Seth Rogen is not just an actor. Teamed with his Canadian childhood friend Evan Goldberg, he’s half of one of the most powerful screenwriting teams in Hollywood. The two have written such films as Superbad and Pineapple Express, and their most recent collaboration, The End of the World, stars a cast of comedy heavyweights including Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling, Jason Segel and PLAYBOY Contributing Editor James Franco. Franco, who starred on the cult TV hit Freaks and Geeks with Rogen and worked with both men on Pineapple Express, chatted with his longtime colleagues.
FRANCO: What were you guys like in high school? Was it hard for you to get girls?
ROGEN: Yeah, we did not get with girls in high school.
GOLDBERG: We did not do that well.
FRANCO: Were you into sports?
GOLDBERG: In Canada that doesn’t matter.
ROGEN: In Canada athleticism does not transfer over the way it does in America.
FRANCO: What was your thing? Music? Wu-Tang?
GOLDBERG: I didn’t really like rap or hip-hop in high school.
ROGEN: We weren’t rap guys by any stretch of the imagination.
GOLDBERG: I liked rock and roll, Led Zeppelin and shit like that.
ROGEN: We were potheads. But Evan didn’t smoke pot.
GOLDBERG: I only tried pot in 11th grade, I think.
FRANCO: Just pot? Nothing else?
GOLDBERG: No, we drank at a very young age.
ROGEN: Yeah, we were drunk a lot.
FRANCO: Was that because you were social misfits?
GOLDBERG: No, we did well with the social elements of high school. We had lots of friends and stuff.
ROGEN: Except in grade eight I got picked on, and grade nine.
GOLDBERG: You should have been picked on—you had dreadlocks.
ROGEN: I was an obnoxious kid with dreadlocks.
GOLDBERG: I’m amazed you didn’t get the shit beat out of you.
FRANCO: Seth, you were cast on Freaks and Geeks in 1999.
ROGEN: Yeah, I was 16 when we shot the pilot.
FRANCO: I was there too. What I remember most is how much weed you would smoke.
ROGEN: I remember a few times you actually left because you were like, “I can’t be around this much weed smoke. I’ve got to get out of here.” Which I thought was funny.
FRANCO: What made you decide to try movies?
GOLDBERG: Even though Superbad was our big start, that’s not our favorite type of movie. It’s bad shit like Mars Attacks! When that came out, we were flipping out. We were so excited. We like movies that take balls and go for it, and involve something blowing up and some spaceships and aliens.
ROGEN: It’s good if there is also an emotional story.
FRANCO: What movies were your biggest influences as filmmakers?
GOLDBERG: The Princess Bride and Spaceballs were two I enjoyed the most.
ROGEN: Ghostbusters. This movie we’re working on with you, The End of the World, has kind of a Ghostbusters-ish vibe. That was always one of my favorite movies.
GOLDBERG: Indiana Jones really affected me as a kid.
ROGEN: Me too. We steal a few shots from Steven Spielberg in this movie. I always loved the Back to the Future movies. That was one of the best movies ever to meld a super-fucking-weird sci-fi element with the most normal emotional story you could imagine. It was helping a loser try to get a girl.
FRANCO: Now that you’re both getting older—Seth, you’re married, and Evan, you’re getting married—do you think your movies will change?
ROGEN: I wouldn’t write a movie about a bunch of high school kids at this age.
GOLDBERG: Or ever again.
ROGEN: It would feel weird. The End of the World is about us, so it’s organically about people our age. But every movie we’ve written is about people our age, so I think we’ll keep doing that. That being said, this movie’s probably as bat-shit crazy and immature as any of our other movies, so I don’t think that’s going to stop.
GOLDBERG: Mostly it’s too late for that. The genie’s out of the bottle.
FRANCO: Some critics look down on bat-shit crazy. Does that concern you?
ROGEN: We don’t think of the critics at all. We think of audiences, theaters full of people. And I think theaters full of people want shit that’s totally original and completely bat-shit crazy. I ask myself what’s going to get a big laugh. To me it’s just the craziest stuff. I resent the stupid implication that to make something creatively satisfying only a few people can like it.
GOLDBERG: You know what that is? That’s hipster mentality.
ROGEN: It is hipster bullshit. A movie is art that’s for everybody. It’s a piece of art that costs $10 to buy. A painting can cost millions of dollars. So to me it should be something that’s crazy and that, hypothetically, everybody wants. I envy those artists who can literally paint three paintings a year and make as much money as I make in two weeks. They have to satisfy only three people, and they’re making as much money as we make trying to satisfy hundreds of millions of people. I like making a lot of people happy.
FRANCO: You guys can look down on the hipster mentality all you want, but trust me, many people think Superbad is the hippest movie around.
ROGEN: But do hipsters even like that movie?
GOLDBERG: I don’t know. I don’t know what hipsters like. I don’t really understand hipsters.
ROGEN: I don’t understand that either. We probably are hipsters.
GOLDBERG: No, hipsters don’t wear shorts.
ROGEN: Yeah, hipsters don’t wear cargo shorts.