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Showbiz Today Star of Tomorrow
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Jon Abrahams co-starred in "Scary Movie" and had a Really Scary love scene in it (we won't go into details). The film recently became Miramax's biggest-ever financial hit, raising a lot of money while simultaneously elevating Abrahams's status as a rising talent.
Next, he co-stars in "Meet The Parents" with Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, and "Texas Rangers" with James Van Der Beek -- not bad for someone who's 22 and debuted just fives years ago in "Kids." Now, Abrahams has more than a dozen films to his credit.
CNN met with Abrahams at his favorite TriBeCa hangout in New York to talk to him about his career. And what about that allergy that almost kept him from accepting a role in a big new film?
CNN: When you agreed to make "Scary Movie," did you have any idea it was going to become what it did?
Jon Abrahams: I didn't want to believe it one way or the other. (Y)ou never know with movies ... and people were talking about it and saying that it was going to be a big hit, and this and that. But I didn't want to make a big deal about it. (I)t has far exceeded anything, anything I would have imagined it doing. It's amazing.
CNN: Do you think we'll be seeing "Scary Movie" get some Oscar nominations?
Abrahams: Well, I don't know about that; maybe a Silver Screw Award.
CNN: When you first saw the script, were you a little hesitant because of the gross-out humor?
Abrahams: No, not at all. I mean, it's (directed and written by) the Wayans brothers, and I grew up watching them and they are heroes of mine. As long as they were doing it, that was fine: That was all I needed to know.
CNN: You have a scene in the movie involving a chainsaw that you use on a body part. What was it like shooting that scene?
Abrahams: It was fun. It wasn't kind of as nerve-wracking as I thought it was going to be. It's the big sex scene at the end, and its very climactic, so ... I think that's the best way to put it, right?
CNN: Where a young woman loses her virginity to you in a most unusual manner.
Abrahams: Yes, yes -- a most explosive manner.
CNN: When you saw that scene, did you think, "How are we ever going to do this?"
Abrahams: No, not really. They kept adding little gags (to the script). There was a lot of stuff ... in there that got taken out that was more risque, I guess.
CNN: Was it as much fun making that movie as it appeared?
Abrahams: Absolutely. Keenan Ivory Wayans is just a super genius -- really intelligent, smart, really on top of things, and it was a pleasure. They gave us a lot of freedom, creatively, to come up with things on our own accord; if they thought it was funny, it would end up in the film.
CNN: For the those who haven't seen the movie, how would you describe it?
Abrahams: "Scary Movie is an all-out spoof of the teen genre horror films -- i.e. "Scream," "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (and) both the sequels. ... And then we've got a lot of other recent blockbuster young films - "The Matrix," "Usual Suspects," "Blair Witch Project," "Election"...
CNN: Do you think "Scary Movie," and its the popularity, could in some way change the direction of movie making?
Abrahams: I think what will happen is that people will really try to out-gross each other. ... You have it with "American Pie" and "Road Trip" and now "Scary Movie," and I think next summer and the years to come you are going to have a lot more raunchy material.
CNN: Are you a fan of that genre? Had you seen the "Scream" films?
Abrahams: I hadn't, actually. I mean, I grew up watching horror movies, but kind of more along the lines of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) and "The Night of the Living Dead" (1968). But I hadn't seen any of the new, kind of teen, you know, genre films.
CNN: Once you got cast in this film did you go back and rent them?
Abrahams: Once I got cast, they gave us all of them and we watched them a million times over.
CNN: The movie comes out, you go to the premiere, you're sitting in the audience. What are you thinking?
Abrahams: Seeing the film with a huge audience is just an amazing thing. It's like going to a spectator sport, people are literally like, "Ohhh!" in their seats.
CNN: Were you embarrassed at all?
Abrahams: No, I don't get embarrassed by stuff like that.
CNN: Your very first movie was "Kids." How old were you at that time?
Abrahams: Sixteen, the summer before my senior year in high school.
CNN: How did you get involved with that? Were you acting in high school?
Abrahams: I actually didn't want to be in "Kids." I wanted to work on it behind the camera. I wasn't looking to be a professional actor at all. I just sort of fell into all of this.
"I used to work at clubs when I was 15 in Manhattan, and there is a scene in "Kids" that takes place in a club where I worked and so I knew they were trying to cast all of these kids from downtown. I knew the director -- I had met him a couple of times -- and I kept asking to be, like, his assistant on the film. Then, one day after they kept giving me the run-around, I showed up with these kids to audition (with) them. ... And they ended up having me read with them ... so I got a small part in it. ... One thing led to another.
CNN: You stumbled into the job of movie star?
Abrahams: I fell into it. Which isn't to say it wasn't something I really liked, but it wasn't something I wanted to do professionally. Yeah, it was about six months later ... that this agent called me and ... I hadn't really thought about (acting) until that time. One of the first things that I went on was "Dead Man Walking" (1995) and I got cast in that, and that was such a great experience.
CNN: You have two big films coming out, one very soon: "Meet the Parents" with Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller.
Abrahams: It's not a huge part. I play DeNiro's and Blythe Danner's son, and basically Ben Stiller is going out with my oldest sister and we have a middle sister who is getting married. (W)e come home for the weekend, and Ben Stiller's never met the family before.
CNN: Were you a big fan of DeNiro's going into it?
Abrahams: Yeah, definitely. I grew up in the neighborhood he lives in, so he's always been kind of the neighborhood hero. So I always was aware of his presence as an actor and a personality.
CNN: After that, there's "Texas Rangers" coming out in early 2001.
Abrahams: Basically, it takes place in 1775 when the Texas Rangers were reinstated to ... get cattle thieves.
CNN: Did you know how to ride horses going into this?
Abrahams: I'd never been on a horse in my life. I'm allergic to them. I had to take a big cocktail of medicine to be able to do it and I had to ... make horseback riding second nature in, like, two days.
CNN: What are your favorite things to watch?
Abrahams: I like blaxploitation films -- "Coffy" (1973), "Truck Turner" (1974) -- that's my preference; a lot of films from the '70s.
CNN: What do you do when you're not acting?
Abrahams: I make music, I kind of started that a couple of years ago. ... I've always been into hip-hop music. ...
CNN: Do you sing?
Abrahams: I can croon a little bit but I don't sing.
CNN: Where would you like your career to go?
Abrahams: I like doing character work a lot. I kind of prefer that. ... I think its more interesting and more eclectic. ... I just try and be careful and make good choices, try and do something different every time.
Be very afraid: Avoid unfunny 'Scary Movie'
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