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Scott Pilgrim clip 1
Scott Pilgrim clip 1: Clip from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, featuring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Mae Whitman.
Cera falls for Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Scott Pilgrim, but before he can get the girl, he has to vanquish her seven evil exes. Cera falls for Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Scott Pilgrim, but before he can get the girl, he has to vanquish her seven evil exes. / Kerry Hayes, Universal Studios

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Awkward. Sensitive. Canadian.

Not exactly the formula for a leading man, let alone the star of an action-packed summer movie that could be the geek date hit of the season.

But Michael Cera, 22, is just that. The sweet and shy actor with a mop of brown hair is winning over Hollywood by playing, well, himself.

“I hope I'm a nice guy,” he says after chowing down on a meal of black bean soup and beet salad in Los Angeles. (Although that sounds very vegetarian and healthy of him, Cera promises that he does eat meat.) “I try to be — I don't know — I don't have a very good read on myself, to be honest.”

In his new film, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, opening next weekend, Cera must defeat a girl's seven evil exes before he can date her. In real life, though, the actor can recall only two scary ex-girlfriends. And he's not particularly worried about them coming at him with a flaming video-game sword.

“They've done permanent psychological damage to me,” he says, seemingly only half-joking. “That's what I'm more worried about, just the effects of that and how it manifests in my day-to-day life.”

So far, Cera has stayed true to his engagingly gawky persona on screen: the awkward teenager in TV's Arrested Development, the love interest in Oscar-nominated Juno, the unlikely cool guy in Superbad. Most actors like to separate themselves from their celluloid selves, but Cera seems not to mind the obvious similarities, turning an interview into a friendly chat in which he's as interested in you as you are in him. And coming off as maybe the most polite guy in Hollywood.

His native Canada still feels more like home than L.A., he says. But he's coming into his own, professionally and personally, in America. He has his favorite movie-theater haunts around Hollywood, and he has struck up friendships with Garry Shandling and Rivers Cuomo, frontman for rock band Weezer.

No big date nights yet at his L.A. place, Cera says. Instead, he often invites friends over to see the coolest aspect of his apartment: his new movie room, outfitted with a plush couch and a big screen. “I just go up and disappear in there and watch movies all day,” he says. “It's amazing. It's the best thing I've ever done.”

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