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Michael Vartan Reflects on His Character’s Romance in ‘Never Been Kissed’: It Was ‘Completely Inappropriate’

Drew Barrymore and Michael Vartan in Never Been KissedSuzanne Hanover/20th Century Fox

They’ve come so far! It’s been two decades since Michael Vartan’s Never Been Kissed character, Sam, fell for Drew Barrymore’s Josie Geller, and now the 50-year-old actor is reflecting on his role in the film.

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“I don’t know if someone who had a darker disposition at the time, maybe the creep factor would have intensified it a bit,” Vartan told Page Six in a story published on Tuesday, April 9, about getting cast as a high school teacher who falls for Barrymore’s character who was posing as a student. “But, if I’m a 30-year-old man and I think this girl is 17, it’s completely inappropriate.”

The Alias alum added: “I don’t think he lusted for her. It certainly wasn’t a physical thing. I mean, obviously she’s beautiful, but I think … he just sort of fell for her as a human being. He’s just really taken by her spirit and her soul and, you know, maybe deep down inside he felt like there’s no way this girl is 17, but on the surface, a teacher hitting on a student of any gender for that matter who is underage is completely inappropriate.”

Michael Vartan smiles while serving as Celebrity Guest of Honor on the Los Angeles Kings’ “Hockey Night in L.A.” broadcast before the game between the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center on February 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Adam Pantozzi/NHLI via Getty Images

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Though Vartan went on to have a booming career in the film industry, the Monster-in-Law star was a newbie when he was given a shot in the 1999 teen drama.

“I had never wanted to be an actor ever. I had no idea what I was doing,” Vartan recalled to Page Six of being on set. “I remember the first week of shooting, I was concentrating more on not forgetting my lines or vomiting on Drew’s shoes rather than doing actual creative work because I was so nervous and I wanted to do so well.”

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Vartan also gushed over Barrymore, 44, who fought for him to get the role. “[Drew] showed up on the first day of shooting in an old, beat up, white Volvo and from that moment on she was my hero,” he said. “She was just one of the sweetest, nicest people and treated everyone equally, which [is] the way it should be, but unfortunately it isn’t always the case.”

The French actor also revealed that he still has the wrap gift the Santa Clarita Diet actress gave him — a little fern!

“Twenty years later this fern is in my backyard and it is 25 feet tall and it has grown roots. It looks like a full-on tree now,” he said of the once tiny plant that he named Drew. “And I’ve kept it. Believe it or not, a single bachelor kept a plant alive in his apartment.”

He added: “I always swore wherever I go I’m taking this fern with me because it was just such a sweet gesture and I really believed that that movie was so instrumental in me having any kind of career. So that little fern that’s turned into this beautiful tree is very special-meaning to me.”

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