INT: Seth Rogen
Seth Rogen is currently filming an untitled mall cop comedy (possibly titled OBSERVE AND REPORT) and our man Sturdy (he of C'mon Hollywood fame) was on hand to observe and report on the proceedings. While that full report is forthcoming, we've got an extra bonus for you today. A candid chat with Rogen about all sorts of things from his upcoming movies to "The Simpsons" to Grand Theft Auto IV.
Consider this interview like a B-side to a forthcoming single. Of course this is a pretty long B-side, but you get the drift. I think it's clear after watching this that Seth Rogen really is like you and me. Except with lots more money. Check it out below and thanks to Sturdy for the crack reporting!
How do you feel that your job in a movie drives the comedy, like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS?
In PINEAPPLE EXPRESS it was just kind of what's a weird job we haven't seen a lot of that you could fathomably smoke weed all day while doing. We didn't know. I honestly have no f*cking clue what a process server does in real life. We could be completely off the mark. We could be 100% wrong but in the writing of the movie, it seemed to work. It seemed to make sense. It was a somewhat organic way of getting me outside Gary Cole's house to witness the murder. That's really all we were - - I don't think the words - - and then we just thought it would be a funny joke that Franco never really got what I did. We thought that was also kind of funny. I guess it serves a different role in every movie you're doing.
How did Franco do as the Jew?
He was good. He's actually half Jewish so he knows a lot of the slogan. He knows the jargon. He says bubby convincingly. It worked well.
Been sensitive to stuff on the internet?
I read a lot of - - I mean, I just get bored. I read a lot of that. I read a lot of the web pages you guys write for.
It didn't used to be about you though.
No, yeah, you're right. And it still isn't for months on end which is great.
Are you writing something right now?
We're working on THE GREEN HORNET and writing a "Simpsons" episode.
How do you get into that fold?
We call "The Simpsons" and ask if we can write an episode. Evan actually met James L. Brooks at a party and James expressed that he really liked SUPERBAD so we thought, "There's our in. We can ask them to write a 'Simpsons'."
No because we haven't even written it yet and then it takes a while to animate, so next season.
Do you have an outline?
Yeah, we have an outline. We've started writing the script. I don't think I'm allowed to tell you what it's about though. "The Simpsons" will sue me.
For two seasons away?
I honestly don't know. I don't know exactly how that works. They just told us to try to get them the script over the next couple weeks and then I assume it goes to animation so I don't know. Maybe it would be next season. I really don't know how it works.
Do they assign you a story?
We went in and pitched them like five ideas and surprisingly, they hadn't done some of them. Yeah, we all kind of settled on one in the meeting and then we went out and wrote an outline and they gave us notes on it, we rewrote that one.
Can you write in their voice?
If there's one thing I'm familiar with it's "The Simpsons." Yeah, I don't think that's going to be difficult. If anything, it's hard not writing like "The Simpsons."
Did you write a part for yourself?
Yes, I am expected to be in the episode.
No, as a character.
Writing DRILLBIT TAYLOR for teens, would you try that territory again?
I mean, GREEN HORNET is PG-13. That's an action movie. You can do anything violence-wise, so it actually does not affect it in any way shape or form that it's PG-13. Maybe. I wouldn't rule it out but it's definitely, when trying to write something that's really relatable and kind of about people going through things that everybody goes through, in my head it's easier to do that in an R rated movie just because people say f*ck in real life.
How is your schedule?
I mean, it's mostly decided by a team of people and you know, I'm busy. There's a lot of sh*t to do. I do nothing as often as I can but often, you see I'm doing - - like the week I get back, I'm just trying to think what I have to do. I've got to go record for MONSTERS VS. ALIENS. I've got to shoot the poster for this movie. There's just always things we have to do and we just do it.
What do you know about the next Judd movie?
I know everything about it. I've read the script and given notes on the script. I'm well versed in the next Judd movie. Someone printed something that was pretty interesting today on one of your web pages.
Yeah, where'd you get that from?
Possibly a MUNICH shout out?
Yeah, yup, that's something I've heard too.
What was it about Eric?
I actually had nothing to do with the casting, with his name coming up. I didn't even bring that up. Judd had a lot of strong choices, a lot of strong notions going in. I think soon there'll be like an official release of the entire cast which has some really cool people in it that I think people will be excited to see working with us.
And familiar faces too?
Yup, you'll definitely see a few familiar faces.
What type of character do you play?
I play a young, struggling stand-up comedian who's not that funny. So yeah, not too far.
