Interview with Seth Rogen
Seth Rogen is the kind of guy who you can’t help but cheer for...and, okay, maybe hate a little. He’s 23 years old, but he’s already starred in two critically-acclaimed (if short-lived) TV series – “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” – and appeared in movies alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrell and Steve Carell. Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat with Rogen about the upcoming release of “The 40 Year Old Virgin” on DVD, his past and future work with Judd Apatow, and his pleasure at not having had a particular vegetable lodged in his rectum...oh, but I’ve said too much already.
Bullz-Eye: How’s it going?
Seth Rogen: What’s happening?
BE: How much press have you done today already?
SR: Um, not that much. I don’t know; it doesn’t seem that bad. A few...?
BE: Fair enough. Well, I’m sure you get this all the time, but...I’m a big fan of your work as Bob on that one episode of “Dawson’s Creek” that you did.
SR: Oh, wow! (Bursts into laughter) Man, I don’t know what to say about that! I never even saw that! I can safely say I’ve never seen a single episode of that show, including the one I’m in!
BE: (Laughs) Well, you can thank the Internet Movie Database for me knowing that bit of information.
SR: Exactly! Man, I’d better take a look at that...!
BE: I know I’ve read before where you’ve been described as “a pledge to the Frat Pack.” (Writer’s note: According to the website, http://www.the-frat-pack.com, the core members of the Frat Pack are Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and Owen and Luke Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Carell.) How do you feel about that, or do you think it’s just something clever a writer came up with...?
SR: I don’t know; I’m just glad I didn’t have to stick a carrot up my ass.
BE: Probably best for you in the long run, for your career, that you didn’t.
SR: Exactly. Because I hear frats make you do that.
BE: So I actually got to interview Judd (Apatow, director / co-writer of “The 40 Year Old Virgin) a few months ago...
SR: Oh, yeah?
BE: ...right before “Virgin” came out, and he could not stop raving about you.
SR: Oh, that’s nice!
BE: He said you showed everyone up as a writer, and that that was half the reason he hired you onto “The 40 Year Old Virgin”: so that he could have you on hand to touch up everyone’s jokes.
SR: Well, that’s very nice of him. I mean, I couldn’t say enough great things about him. He’s the reason I’m not a homeless crackhead right now. Probably.
BE: There you go.
SR: There you go. Or the reason that, if I choose to be one, I’ll be able to afford so much crack.
BE: True. Thanks, Judd!
SR: Yeah, exactly!
BE: So...”Freaks and Geeks.” Awesome show.
SR: Sweet! Thanks!
BE: I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone who was on the show at that time now ends up in everyone else’s current show.
SR: Yeah, exactly! It’s true!
BE: I don’t want to call it incestuous...
SR: It is!
BE: The bond must’ve been pretty much instantaneous between ya’ll.
SR: I mean, it really was. It was kind of the first legitimate thing a lot of us had really done, and the environment that Judd and Paul (Feig, the show’s co-creator) set was one of such camaraderie and working together and kind of communal attitude of making everything funnier and working on everything that it was just like a really bonding experience, and it was a big influence on all of our lives. I’m sure most of us who were...well, pretty much everyone is working, and I’m sure everyone is still talking about “Freaks and Geeks” also, so it just shows it was a huge thing for all of us.
BE: And then there was “Undeclared.” I know a lot of people have referred to it as “The Judd Apatow Curse,” the fact that, like “Freaks and Geeks,” it was cancelled right after the Museum of TV and Radio paid tribute to it.
SR: I know, exactly. That William S. Paley!
BE: Of course, you realize it could also be called “The Seth Rogen Curse,” since you were in both shows as well.
SR: I couldn’t agree more. I really could not agree more. But I will say this: Judd made several pilots throughout that time that didn’t even go to series that I wasn’t in, so I will give myself credit for getting his shows to air, but then getting them immediately cancelled.
BE: Fair enough. So it’s 50/50, then.
BE: And, then, I guess it was a stepping stone...well, actually, I was going to say “Freaks and Geeks” was a stepping stone to appearing in “Anchorman,” but, in-between, you were also in “Donnie Darko.”
SR: Yes, I was right in there.
BE: What was that like? It’s certainly become a cult classic.
SR: I know! It’s very weird that that happened. You know, honestly, I did that movie – I mean, my part in it is so minute – but I was kind of just around a lot, one of those things where I’m just caught in the background of a lot of shots, just, like, in the high school a lot. So I was there a lot. And I really had no idea what the movie was about! I didn’t get it at all! And I remember being at a party with the director (Richard Kelly) about halfway through shooting, and I was really drunk, and so was he, and I was just, like, “Dude, I don’t get it, man!” And he was, like, “I don’t think anyone’s gonna get it, man! I’m really scared!” It turned out great; I think it was just beyond me...and still is, to some degree! But it definitely makes sense on a much greater level now. It’s amazing. I knew it seemed good; I just didn’t understand why it was good. It just seemed like something interesting. It’s really funny to me that that turned into this huge cult thing, and that people in England are grafitti-ing “Donnie Darko” on walls. It’s great. I couldn’t be happier for Jake (Gyllenhaal) and Richard Kelly; those guys are great guys. I’m glad I was there to watch it, even though I had no clue what I was watching at the time!
BE: I see you did a stint writing for “Da Ali G Show.”
SR: Yes, I did.
BE: What was that like?
SR: It was amazing. I can’t say enough good things about that guy (Sacha Baron Cohen). He’s a genius, in my opinion. I was, like, a huge fan of the show the first season, and then I got an opportunity to write for it in the second season. I don’t think that happens very often, where you get to leap into something that you were a huge fan of. It’s great. I still see him around. I think he’s the funniest man alive. I can’t reiterate that enough. I really think he’s invented a new kind of comedy that no one else will ever be able to do.
