Czech them out: Stars make `Eurotrip' cameos.

Tribune News Service

25 February 2004

Byline: Hanh Nguyen

LOS ANGELES _ In "Eurotrip," four American teens jaunt through London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Rome without leaving the comfort of Czechoslovakia. All these locations were shot in Prague and then simulated using green screen technology.

While promoting their newest film, writing and directing partners Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg and David Mandel reveal that despite shooting "Eurotrip" almost entirely in one place, they had remarkable luck in luring stars to make juicy cameos. Within the first 20 minutes of "Eurotrip," audiences are treated to the sight of a punked-out Matt Damon _ complete with shaved head, tattoos and piercings _ gyrating with "Smallville's" Kristin Kreuk on stage.

The filmmakers' secret? They simply asked the stars to appear in their film.

"We looked at the production schedules to see what other big movies were shooting in Prague and we saw, `Oh, here's some great actors who are actually going to be there. Maybe they'd do a day,' " explains Schaffer.

The unusual strategy worked. Other actors were also accosted on their way to weddings in Italy or, in the case of "Xena" star Lucy Lawless, on the way home to New Zealand. "Eurotrip" also boasts hilarious cameos by Jeffrey Tambor, Diedrich Bader, Joanna Lumley, Vinnie Jones, Fred Armisen and Steve Hytner.

"We didn't have the budget to start moving lots of people around," Schaffer adds. "Also, the Iraq war's going on and there's SARS, so there wasn't a strong desire to get on a plane."

Despite this dream casting, shooting almost exclusively in Czechoslovakia posed other challenges. Besides the usual difficulties of scouting locations to resemble other European cities, moving sets twice a day and compensating for rainy weather, the comedy team also had to overcome the language barrier.

Mandel recounts one raucous experience involving a bus full of soccer hooligans just outside of Pilsen _ appropriately, where the original pilsner beer is made.

"Just imagine being on a bus teaching 40 Czech extras to sing (Sheena Easton's) `Morning Train' through an interpreter," he says with a laugh.

"Eurotrip" is currently in theaters and earned $6.7 million in its debut weekend.