Does he play a lesbian bar?
No, that's not in the script actually. We should put that in though. That was the first place I did standup.
Is it hard to not be funny?
No. I don't know. It's actually, we are supposed to be writing two types of standup jokes. It's funny because we're supposed to be writing good ones and not so good ones. I've got a sh*t load of not so good ones.
Does Adam play a mentor to you?
There may be a mentor type dynamic there which we're all very familiar with. You know, Judd, Garry Shandling really mentored him a lot. Judd really mentored me a lot. Now I'm kind of helping usher in this new group of guys. I wouldn't say mentoring them but whoever kind of gets their foot in the door first kind of opens it for the rest of the group. Yeah, I'd say that aspect of the story we all heavily relate to.
Do you love the DVD extras?
Yeah, I think DVDs are great. I'm the first guy to get the DVD and watch every f*ckin' lame thing that most people probably never look at in a million years.
The art gallery?
Yeah, exactly. Like they've got SIN CITY all green screen? I'm the guy that watches that sh*t. To us, it's for fans. It's for people who are really interested in the process. Most people aren't but some people are and we figure they should be taken into consideration too. Yeah, I mean, I was actually really inspired by the DVDs of guys like Robert Rodriguez and those guys who just put in everything to say like here's exactly how we do this. There's no mystery to it. There's no air of secrecy. I'm against that. Kevin Smith is really secretive with his stuff and I'm kind of trying to convince him to not be like that so much. I just don't get what it gains you. If I gave one of you a DVD of PINEAPPLE EXPRESS right now, nothing really implies that it will make any less money ultimately. If anything, it gets more people talking about it, I think. He, there were actors in the movie who didn't read the script for ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO and you could literally go on my iPhone right now and download the PINEAPPLE EXPRESS script from IMBD in 35 seconds. I don't think, I personally don't think it makes a big difference. I know I'm a movie fan. I love to go out and look at that stuff. Before I was a writer, I would actively seek out unmade movie scripts and read them and compare them with their final product, so I'm all for that stuff being out there just in the hopes that other people will make movies I like.
And PINEAPPLE is really good.
Yeah, I think ZACK AND MIRI is too so I donít get the whole secrecy about all of it.
With DVD director's cut, which do you see as the canon version?
The theatrical version to me. I'll be honest, we basically get final cut on our movies. I can't think of one instance where the studio has made us take something out or put something in that we didn't want to take out or put in. So the movie as you see it in the theaters is 100% how we want it to be. If anything, we get pressured to add stuff onto the DVDs just because they want to slap that sticker on it that says, "with an additional 25 f*ckin' million minutes of sh*t we didn't think was good enough to put in the movie in the first place." So yeah, to me, it was actually kind of a fight on PINEAPPLE EXPRESS in that we really didn't cut much. There's no scenes that are cut altogether. There's little bits here and there so we were kinda struggling to find enough material for the studio to be able to say, "Look, there's extra shit on there" because it's 100% how we want it to be. If we wanted extra sh*t in there, we would have put it in there. So we kind of had to finesse it a little bit. There is extra stuff ultimately. I think there are funny jokes but I don't think it's - - I honestly don't think it makes the movie better. I think if you're a movie fan, again, it's interesting to see what else was in there, what they could have added but I'm always trying to push for it to be put under a separate section. I don't think it should be put in the movie. I think it should be deleted scenes as its own special feature on the DVD. You can watch them if you want but if you don't want to, you get the movie exactly how you first enjoyed it.
What have you been watching on DVD lately?
Well, it's funny. It's really interesting acting in a movie that I'm not writing or producing in that I get a sh*t load of time in my trailer to watch a lot of satellite TV which I normally don't get. What have I been watching on DVD? I've been going to the theater. I live a block away from the theater so it's great. I saw SPEED RACER. I saw IRON MAN. I liked SPEED RACER. No one else did.
I really fuckin' loved it. Yeah, I don't get it. Really, I want to see it again. I saw INDIANA JONES and then SPEED RACER the next day and the level of creativity that went into SPEED RACER in my mind versus the level of creativity that went into Indiana Jones was just not even a comparison. Every shot of SPEED RACER, any one frame of SPEED RACER I felt like had more creative energy pumped into it than any shot in Indiana Jones. And I like those movies. I'm not a guy who hates Steven Spielberg. I'm a big fan of his generally speaking but yeah, I loved SPEED RACER. I was kinda shocked. I got it I guess in that it might have thrown people for a loop and the plot was maybe a little too complicated for kids to really grasp but it was made for 25-year-old potheads. I don't know how many of us there are.
