Sitting down with Seth Rogen is more than a little like being inducted as the straight guy into a conversation, and showered with a barrage of the comic actor’s punch lines. The newly slimmed down star and co-writer of The Green Hornet talked weighty matters connected to his reprisal of the vintage crime fighter, including subverting the genre for laughs, Seth’s slacker approach to his character, and how his difficulty taking anything seriously tends to work in his favor. And no, he did not lose the weight in order to snag a steady date.
Talk about your new slim self.
SETH ROGEN: Uh, stay fat, people. That’s my motto. It’s no picnic!
Well, how about your engagement to your intended, how is that going?
SR: Um, was my engagement intended? It was an intentional engagement, yes! And no, my weight had nothing to do with my engagement! It would be pretty hilarious if it did, though!
Did you do any special training to get into shape?
SR: No…I did not do any experimental injections! It’s just diet and exercise. It works!
What makes this movie is so funny?
SR: Thanks! Awesome. I think because the less competent of the two makes himself the hero, and delegates the other guy as his sidekick. And it was like with that situation, the humor would just take care of itself.
But if there was any balance here, is was how big of an asshole could we make my character, and not completely turn off the audience. That was kind of the line we were trying to walk.
So that was the challenge, in how obnoxious can I be. And still the kind of guy you would root for, to…remove his head from his butt!
Did you get into this film because you were a fan of The Green Hornet?
SG: No. I was somewhat of a fan. But the real reason we did this movie, was that we wanted to make a movie about a hero and his sidekick. And about these two guys trying to work out their relationship.
But it’s funny, people are like, why didn’t you do a serious version of this movie. And I like literally can’t imagine the serious version of this movie.
Why is that?
SR: I can’t imagine two guys like this, and it wouldn’t actually get funny! I mean, it’s just so ridiculous that the guy doing all the work is made the sidekick.
And we thought, well what kinda guy would you be if you’re comfortable calling yourself the hero, even though the other guy is the one who does everything.
And a guy who is comfortable having the guy who saves your life, bring you coffee. And is comfortable having the guy who has allowed you to live out your dreams, pose as your man servant, essentially.
But for me, honestly as an actor, I’m very comfortable having the other guy be the guy that, you know, everyone focuses on. That’s what I learned on Pineapple Express.
You know, this is good. Franco will come out on top, and I’ll just kinda coast through under the radar. It’ll be fantastic!
And that’s what I hope for this one too. You know, that people hopefully won’t hate me. But will really be blown away by Jay Chou!
Have you ever had your own moment of heroism?
SR: No! I’m a complete coward in real life.
Exactly how badass is your co-star?
SR: Oh, he’s badass! Yeah, Jay Chou is, I have to say. I got to see him on Youtube, and he’s really badass, and really cool. And funny.
By doing very little, he can convey a lot of humor. And in contrast to my loud, spastic nature! So his quiet, cool nature was very good.
Did you ever get hurt in those far out fight scenes?
SR: No, we didn’t get hurt at all. We thought it would be really funny to fight, and destroy my house at the same time. And we had a really fun time doing it, just like when James Franco and I destroyed that apartment in Pineapple Express. So it was a bigger version of that same idea.
And we thought, even if you’re the type of person who would hate this movie – and really hates me for making it! – we thought we would…reward you! By including a lot of references to the various incarnations of The Green Hornet.
And there are a dozen references to the others that most people would probably never notice in a million years. But it’s for the hardcore fans that – again! – hate me for making this movie.
What about those wild special effects?
SR: That was, uh – movie magic! And no, none of that was nearly as dangerous as it looks. And some of these actors like Christoph and Cameron aren’t in large roles but they’re memorable. And that’s what matters. You know, in subverting the whole genre.
What kind of preparation was there with James Franco?
SR: Not much. He just kinda showed up. And we yelled a bunch of stuff at him, and he said it all! But like on Freaks And Geeks, he was a really active person, busy doing something all the time. He’d be reading between takes, and then going home and paint at night.
And like me and Jason Segel, we did nothing. I remember we’d shoot, and then go eat burgers all night. And Franco would come the next day with a painting he did all night. And we’d be like wow, he’s so motivated.
How about getting into it with an eccentric director like Michel Gondry?
SR: I think a lot of filmmakers make these weird little movies, and aren’t aware that…they’re making weird little movies! But Gondrey is aware that what he’s made in the past, are these weird little movies.
That being said, we didn’t always see eye to eye on everything. He had some extremely crazy ideas every now and then. Some that are just literally impossible to film! And much to our actors’ chagrin at times.
What’s the worst thing that can happen to you as an actor?
SR: That a joke isn’t funny.
I just read about a Knocked Up spinoff that will be happening.
Are you going to be doing that too?
SR: I don’t know, I just read that too. I gotta check that out!
Any Hornet sequels in the works?
SR: Why not. Sure. I’d have to lose weight again!
What audience is this movie for?
SR: Everyone, honestly! But hey, it’s not Gone With The Wind, or anything like that! We just wanted to make a big, fun adventure movie that you don’t have to think too hard about. So yeah, this movie is hopefully for everyone.
And I do know that lots of my movies in the past are not like that! But this one is not as horrifically violent and filthy as our other movies. And I think there’s no drug use in the whole thing! So we’re…making some steps forward!