For years, you knew Seth Rogen as the wisecracking sidekick in comedies like 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin' and the TV show 'Freaks and Geeks.' But then came lead roles in 'Knocked Up' and 'Pineapple Express,' and suddenly, Rogen is -- dare we say it? -- hot, starring in not one but three big '09 movies: the animated 'Monsters vs. Aliens' and comedies 'Observe and Report' and 'Funny People.'
He's appeared on the covers of Vanity Fair and Playboy, hit the SXSW and talk-show circuit ... Heck, he's even got Lindsay Lohan complaining that he won't call her back.
Even with so much on his plate, the former stand-up comedian good-naturedly fields our questions about his various movie projects (including the much-anticipated 'Green Hornet'), his newly svelte figure and the shocking revelation that he may, in fact, be sexier than Brad Pitt.
-- By Patricia Chui
1. In 'Monsters vs. Aliens,' you play B.O.B., a monster who doesn't have a brain. Was that a big stretch for you?
I've done it several times. It was just one more for the canon. [Laughs]
2. How much was improvised? For example, B.O.B. is in love with Derek, the fiancé of Reese Witherspoon's character -- how much of that came from you?
I think that did come from an improv. The way they do it is you go in, like, 20 times over the course of years, you know? So one time [the scenario] was, what are we going to do when we get out of prison? And I think my joke was just that my guy couldn't understand which one [monster] he was, and so I think I did the joke, "When I get out of here, I'm going to meet Derek." And they're like, "No, that's not you, B.O.B." "Oh, OK." And then the next thing you know, it's kind of like a major joke that runs through the movie. And it all just came from a little thing that you said.
3. That storyline had nothing to do with the fact that Derek is played by Paul Rudd?
I won't comment on that ... That I would create any excuse to be in love with Paul Rudd that I possibly can.
4. Were you ever scared of monsters as a kid? And what were you most afraid of?
I'm still scared of monsters, for God's sakes! When my girlfriend goes out of town, I sleep with the TV on. [When I was a kid] I was afraid of 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.' Because there's that part with Large Marge, that always scared the crap out of me.
5. You're promoting so many movies coming out this year. Do you ever get confused, wondering, which movie am I promoting now?
[Laughs] I'm doing 'Leno' today, and I'm not sure what movie it's for, I'll be totally honest.
6. There's a story in Nylon where Lindsay Lohan said, "Seth Rogen is not calling me back." Why aren't you calling her back?
That is not ... That's the first I had heard of that. And my assistant hadn't heard it either. I can tell you that she hasn't called me. If she has, I haven't heard about it. [But] I would call her back, sure! I'd return a call.
7. How do you feel about being in the OTHER mall-cop movie of 2009, 'Observe and Report'? And if your character and Paul Blart threw down, who would win?
I consider them the other one. [Laughs] To me, I'm just so proud of the movie, and think it's so off-the-charts insane, that I don't think anyone after seeing both movies will find anything to compare them to. I think they could not be more different. Kevin James is a big guy, so I can't fight him, I'll just say that. I won't pretend to take on him.
8. You wrote a lot of Bruno material for 'Da Ali G Show.' Did you do any work on the 'Bruno' movie coming out this summer?
I'm friends with Sacha [Baron Cohen], and he's nice enough to look at our stuff when we're making it, and I look at his stuff while he's doing it, and it's just one of the nice things about having a friend with the same job as you. So, I've seen it a few times, I've thrown my ideas in the hat, [and] it's amazing. It's great. I'm excited for the world to experience it.
9. Did filming Judd Apatow's 'Funny People' give you flashbacks to your stand-up career -- and in a good way, or a bad way?
Both. I would say both. It was kind of a bittersweet thing for me. It's interesting, we actually performed our comedy for the movie, and we filmed our live comedy performances, so there were times it was painful, and there were times it was glorious. My character in the movie is not supposed to be that good, so there were several times where I kind of bombed on purpose, and even then I didn't quite ever do it as bad as I should have, because I just couldn't allow myself to do it. [Laughs] It was too painful.
10. Will 'Green Hornet' be different now that Michel Gondry's on board as director?
Oh my God, I mean, it definitely will. Me and Evan [Goldberg] have thought, in our writing, we'd be able to reinvent a lot of the conventions of how these superhero movies generally go -- but we want to be sure that in the visual look of the movie we'd be able to do the same thing, and having a guy like Michel Gondry pretty much guarantees that we'll be able to do that. In my head, he's kind of an unmatched visualist. He conceives of things that aren't even on other people's radars. So it's exciting.
11. You lost a lot of weight for 'Green Hornet.' How did you do it, and does it feel different to be lighter?
I worked out, and ate better. [Laughs] Very exciting. I'm just hungry all the time. I'm bulimic, that's the real key. [Laughs] I feel no different at all. It feels worse, if anything. I feel vulnerable. I feel like a shaved dog.
12. I have a co-worker who told me that she would rather have sex with you than Brad Pitt. How does it feel to know that you're a sex symbol to a lot of people?
Really??!! That's a terrible thing to say. It's very dist ... I feel very bad for all those people. [Laughs] People are into weird shit, I'll say that.
13. What do you think Ken, your character from 'Freaks and Geeks,' would be doing today?
Actually, after watching 'Observe and Report' again recently, I feel like that character in a way could be a continuation of Ken from 'Freaks and Geeks.' I do. It wouldn't surprise me if he ended up like that.
15. Do you prefer writing or acting? And would you ever direct?
I don't think I would do that anytime soon. I don't know. Writing's fun because you do it in your underpants.