You do a lot of voice work.
KUNG FU PANDA's pretty good.
Do you enjoy that in between other projects?
I do. It's a lot of fun. I like to do movies that I'd go see and I do go see all those CG movies. I like the visuals of it. I think they're - - it doesn't matter to me that they're really aimed towards younger people. They're just kind of impressive technical fetes and to me, I get a kick out of just hearing my voice coming out of something that some f*ckin' nerd in San Francisco spent four million man hours trying to create on the computer somewhere. So yeah, and it's funny because it's the exact opposite of making a movie in a weird way in that 100% of the attention is on you and your performance. There's no extras, there's no set, there's no lights, there's no camera. It's just you saying the lines. There's not even other actors. So yeah, I really enjoy it. It really feels like just playing kind of and again, I've seen 10 minutes of MONSTERS VS. ALIENS and it's f*cking insane. I just get such a kick by the fact that I'm in that movie and yeah, that someone put that much effort into that.
Are you planning anything like the SUPERBAD drawings for this movie or PINEAPPLE?
We just do more d*ck drawings. Does it have to tie in? No, I mean, with SUPERBAD it seemed to have a very organic - - we're not guys, we don't really care about the money, we're not one to just kind of find things to commercialize and sell, but to us that was just something that we would have wanted. As movie fans, yeah, I want nothing more than a big book of dick drawings, or a little book but whatever size it is, so far we haven't really come up with anything for the other movies. Again, we don't want it to seem like we're just kind of shilling our product. If it's organic for the movie then we'll do it.
PINEAPPLE could have action figures.
Yeah, they could have action figures. We've actually been talking about that, yeah. That's something, apparently they want to make action figures for movies like THE DARK KNIGHT and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. Not so much your $20 million pot movie.
Kevin Smith does a lot of memorabilia.
He does, he shills his sh*t like no tomorrow. He said they're not going to make toys out of this one. But if they do THE GREEN HORNET, then I get a toy out of that.
An indie toy company might pick up PINEAPPLE.
Yeah, that's true. They might. I want a Kubrick made of me. That's all I want. I want that more than anything in the world. I don't know, gotta call Japan. It's an expensive phone call but I want one.
Will you come to Comic Con?
Yeah, our whole press junket is at Comic Con actually. We'll be there for like five days or something.
Like SUPERBAD last year?
Yeah, pretty much. We're doing a screening and a Q&A and we've got our junket there and we've got a big f*ckin' panel in that giant, giant room.
Can you walk around at Comic Con?
No, I can. What's funny is people don't come up to me that often and it drives Jonah crazy. We were just at the MTV Awards and it happened 100 times. We'll be together and everyone comes up to him and no one comes up to me. And it's the greatest thing. I don't know what it is and he went so far as to ask me that. One guy went up right up to him and was like, "Could I take a picture?" He's like, "Why the f*ck, did you not see him? Why didn't you ask him?" He goes, "I don't know, I thought I would ask you."
You were more incognito?
No, that's not it. I don't know. Jonah's shorter, he's a little more accessible.
Jonah's working on a script with you and him as brothers?
Yeah, that's something he's been writing for a while. I don't know if he's ever finished it. MIDDLE CHILD. STEP BROTHERS might step on that a little bit. I don't know how many movies about two curly haired guys as brothers you can have. But I would love to do that. I think it's a really funny - - I read a draft of it a little while ago, six months ago maybe and it was really funny. Maybe one day.
Is Zack any better at making a porno than your Knocked Up character was at making a porn site?
Yes, I think he is. It's way easier to make a porno than a porn web page, I'll tell you that much. Me and you could make a porno in 10 minutes. On my iPhone. A web page would take, well one of you guys probably 10 minutes but for me it would take a while.
Stephen Chow's name keeps coming up for GREEN HORNET.
It does. He's someone, you know, until you get an official green light, the studio won't spend any money. It's hard to get an actor without any money but he is someone that yeah, we would love to have him. The version of the script that ultimately we've written is a very intense action movie but the relationship between THE GREEN HORNET and Kato, a lot of comedy comes from that. At first actually we weren't even sure going in whether or not we could be more of a Jet Li type of guy who maybe isn't the funniest guy in the world but is physically very impressive or whether it would be more of a Stephen Chow type guy who can do martial arts but also clearly has a sense of humor on him. In the version that we've made, it seems like a Stephen Chow type guy would be more suitable for the role. But yeah, again, until they officially green light it, it's hard to make any of those decisions. We have been meeting directors and stuff though, even though we haven't green lit it. Me and Evan just kind of took it upon ourselves to begin the conversations with people. I'm really excited. It seems like it really might happen.