BE: And, then, in “Anchorman,” you’re credited as Eager Cameraman.
SR: Eager Cameraman, yeah! And I didn’t even play it eager, that’s the funny thing. It was a very bold choice on my behalf, because it said eager in the script...but I went the other way with it.
BE: Now, when you were preparing for the role, in your head, did the character have a name?
SR: (Laughs) Uh, no. There’s one point where (Veronica Corningstone) yells, “Scotty!” But I think Christina Applegate just made that up.
BE: And, then, “The 40 Year Old Virgin.”
BE: Suddenly making the leap to major supporting role.
SR: Exactly. Well, I will say that I was a co-producer before I was a major supporting role. I had a very small supporting role first, but I knew a guy who was a co-producer, fortunately – me – and I was able to influence the size of my role.
BE: Is there any truth to the rumor that also taking the title of co-producer just means you do twice the work for half the money?
SR: I believe there was a little additional money, but when you’re 22 years old, any money is...well, basically, just the fact that I don’t have to have a real job is mind-blowing! (Laughs)
BE: I’m envious. So what was it like working on the film? Steve Carell, of course, had made a name on “The Daily Show,” then got I guess what you’d call a Hollywood break with “Bruce Almighty,” but did you still feel like there was a lot riding on whether people would know who he was?
SR: No! Not at all, actually. People in the comedy world had been fans of his for a long time, and I remember how, in “Bruce Almighty,” he stole a huge scene from Jim Carrey, which doesn’t happen very often, and then in “Anchorman,” he was stealing scenes from Will Ferrell, which doesn’t happen very often, and it was just clear that he was going to do something outrageously funny, that he was going to be the focus of the film. And I remember at the “Anchorman” premiere was the first time I heard of “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” and I just remember being, like, “GOD, do I want to have something to do with that!” And that was all I was thinking of that entire night! How do I get in on that? Because that is gonna be FUNNY!”
BE: When I talked to Judd, he was really excited about the fact that it seemed like it was going to be a great season for movies that were sort of dirty, because of “Wedding Crashers” coming out...but, then, when he went and saw “Wedding Crashers,” he was, like, “Omigod, our movie is SO much dirtier than this!”
SR: I know! You know, what’s funny is that I have not seen “Wedding Crashers.” I lie about this on an almost-daily basis, though, just to maintain my own relationships within Hollywood, but I haven’t seen it. But that’s what people said to me, that it’s not even dirty, but, uh, I like that...! I think it’s great! I’ve been a huge fan of filth for years, but I was also worried that it was also dirty, and, because they came out first, I didn’t want it to be, like, oh, sure, “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is dirty, but “Wedding Crashers” did that already! So I was thrilled when people started telling me that there wasn’t that much in it!
BE: I know a lot of people were pleased with “The 40 Year Old Virgin” that, even though it’s arguably dirty, it’s at heart sweet hearted.
SR: Yeah, y’know, when we approach these things, we approach them from an emotional standpoint, ‘cause we know that’s what the audience is actually tracking...and if that’s not there, you can have all the jokes you want, but it won’t be a good movie by any means, you know? So, yeah, we just sort of started with a sweet character, and that gave us the license to...well, like, I wouldn’t have been able to, wouldn’t have wanted to tell a story about a lady having sex with a horse unless I knew I was doing it with Steve in the room, because the only reason I was able to come across as that disgusting was because I knew it would be funny playing against his naive, virginal persona that he had. He was kind of a clean eye in the center of the filth storm, and I think that’s why it doesn’t just come across as, uh, horribly appalling! (Laughs)
BE: With the DVD, does the cast participate in the commentary? Or, actually, I guess the first question should be, is there commentary?
SR: Oh, yeah, there’s a good commentary with the whole cast and then some. There’s commentary for everything! Me and Judd did commentary for every deleted scene and, like, every extra. There’s commentary for the commentary!
BE: And I guess the last question is, what have you got in the pipeline? Because even the IMDb can’t be trusted 100%...
SR: Yeah, exactly. Well, um, I’m doing this movie right now with Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon, and Kate Hudson called “You, Me, and Dupree.” And I dunno, those guys are all nice, seems fun, and, uh, I hope it turns out well!
BE: Of course, with Owen Wilson in it, that’s only going to reinforce that whole “pledge in the Frat Pack” thing.
SR: Yeah, who knows? But, to me, Matt Dillon is the funniest person I’ve ever met in my entire life. I cannot get enough of that guy. He’s got some stories.
BE: See, that’s not something you’d necessarily expect to hear. I mean, he’s funny in “Singles”...
SR: And he’s really funny in “There’s Something About Mary.”
BE: Oh, yeah, I hadn’t even thought about that!
SR: Yeah, but he really is funny. Genuinely funny. In a way that not a lot of people really are. (Getting back on track) And, then, me and Judd are gonna try and do another movie in the summer.
BE: Do you make an appearance in...uh, I don’t know if it’s still being called “High, Wide & Handsome,” but it’s the Will Ferrell NASCAR comedy that Judd’s doing.
SR: Uh, no, you know, I don’t. I’m excited just to watch this one as an observer. But I’ve seen some dailies already, and I could not be more excited to see more of it. Sacha (a.k.a. Ali G) is in it, too.
BE: Alright, well, I’ll make Universal’s day and keep you on schedule, but it’s been great talking to you.
SR: You, too, man.
BE: I’m a big fan of everything you’ve done thus far...
SR: Hey, cool, thanks.
BE: ...and I plan to stay that way.
SR: Unless I disappoint you horribly.
BE: Right. So don’t let me down.
SR: I’ll try not to!
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