Reno 911’s Thomas Lennon came up with an all new quirky character for 17 Again. He plays Matthew Perry’s best friend, a sci-fi geek who became rich as an adult. When his friend reverts to his high school self, it takes a battle of epic movie memorabilia to convince him that real magic has occurred.
Thomas Lennon on 17 Again
“We rehearsed that scene for about a month every single day in the parking lot of an Arby’s in Hollywood with sticks,” Lennon said. “Zack really, really hurt me pretty badly one day on the shoot nailing me in the head. I think it was just a warning, just a reminder. I wasn’t that bright to begin with before that injury. Insurance says I can’t do anything about it.”
It helped Lennon’s character to have a cool friend in high school. That might be another fiction of Hollywood. “As an actual nerd who played the cello, wore a lot of tinted Clearasil on my face and bow ties, I never had the sort of actual Zac Efron type take me under his wing, which would have been a wonderful experience. I’m sure I would have done better with the ladies. But no, I was mostly flying solo with the cello and the bow ties. I did not have this kind of actual friendship. It would have been nice.”
Lennon’s character speaks Elvish, but legal issues kept him from speaking authentic Tolkien language in the film. “The Elvish is actually an ancient form of Irish because Elvish is a registered trademark of the Tolkien family and you can’t use it. So what we’re speaking is an ancient form of Gaelic or Irish. The way I prepared is I had it on an iPod. I listened to it day and night for weeks leading up to the scene and then I got there and Melora Hardin hadn’t worked on it at all. So, she had hers written on the plate in front of her.”
Efron was modest, but Lennon sang praises of his professional behavior above and beyond the call of duty. “The day that struck me the most was the day that Zac came back. He took one day off to almost die from an appendicitis and then came immediately back to work the next day like at 8 a.m. and that scene is the scene in the courthouse where he reads the letter to Leslie’s character. I just thought, wow, that’s unbelievably impressive because he literally came basically from the hospital that night to the set that morning and did that scene, the courthouse scene at the end of the movie that’s I think so incredibly moving and that’s something that will always stick around with me.”