No one knows what to expect.
Because no one knows a g*d damn thing about THE GREEN HORNET.
Does he rely on Kato for the action or do they share?
It's them sharing the action but I would say the story has something to do with them working out their relationship exactly. I would say in a way it's your quintessential story about a hero and his sidekick. That's what really initially drew us to it is we always thought that was kind of a funny dynamic and a funny relationship. No movies really did that except BATMAN AND ROBIN. No movies did that well. So it's something that for years, me and Evan had actually kind of been toying with this notion of a movie that really explores the hero/sidekick relationship and what is a hero without a sidekick. What is a sidekick without a hero? It's actually a dynamic that applies to many real life situations, a lot of working dynamics, a lot of boss and their underlings. That's what really initially drew us to it because the one thing people say when you say THE GREEN HORNET is Bruce Lee, Kato. He's the only sidekick who's way more known than he is.
Who even knows who played the Hornet?
Exactly. Van Williams. I know but exactly. That is definitely part of what the movie is ultimately.
What's the hold up?
It's more just us finishing a newer draft of the script and kind of the timing that they do with these things. You might hear something soon.
Any Jewish jokes in that one?
There actually is. [LAUGHTER]
Were you writing it as a tentpole or mid budget?
We don't think about the money at all. When we're writing a script, the only way we can do it is to just write exactly what it is we would want to see if we went to a movie. When we wrote PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, we did not know whether it would be a $100 million movie or a $27 million. Ultimately it was a $27 million movie but that didn't affect the way we wrote it. It was more going in after and kind of taking things out but ultimately, we did all the action that we wanted in that. That being said, this seems like it would be more in the $70-100 million world but again, we just write these things thinking what movie do we want to go see? What would we throw down our money for? What trailer would we watch and say, "That's the f*cking movie I'm running too! That's the movie I'm standing in line for right now." Those are the movies we want to make.
Will you go for another indie director?
That's the question. What do you think? I don't know. That's the argument. We don't know. We've been meeting with people in both sides of that, in both worlds I would say. That ultimately is the real question. Do you get a guy who does action really well and who's done that before or do you get a guy who's never done action but can bring something unique to that style movie? We don't know yet. Until we get the script out to people, we're kind of letting their response to what we write be the dictator. Some will read it and be more psyched than the other guys and that'll be the guy we go with.
Is generating a script with Evan different now than when you were 13?
Yeah, way different. We write in a much nicer environment, I'll tell you that much. Yeah, we've definitely refined our writing process a lot. It's easier every time. GREEN HORNET, it just flew out of us. It couldn't have been an easier movie to write I would say, probably because we'd been ruminating or marinating on it for almost a year by the time we actually sat down to write the screenplay. Don't tell Sony that. But yeah, it's definitely become a much more refined process. We outline a lot better now and we know where to start with the emotions and the simple kind of relatable story and then build from there as opposed to starting with like, "There's a car chase where a guy's foot goes through the window." It's a lot harder to write a movie starting there and working backwards to find a story. Now we start with the story.
Are you a 9 to 5 writer?
Yeah, we are, when possible. I mean, when I'm making a movie, it makes it a little more difficult but yeah, I'll go over to his house and we'll write pretty much from nine to five. Neither of us, we both love writing but we both love sitting on our asses doing nothing more so we do it in a way where we get as much time to do that as humanly possible. We also both have girlfriends so we can't just - - before we would write from 10 to three in the morning. That doesnít fly.
The foot gets a great reaction because nobody knows it's not blood.
Yeah, exactly. Nobody knows. I like to hear people say, "How can they show all that blood in the f*ckin' movie trailer?" It's funny how that works. I didnít even think about that until I overheard someone say that actually. Yeah, it's slushy.
Are you open ended after the Judd movie?
Yeah, I mean, if we make THE GREEN HORNET, it would probably shoot sometime after that, in the months after that so I'm kind of leaving that slot open, being hopefully optimistic I guess.
And we'll hear something soon?
You might. I don't know.
I don't know. I don't know exactly what their plan is and again, I honestly don't know 100% if the movie is gonna be made. But, I can say that we've been getting good indicators that it is and we've heard that they really like the first draft that we've turned in.
How long ago was that?
