie, The Girl Next Door, Road Trip, and other films your parents just shut the door and let you get on with masturbating to, then you probably know of the 2004 "comedy adventure" EuroTrip starring Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, and Michelle Trachtenberg. If not, here is a brief summary: Ohio nerd Scott Thomas (Mechlowicz) gets dumped by his high school girlfriend, and in a whirlwind of heartbreak and insecurity decides to embark on a quest across Europe to find and apologise to his sexy German pen pal, Mieke, whose advances he rejected because he thought she was a dude called "Mike". Hilarity ensues. Sex is had in locations that do not lend themselves to pleasure. A bunch of Manchester United fans led by Vinnie Jones save the day. And lots of other unrealistic events are strung together to justify it being classified as a "teen movie" instead of an "adult film". Anyway, more importantly, Matt Damon is in it. A shaved-head, tattooed, pierced to shit Matt Damon.
Even the more seasoned fans of EuroTrip - by which I mean those of us who have watched it more than once at a crap house party - may not have been aware of Damon's cameo as the guy who sung "Scotty Doesn't Know", thus informing Scotty, and the entire graduating class, that he's been sleeping with his girlfriend for ages. Watch and observe Academy Award winning actor Matt Damon front a pop-punk band, with a labret piercing and a t-shirt that says 'GET OFF MY CASE', thrashing his head around like Glenn Danzig in a hurricane while performing a song whose opening lyrics are "Scotty doesn't know that Fiona and me do it in my van every Sunday".
There are a lot of questions raised here. Did people really wear barbed wire necklaces in 2004? Why does this otherwise flawless song have a dub breakdown? To what degree did this inform his performance in Sarah Silverman's viral smash "I'm Fucking Matt Damon"? But, more pressingly, this film was released a good few years after Good Will Hunting, Dogma, Saving Private Ryan, and The Talented Mr. Ripley... What are you doing in the teen adventure-comedy EuroTrip, esteemed and respected actor, producer, and screenwriter Matt Damon? Why do this to yourself? Fortunately, he did a Reddit AMA last night where someone asked him just that, and, like the benevolent good humourist that he is, Matt Damon answered.
Turns out it was mostly circumstance. Matt Damon was shooting The Brothers Grimm in Prague where he had to wear a wig for his part (look here at your own risk). He went to college with the guys who wrote EuroTrip, they asked "Will you come play this, you know, Howard Rollins kind of insane, bad version of a suburban, you know, punk band guy?" and Matt Damon said "Yeah, I'm in Prague".
Side note: I think he actually meant to write "Henry Rollins" not "Howard Rollins" but who has time to give yourself a brief Google-education on 80s-era Black Flag when you are Matt Damon doing a Reddit AMA out of the kindness of your extremely cool heart. Also, turns out "Scotty Doesn't Know" was written by his college roommate's brother, and another of his other college roommates is in the band so, in Matt Damon's words, "it was kind of a family affair."
You can read his reply in full below.
"So EuroTrip was written by three guys I went to college with, Alec Shaffer, Jeff Berg, and Dave Mandell. And the three of them are three of the best comedy writers in the world. In fact, Alec and Jeff when we moved out to LA, we had this running joke where we had one bottle of champagne that I think they sent to us when we sold Good Will Hunting, or no, we sent it to them first because they had been hired on Seinfeld, so we would pass this bottle back and forth, we never opened it, but it was just to congratulate each other at these milestone moments in our careers. So we kind of came up together. I was in Prague shooting The Brothers Grimm, we were in rehearsals, and I had a wig in that movie, and so Alec and Dave and Jeff were making EuroTrip and they said "Will you come play this, you know, Howard Rollins kind of insane, bad version of a suburban, you know, punk band guy?" And I said "Yea, I'm in Prague". So I showed up and I'm sitting there, and I'm like "I'm wearing a wig, just shave my head, let’s just go for it." and we did it, and put a bunch of piercings all over. And "Scotty Doesn't Know", the song, was actually written by one of my college roommates brothers, and in the band, one of my college roommates is actually in that back up band, Jason, is playing guitar in that group. So it was kind of a family affair."
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