To read this interview properly, imagine Seth Rogen laughing after every single answer he gives. The guy has a great laugh, and he loves to use it.
Rogen is an alum of my all-time favorite TV show, Freaks & Geeks. He later moved on to another great, and doomed, show, Undeclared (buy Freaks & Geeks from CHUD here. Buy Undeclared from CHUD here). Most recently he co-starred in Freaks & Geeks creator Judd Apatow’s directorial debut, The 40 Year Old Virgin, where he steals the show as Steve Carell’s co-worker at an electronics store.
Earlier this week I had a chance to talk with Seth on the phone about the upcoming DVD release of The 40 Year Old Virgin (buy that sunovabitch from CHUD right here). I wish I had talked to him in person, since he’s one of the few people who I would actually want to get an autograph from.
Hey, speaking of autographs, do you want Steve Carell’s? Because if you do, we’re giving away three copies of The 40 Year Old Virgin signed by the virgin himself. Click here for more info.
Q: Why is it that you’re the Freaks & Geeks alum who hangs out with Judd all the time?
Rogen: Blackmail. Murder. That’s the only way I could put it.
I don’t know. And that’s not true, because I went to a basketball game on Sunday and I saw him sitting with Jason Segal and he didn’t even invite me. There’s a big hole in your theory right now!
Everyone pops up. I will say that I have been very tenacious in my maintenance of a relationship with Judd, I would say. And we just get along really well. I’m willing to write at extremely odd hours of the night for him, and I don’t know anyone else who is.
Q: Were you surprised at how well-received The 40-Year Old Virgin was?
Rogen: At this very second I am still surprised. It’s like mind blowing, it’s the weirdest thing in the entire world that people did not try to burn our houses down after they saw it. I think it’s nice.
Q: You’re working with Judd again on a fan where you’re going to be the leading man.
Rogen: Are you ready for that?
Q: I’m excited about that. I’ve been a fan of yours since you were Ken on Freaks & Geeks. It’s great to see you getting the spotlight. Can you tell me anything about the movie?
Rogen: It’s currently titled Knocked Up, and it’s about me impregnating a girl who is way out of my league on a one night stand.
Q: Are you writing it?
Rogen: I’m executive producing, actually. I’m Judd’s cheerleader on things like this. I sit in a room and tell him what he’s writing is funny.
Q: You began writing on Undeclared, right?
Rogen: I guess professionally. I did stand-up since I was 13, so I guess that’s kind of when I started writing-writing. But screenplays – that was the first time I ever did anything that got made.
Q: What was the big difference for you between writing stand-up and writing screenplays?
Rogen: Stand-up is kind of limiting. You talk through your own perspective; it’s hard to get up there and argue with yourself about five different points of the same subject. With screenplays you can have five characters talking about it and you don’t need the one opinion, you can have everybody’s opinion. It seemed like a better way for me to explore ideas that I found humorous.
Q: Was screenwriting something you always planned on doing, or is that something that came up along the way?
Rogen: I didn’t want a real job!
Q: I heard a story that your acting coach said you would never work because of your voice. Is that true?
Rogen: I think it may be a little bit over-pushed at this point, but she did really imply that lest I did something with my voice I may not be received on any level whatsoever.
Q: Did you ever call her and tell her how wrong she was?
Rogen: No, because she was right about a lot of other shit, so I let that one slide.
Q: You and Martin Starr used to be roommates, right?
Rogen: Yes we were.
Q: What kind of house was that? What was that like?
Rogen: I don’t know if you’re familiar with Los Angeles, but it was in I think the biggest housing complex in North America, called Park LaBrea, which is a giant housing community that is all old people. And us, living in a house together. We literally – I am not joking – they would call security on us at 7 at night for making too much noise.. I am not joking. It would still be light out when security would come.
I eventually moved out. He left a bag of Chinese food under a chair for a week. That was too much for me.
Q: Who cleaned that up?
Rogen: I made him clean that up.
Q: Were you the neater one of the two?
Rogen: I would say I was, and that’s not saying very much.
Q: What kind of cool stuff is there on the new 40-Year Old Virgin DVD that people should be excited about?
Rogen: We have the unrated version, and I know you’re thinking, ‘How could it possibly be any dirtier than the current version?’ But we did it. It’s 17 minutes longer, making it five and a half hours long now.
Q: It’s like the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition.
Rogen: Exactly. It’s an eight-DVD box set.
There’s tons and tons and tons of extra footage that we didn’t use, because we shot a million feet of film. Judd’s very good with DVDs, and he’s one of the few directors who, while he’s on the set shooting a scene will be very conscious of how if it didn’t work for the movie it could work for the DVD. He gets more stuff than a lot of people because he’s very DVD-minded and kind of aware that people are paying more for that than to see it in theaters. And it’s what they’ll be watching for the rest of their lives.
So it is loaded. It’s got this whole Andy’s masturbation sequence that we cut out of the movie, which is very disturbing but hilarious.
Q: Are you on a commentary?
Rogen: I’m on many commentaries. There’s one for the movie, and me and Judd did one for all the deleted scenes, and then there’s another one… pretty much every deleted scene chunk has commentary me and Judd did.
Q: What kind of commentary? The commentary you did on Undeclared ran to the scandalous.
Rogen: Yes, I would say it was in that vein. We have a motto when it comes to commentaries, which is to give no information whatsoever, because you sound like a jerk if you talk about how fun it was to make the whole thing and how technically complicated it was. So we just tell embarrassing stories about one another.
Q: I was impressed by the stories on the Undeclared commentary.
Rogen: I wake up screaming at the thought that people are actually listening to that. I can’t even listen to it. I tried to listen and five minutes in, I turned it off. I don’t want to hear myself talking.
Q: Have you ever considered what might have happened to Ken from Freaks & Geeks after the show?
Rogen: I think he was arrested and is still in jail.
Q: What else do you have coming up besides Knocked Up?
Rogen: I am currently shooting this movie You and Me and Dupree with Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon. It’s very weird to be in the same room with them at any point in time, but they’re very nice guys. I’m playing a 40 year old married guy.
Q: How did you get hired for a 40 year old guy?
Rogen: What’s strange is that I look 40 at times. I have a beard and glasses, and standing next to Owen Wilson I oddly look the exact same age as him. I don’t if they’re in incredible shape for their age or if I’m in terrible shape for my age.
Q: Are there any dream roles that you’re looking at? Knocked Up could be opening a whole new world to you.
Rogen: Any superhero in any capacity. I would be Namor.
Q: You would want to wear those Speedos?
Rogen: I would be anyone. If they’re in a comic book, I would be them
Q: Are you a comic book reader?
Rogen: I’m a huge comic book reader.
Q: What do you read?
Rogen: I read everything. I’m a big Garth Ennis fan. Neil Gaiman. I love all that stuff. Alan Moore. I have so many comic books it’s embarrassing. But Frank Miller is the best, I think.
Q: I’m going to do the set visit for 300 next week, and Frank Miller may be there.
Rogen: Oh man, that’s awesome. A girl I know is doing make-up on that. I went to high school with her. But that’s going to be amazing. I envy you.
Who is the main guy in that? Matthew Fox?
Q: It’s the guy from Phantom of the Opera
Rogen: Frank Miller’s one of those guys I almost hope I never meet because I would probably make a giant fool of myself.
Q: Wait, so you don’t want me to mention you to him for a possible role in Sin City 2?
Rogen: Oh man, that would be cool!