Shannon Elizabeth revealed her feelings on going nude in American Pie recently as part of the Skins: A History of Nudity In The Movies documentary and she doesn't seem to have any regrets about choosing to appear in the movie. She also shared that she actually improv’d a little during her nude scene in the movie, including one scene that she felt made more sense for her character than what was in the script. It’s not uncommon for comedies to feature their share of improvised moments, but not necessarily in scenes featuring nudity.
In the American Pie-oriented interview for Skins, Shannon Elizabeth recalled being given the freedom to add a few moments to the script, mentioning one moment in particular in her topless scene she added because she felt like it was something a woman might do in real life.
We added some stuff that actually wasn’t in the script. So when I walk to the mirror, and I’m topless and I’m looking at myself, I kind of look at my stomach and think I’m not happy with the way I look, because that’s what girls do.
Shannon Elizabeth recalled the detail she added to a scene that certainly went down in cinema history. If you don’t remember or haven’t seen American Pie in a while, you can see her homage to the famous scene below, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.
These days her topless scene, which also involved a subplot with a computer camera capturing the footage and decimating it out to the rest of the student population, is recalled for maybe not being the most sensitive moment in the film. Jason Biggs previously said that while that portion of the scene does not hold up, he does remember no one was on the lookout for internet cameras and how they could be used nefariously at the time. And really, in terms of all the sex-related scenes that had to be filmed for the comedy, it may have been Biggs and not Shannon Elizabeth who had the rawest deal.
Shannon Elizabeth also recalled in the documentary that she is grateful for the work she put into American Pie and said the role helped her to get a jumpstart in the business. It even gave her a multi-picture deal. These days, Shannon Elizabeth said she’s not opposed to nudity; rather, she likes to take a look at the project on hand and whether or not the role she’s going for makes sense for nude scenes.
So if something comes in now, it is important what kind of project it is, and then what kind of nudity is it? Is it important for what the script’s about, or is it gratuitous and they’re just throwing it in there to get some kind of a rating?
American Pie came out all the way back in 1999, but it spawned four sequels, three of which Shannon Elizabeth appeared in. The franchise ran until 2012’s American Reunion. Meanwhile, Shannon Elizabeth has gone on to appear in a slew of other movies. Most recently she popped up in Kevin Smith’s 2019 film Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (she’d also been in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in 2001). She’s still working steadily and her career trajectory may have been very different if she hadn’t landed that role in American Pie.