In the new comedy “Fired Up!,” Eric Christian Olsen plays one of two high school football stars (Nick D’Agosto is the other) who eschew their summer gridiron camp for cheerleading camp.
Eric Christian Olsen is 31, an age at which most actors are through reliving their high school years.
“Dude, I figured that five years,” Olsen laughs. “I just had done ‘Eagle Eye’ and I think I had a seven-year-old in that. In ‘The Six Wives of Henry Lefay’ I play 27. In ‘Sunshine Cleaning’ and ‘Brothers & Sisters,’ I think I’m 30.”
He continues, “Obviously it’s ridiculous. But it’s a comedy and it was a necessit. They needed to have somebody who had the chemistry with Nick and I came in and read and we all thought it was ridiculous until that day and then we were like, ‘You know, we’re going to forgive it for the sake of being funny.'”
Olsen didn’t have an elaborate ritual for getting back in touch with his 17-year-old self. He didn’t go all Method on the set. His process was simple.
“I definitely shaved every morning,” he says. “I always have growth or a beard and this is the first time I’ve shaved in like six years. I shaved every morning and I was pleasantly surprised. I look young in the film. I don’t look 17-young, but it’s a comedy. If it’s a drama or a documentary, we’re in trouble, but I think with a broad comedy like this, you tend to forgive. Hopefully.”
You don’t need to have seen “Fired Up!” to anticipate a plot arc in which jocks go to cheer camp looking to score, but come away with a greater appreciation for cheerleaders, their athleticism and their craft. Olsen admits he went through a similar journey.
“There was a football camp and a cheer camp and we had to do two-and-half-weeks of cheer camp. I was like, ‘How hard can it be? You just throw the girls up and you catch them.’ Literally, I am the character at that point,” he says. “And I find out that I’m sorely mistaken. These guys are athletes. They travel all over the world for competitions. So I got the crap kicked out of me. I played 15 years of hockey and I got more injured doing two weeks of cheer camp.”
What was the hardest thing he learned?
“I think it’s the idea that no matter what, you have to catch these girls, the idea that you throw ’em 10 feet in the air and they start flying to the side and you end up just throwing yourself underneath them to make sure they don’t hit the mat,” he says. “We did once early on where we threw [Sarah] Roemer up and she started going over toward Nick and Nick just froze and she literally landed on his face, planted herself on his face. These girls, they’re fearless, so you have to get yourself in the mindset to catch them.”
If that image doesn’t make you want to see “Fired Up!,” how about knowing that in one pivotal scene, Olsen and D’Agosto have to go through an entire routine naked, or at least as naked as a PG-13 movie can offer.
“There’s no amount of preparation that’s enough preparation to do a naked cheering scene,” Olsen says. “We did it and they thought it was so funny they wanted to do more of it, so they made the naked cheer longer. But you’re always doing it with your clothes on, so when you show up that night and it’s one o’clock in the morning and it’s 40 degrees out and you’ve got a banana hammock on, you get the feeling like, ‘What am I doing with my life? How did it I end up here?'”
The answer for how he ended up there has a lot to do with first-time feature director Will Gluck, who co-created “The Loop,” an often hilarious comedy series FOX used and abused for two short seasons.
“I love Will so much and this being his first film, I wanted to be a part of it,” says Olsen, who played the wacky Sully on “The Loop.” “And there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be part of any project that he does. You’re lucky when you have a great communication with somebody and I know exactly what he’s going to say before he says it and I think it’s helpful in terms of creating an environment that’s right for doing good comedy.”
While the “Fired Up!” script is credited to a Freedom Jones, who has no previous credits and didn’t even get a bio in the movie’s press notes, anybody who watched “The Loop” will recognize that show’s rhythm and voice.
“I love how quick it is,” Olsen says of the movie’s frequently improvised patter. “I love the tendency fall a little bit outside of acerbic. I love Will and his writing style and it’s easy to get back into because there are a lot of similarities to how I am and how he writes.”
And if that weren’t incentive enough, Olsen’s lost track of the number of attractive cheerleaders he made out with for the movie.
“I have no idea. A lot. A lot of beautiful women,” he sighs. “And what’s in the movie is probably only 50 percent of the scenes that we shot. I was like, ‘This is getting repetitive. This is starting to feel like these guys might be a little bit creepy.’ And some of it’s in a montage now, so it’s not that way. But there’s definitely a lot of making out.”
“Fired Up!” is now in theaters.
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