Actor Seth Green’s all grown up

After a lifetime in the entertainment business, Seth Green’s career is finally taking off. An ’80s child actor who worked with the likes of Jodie Foster, Rob Lowe, and Woody Allen, Green has been waiting a long time to make it into the big leagues.

“I’ve had so many ups and downs that it’s given me a realistic perspective of show business,” Green says. “When you look back at your childhood, you’re aware of who you were and what you’ve been through, but you can’t relate to it anymore.”

Because Green has only recently found his niche playing goofy, sarcastic teenagers, few know that the thespian has been active on screen since birth. Literally. He was the star of a natural childbirth ad campaign back in 1974.

Which would make Green 29. Yep, the redheaded heartthrob from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is almost over the hill. His youthful looks and 5’4″ stature have made it easy for Green to play various teenager roles in movies like Can’t Hardly Wait, Idle Hands, and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and its sequels. However, Green thinks it might be time to head in a different direction.

“I don’t think it’s realistic to keep playing a teen now that I’m almost thirty,” Green says. “If I come across a role that will be a challenge, I’ll take it. I want to keep growing as an actor.”

Which is just what he’s trying to do with his new film, The Italian Job. Co-starring Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, and Charlize Theron, the movie is a fast-paced, big-budget remake of a 1969 British classic. While the original was more of a caper comedy, its successor, which opened May 30, is aiming to become a Hollywood blockbuster. But Green isn’t concerned about filling the original’s shoes.

“I’m not nervous because we weren’t remaking it so much as taking elements to create a totally new film – it’s not British and it’s more of an action film,” Green says. “The original is a national treasure over in England. They might get upset about it. But if you don’t like our version, hey – you’ve still got yours.”

Green has been waiting several years to work with Wahlberg. “We met like six years ago when he was doing Boogie Nights,” Green says. “We said we’d really like to do something together someday so I was so excited when I saw he was in this film.”

In fact, Green was eager to work with all his Italian Job co-stars. “It’s a great cast,” he says. “I got so excited whenever I got to tell people who I was starring in this film with.”

The movie is a departure from Green’s previous work, for which he is best known as Scott Evil, the resentful son of mad scientist Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) in the Austin Powers series. In The Italian Job, Green got the chance to do hardcore action sequences including some dangerous stunts. “The boat chase scene was scary,” Green says. “We almost got decapitated a few times.”

Lately, Green has also been seen on television quite a bit. Besides “Buffy,” Green has been featured on the shows “Greg the Bunny,” “That 70’s Show,” and “Punk’d.” The latter is a “Candid Camera”-style MTV program showcasing celebrities getting tricked or embarrassed.

“I’ve gotten so much reaction from that,” Green says of his appearance on “Punk’d.” “They get all these celebrities to come on the show for free and they can air it a million times a week. It must be the cheapest show in the world to produce and probably makes the most money.”

With upcoming roles in the films Party Monster and Scooby-Doo 2, Green continues his search for parts that will stretch his acting ability and get him on the Hollywood A-list.

Green jokes, “I keep trying to bug Scorsese into working with me, but no luck yet.”