Seventeen Ė July, 2000
Winners Take All
Mena Suvari and Jason
Biggs, costars of the upcoming summer film Loser, have both gotten lucky
Written by Dina Sansing
Mena Suvari is happy to gush about the love of her life with
her friend and two-time costar Jason Biggs.†
Headed for a day of shopping at Fred Segal in Los Angeles, young
Hollywoodís favorite department store, the petite 21-year-old actress (sheís
5í4") towers over the road in her tan SUV, while Jason navigates as they cruise
down Melrose Avenue on this warm spring day.†
But before sheíll share the details of her whirlwind romance (she
recently exchanged vows with cinematographer Robert Brinkmann), Mena grills her
passenger: "I want the 411 on Jason Biggs, the big Hollywood heartthrob!"
Jason Biggs: I donít think Iíve told you this: I got myself
Mena Suvari: Really!†
How long has it been?
JB: Four months.
MS: Where did you
JB: At a party in
Westwood [CA].† We just started talking
and totally hit it off.† We clicked
immediately and have been inseparable ever since. †Sheís a year older than me.
JB: Yep, an older
MS: What does she
JB: Sheís a
writer Ė not a screenwriter, she writes short stories.
MS: Did she go to
JB: Yes, and now
sheís thinking about going back to get her M.F.A. in creative writing.
† Sheís brilliant.
nationality is she?
[Menaís new husband is also German.]
This breezy rapport is typical for the two stars, who met
while filming last yearís gross-out comedy hit American Pie and became
friends while teaming up for Loser, an underdog love story directed by
Amy Heckerling (Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High).
† Pieís success put them both on the
map, but that was just the beginning.†
Menaís turn as a young seductress in the Oscar-winning American
Beauty secured her a spot on many red carpets, while Jason, who made his
Broadway debut at age 13 in Conversations With My Father, has been
steadily working toward leading-man status.†
He recently portrayed a wanna-be player in Boys and Girls, which
also stars Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Claire Forlani, and heíll costar with
Christina Ricci in Prozac Nation, which started shooting in May.
† While both their careers may be soaring,
Jasonís social life hadnít been keeping up with the pace Ė until now.
† "I havenít had a serious girlfriend since I
moved to Los Angeles three years ago," admits the 22-year-old from Hasbrouck
Heights, New Jersey.† "In a way I
consider this my first real relationship."†
Heíd prefer to keep the juicy details private.
JB: Do you have
any great advice for me?† The last
relationship I had was in high school, and I was a completely different person.
MS: Well, weíre
in totally different situations, but [either way] you have to realize that
there will be times when itís really difficult, and you have to grow together.
JB: And thatís
part of the processÖ But at the same time, you donít want to jump the gun
because you want to enjoy what you have now.
† Robert and I have already noticed how much
[weíve changed] since we met.† It just
takes time and experience.
Mena admits she doesnít even remember first laying eyes on
her husband, whom she met while filming Sugar and Spice, a comedy
starring James Marsden and Marley Shelton (due out this fall).
† "Robert tells me about the first time he saw
me, and I didnít even notice him!"† Mena
says.† After a movie date followed by a
romantic walk around a lake in Minnesota, where they were shooting, Mena was
The actressesís parents were understandably shocked after
learning that their only daughter had secretly married a man sheíd known just
seven months.† "Of course, they
freaked," she admits.† "But they love
him and have accepted everything.†
Thatís just the way I decided to do it."
Mena, who is named after her Egyptian godmother, began her
career modeling for several small catalogs in Charleston, South Carolina,
before landing a part in a Rice-A-Roni commercial at age 14.
† Just before starting high school, her family
moved to Los Angeles, where her father, a psychiatrist, had accepted a job.
Adjusting to the new town wasnít easy.
† I came from this all-girls Catholic school
to a coed high school.† My skirts were
down to my knees and my shirts buttoned all the way up.
† I never went on any dates; no one ever asked
me out," she says.† "I was the dork from
Instead of spending weekends at parties or clubs, Mena
jump-started her career, making guest appearances on Boy Meets World and
Chicago Hope.† Movie roles
followed: Kiss the Girls, with Ashley Judd (1997); and Carrie II: The
Rage (1999).† Then came the part of
Heather, the choirgirl and object of Chris Kleinís affections in American
Pie, followed by the role of Angela in American Beauty.
† During that time, Mena also managed to
squeeze in three serious boyfriends.†
Looking back, the actress says her past relationships taught her a lot
about what she wanted Ė or didnít want Ė in the future.