Around three weeks ago, maybe a little more than that. I was here when we sent it so sometime throughout the last month maybe. But then it goes through a few people before it gets to the people that actually make the decisions, you know.
Was it a long script?
It's actually really short. It was 103 pages or something like that. But in rewriting it, it's already up to like 109 pages or something like that but it's still relatively. We like a short script. To us 106 pages is the perfect script length.
Are you meticulous describing action?
We describe the stuff that we know we want basically. PINEAPPLE was a really helpful educational process for that in that some of the action we way overwrote. Basically, all of it we way overwrote and we learned that we didnít need to do that. It's good in some ways like the fight at Red's house, the fact that we overwrote it made it that it's basically punch for punch how it was in the script. But the big shootout at the end of the movie, we could have just wrote, "Then a giant shootout happens." "Three guys descend from the ceiling, four come from the left with machine guns unloading rounds, three more come in from the right side as another man comes down from the top." None of that was necessary so we've kind of learned where you need to be specific and where you don't need to be so specific but I'd say in reading it you get a pretty good sense of what you will see on screen.
How challenging to write action?
I mean, the movies that I grew up on were not comedies for the most part I would say. They were, but my mother's favorite movies were DIE HARD and TOTAL RECALL and UNDER SIEGE I remember seeing in the movie theater when I was way too young to see it. I remember seeing LETHAL WEAPON 2 in the movie theater. So those are my favorite types of movies really. So it's not hard at all to write action. It's really fun for us to just, we try to be innovative with it. I see every single action movie that comes out so we're constantly thinking what do we like, what do we not like, what have we just never seen before? Our goal is to always make it just, PINEAPPLE obviously had budgetary restraints but with GREEN HORNET, it's really our goal to show people action that they've never quite seen before.
What exactly is doing nothing for you?
Right now it's Grand Theft Auto IV. My nothing evolves based on whatever video game has been most recently released. I've played it for like three hours total. I'm just in. I'm just getting into it. It's in LA. I don't have an Xbox here. I hear it's great. Me and Evan used to play it on PSP all the time.
Did you talk about improv with Kevin before you came in?
Yeah, I made it clear.
He's known for sticking to every comma and colon.
I just told him if that was how it was, I just couldn't do the movie. To me, it's just not funny when you do that. It hurts the comedy. Although I love Kevin Smith movies and he's literally one of the reasons I first wanted to be a writer, I feel like things evolve and change and now people are used to a more naturalistic delivery style and more loose, improvisational feel. I just told him this is how we have to do it. It will seem outdated if we don't do it like this. I won't be as funny as I can be if we don't do it like this. The whole movie won't be as funny if you don't do it like this, especially other people. He hired Craig Robinson who's one of the best improvisers I've ever met in my life so I said to him, "You can't hire Craig and not have him improvise." He was totally cool with it. He went into the movie wanting to make a movie differently. It was very discussed. The first conversation we had about it was we need options, we need to improvise. If one joke doesn't work, it'd be helpful to have another.
So he wanted to make a Kevin Smith movie that wasn't a Kevin Smith movie?
But it is a Kevin Smith movie but we didn't want it to be limited by the Kevin Smithyness of it. We wanted that to be the jumping off point for which to build.
Do you think this'll be a comeback for him?
Yeah, I honestly haven't seen all the movies that he made recently. I never saw, what was that one, JERSEY GIRL? I've only seen parts of CLERKS II, in the trailer.
Does he know this?
He definitely knows I haven't seen JERSEY GIRL. And yeah, I hope, I mean, none of his movies have made that much money and I hope, just for his sake, it'd be nice if he gets a big hit. That just makes you feel good knowing a lot of people wanted to pay to go see your movie. So yeah, ideally, it'll be as successful as our other movies have been and will be received by his fans the same way that his movies have been received.
What kind of guy is Zack?
Zack is kind of a dirty, lazy, somewhat apathetic guy who is looking for something to motivate him and in making a porno, he finds that something.
The YouTube video?
Yeah, we did that and it took less time to film that than it did to watch it.
Do you have other plans over the months?
For ZACK AND MIRI? Yeah, I think there's other things. I assume there'll be more trailers and stuff like that, maybe stuff incorporating some actual footage from the movie. Again, I'm trying to work with Kevin also in kind of trying to share some of what has worked for us marketing-wise.
You kill with the viral stuff.
Yeah, we've had some pretty good luck with some of that stuff. Our PINEAPPLE trailer seemed to play really, really, really well. We actually got the same company to come in and do the ZACK AND MIRI trailer. We're kind of trying to help out with it.