Seth Rogen talks Funny People

We talk to the star of Judd Apatow's comedy, out this week on DVD

by | January 3, 2010 | Comments

You are looking fantastic — you’ve lost a lot of weight. How did you do it?

Seth Rogen: Thank You. I had a trainer and I dieted. It was that easy — it drives my girlfriend crazy.

They make quite a joke of your new slimmer build in the film. Was that based on real life?

Seth Rogen: Yeah people make fun of what I’m eating because they can tell I hate it. They know I am not happy eating healthy food. I look miserable — I look like I would rather be eating something else.

Was there any concern that people might look at you differently?

Seth Rogen: For me it’s like a movie to movie thing. Its like your doing a movie — you should probably lose some weight. This was done for Green Hornet and the filming was pushed back a bit. I was always supposed to film Funny People before Green Hornet so it was a mad dash to lose the weight before Funny People, because I couldn’t be losing weight throughout the film.

So you are also Executive Producer on this film. What did that involve?

Seth Rogen: On The 40 Year Old Virgin I was co producer and on Knocked Up I was also Executive Producer. I’m officially there to help him out throughout the pre-production process. It means I go to the rehearsals for the other actors which most actors would not do but as Executive Producer I do that and later I am involved in the conversation about those rehearsals. In this movie Judd had a very clear view of what he wanted to do. He usually finds it more along the way but this one he as very clear what he wanted out of it, so it made my job a lot easier.

Is your character based on Judd’s earlier career?

Seth Rogen: I didn’t know Judd when he was young so it’s kind of what I would imagine Judd would have been when he was young. Judd and I are very different — we don’t act anything alike. We are friends and we work together well but we are not very similar people. I knew the guy he wanted in the movie was supposed to be naïve and wide eyed and who would take a lot from other people but still could be a little sneaky. I think I am much more cynical and I put up walls much more than the character he wanted me to be. To be the sort of person that would take that much crap from someone I needed to be a very different person than what I am. If it was me I probably would have punched him in the face 20 minutes into the movie

That’s what was interesting — he seems to be a guy who would always do the right thing and yet he doesn’t hesitate to stabs his friend in the back.

Seth Rogen: That’s what makes them interesting characters. As a writer it’s bold to do something like that. It’s contradictory because people could say it doesn’t make sense — but it does make sense — the character is doing something complicated. That’s why I really like it.

Do you feel that being in the business you have to learn to play the game even if it’s against your nature?

Seth Rogen: What I relate a lot to in the movie is how much of yourself are you willing to sacrifice in order to become success? Are you willing to stop hanging out with your friends — are you going to become a jerk?

So what is your conclusion personally?

Seth Rogen: No I don’t think so. I think if you want to become the most successful person maybe you have to, but then I look at Adam who is unbelievably successful and he is really nice and seems happy and has a family and kids but generally when I see very rich people I generally assume they are evil. (laughs).

You started stand up at 13. How did you get your first break?

Seth Rogen: They have workshops run out of comedy clubs put on by comics and you learn the basic constructs of joke writing. Then you get up on stage and tell your jokes and that was basically what happened and it was held out of a lesbian bar in Vancouver. It went pretty well and there were some other comics that invited me to do something else, and then slowly you meet the comics and you get more work.

13 is pretty young to be hanging out with seasoned comics, isn’t it?

Seth Rogen: I thought it was hilarious. That’s probably why I have a pretty sick sense of humour now. I still had my friends. It’s not like I only hung out with comedians. I would be there a few nights at week.

What was it like doing stand up for this movie?

Seth Rogen: Judd made us do stand up for months leading up to the movie. It was very helpful in selecting the jokes — for every scene you see me telling a joke, we filmed an entire routine of about 20 minutes. Every moment in the movie may seem random and off the cuff but it is all very meticulously selected.

But you had to write them in character?

Seth Rogen: Obviously I couldn’t write jokes about sleeping on a pull out couch or not having money and I have a girlfriend. I had to write jokes from the point of view of an insecure single struggling guy that has no money. It’s a lot more pathetic than I am, so that was hard, but at the same time I couldn’t go onstage and would have to explain that these jokes are not about me.

Did you think of any other movie references when you were making this?

Seth Rogen: There were a lot of movies we talked about and tried to combine them. We did talk about Lenny because we felt it captured the stand up comedy world really well, and it felt real. We also talked about movies like Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News — those life changing movies, because it was going to be a mix of those.

Did you feel that this was a grown up movie for Judd?

Seth Rogen: I guess. I think it’s a much more complicated movie. I don’t know if it’s because it’s about terminal illness. There are a lot of stories. The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up are pretty simple stories. This one is tracking many ideas and it’s a much more ambitious movie.

How did you build your relationship with Adam Sandler for the movie?

Seth Rogen: We didn’t really hang out but we rehearsed for a few weeks. Luckily in real life Adam is someone I idolized my entire life growing up and I’m in awe of and nervous around so we didn’t need to work on that dynamic. Obviously he is way meaner to me in the movie than he is in real life but that’s easy to fake. We didn’t need to work that hard on it because the dynamic was already there.

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