† "I was always in situations [where my
boyfriend] would dominate me," Mena says over coffee at the Fred Segal
cafť.† "When I met Robert, he did a lot
of things that I appreciated, like opening the door for me or saying hi to my
mom and appreciating her.† He probably
didnít even realize that they were things that were never prominent [with my
Mena wonít brook any criticism about her decision to
marry.† "People can judge me for being
so young, but they have no idea what Iíve been through.
† Iíve been in a couple of bad
relationships.† Thatís why I know Iím
not missing anything."
Jason and Mena agree that, despite how glamorous their lives
may seem, finding your perfect mate in Tinseltown is no easy feat.
† "A lot of women put on an act [in order to]
date a Ďname,í" Mena points out.† Jason
agrees, and is happy to have found an exception. † "She was like a diamond in the rough. † Itís so great, itís almost scary."
On the subject of Menaís nuptials, Jason also has an
opinion: "Iíve seen them together, and I know that they are absolutely in love.
†What they have I want to have for
On the set:
Written by Kristen Kemp
The atmosphere on the Toronto, Canada, soundstage during the
final day of filming Loser feels sort of like a slumber party.
† Mena Suvari skips around the set wearing pink
pjís and fuzzy slippers.† Jason Biggs
isnít fazed by the deep freeze outside.†
Heís thrilled about the snow flurries Ė itís great weather for one of
his favorite sports, snowboarding.† In
fact, the wrap party is about to start, marking the end of three months of
14-hour workdays.† Despite the grueling
schedule, Biggs says he will miss everyone.†
Out of character, the stars are as chummy as they appear
on-screen.† Suvari is constantly teasing
Biggs.† "Itís been great getting to know
him Ė heís hilarious, creative and smart.†
Iíve made the best friends here," Suvari says, taking a sip of Perrier
in her makeup chair.† "Iíve become close
to Jason, my hairdresser, the costume designer and especially Amy [Heckerling,
Heckerling, 46, is considered cool by her cast: She wears
all black and is up on pop culture, partly because she has a 14-year-old
daughter.† She also has a knack for
turning her actors into stars.† She
first spotted Suvari in 1994, on an episode of Chicago Hope, and was
eager to have her read for the role of Dora.†
"Mena gave a wonderful audition," Heckerling says.
† "She was adorable, and the chemistry was
there."† The two have since become
friends; they adopted the sibling kittens used in the movie Ė part of Loser
takes place in a vetís office Ė and plan to have regular kitty catch-ups when
theyíre back in L.A., where they both live.†
Heckerling also raves about Biggs.†
"Heís going to be a big star," she says. † "Heís engaging and pulls every emotion out of himself."
Biggs is already in demand.†
He spent his downtime during Loser shooting Boys and Girls,
jetting between the Loser set in Toronto and the Boys set in L.A.
† "I havenít been getting much sleep," Biggs
admits.† But he says that his Dave
Matthews CDs helped pass the time on the seemingly endless flights.
† (Biggs, together with Suvari, Heckerling and
a few other castmates, even squeezed in a Limp Bizkit concert in Toronto.
† "We had an amazing time," Heckerling says.)
In Loser, Jason plays Paul Tennek, an out-of-place
Midwesterner at New York University, who falls for Dora Diamond (Suvari), a
beautiful student with a big crush on her English professor (Greg
Kinnear).† About his character, Biggs
says, "Heís got it rough.† I can relate;
Iíve had moments in my life where Iíve felt like the world was against me.
† But Iím really nothing like him."
He has, however, shared one experience with his on-screen
counterpart.† "I had a tough time at
NYU, too," he says.† "I was a freshman
there, and I was so lost."† After one
semester in 1996, Biggs dropped out to pursue his acting career (encouraged by
a Daytime Emmy nomination for his role as Pete Wendell on As the World Turns,
which he received while still in high school).
Despite his rising-star status, Biggs is considered very
down-to-earth and was often spotted playing Ping-Pong with the crew or eating
lunch with the stagehands.
Suvari spent some of her downtime on the set making beaded
jewelry for her Loser friends.†
"You know those bracelets with Austrian crystals that everyoneís been
wearing?"† she asks.
† "In stores, they cost sixty bucks!
† So I bought a bunch of different-colored
beads and leather strips and strung them myself."
Now, the wrap party is in full swing, and Biggs is turning
slices of pizza into boomerangs, aiming them at the few people who are shooting
the movieís final scene.† Suvari laughs
but steers clear of Biggsí flying pepperoni.†
"Hurry," he shouts.† "It will all
be gone soon."