The man who recently starred alongside Charlize Theron in ‘Long Shot’ says his own career was unlikely, given that he left school at 13 years old. RSNG caught up with him to find out how he finds inspiration, why suffering is useful, who the least funny people he has met are, and what’s coming next for ‘Preacher’…
RSNG What do you do when you need comedic inspiration?
SETH ROGEN, COMEDIAN ‘Get out of my own head! Honestly, I just need to depart. I need to absorb myself in something else entirely.’
RSNG Like what?
SR ‘Well, take The Simpsons. Now that has been a show that’s been a staple of my life, kinetically, for the last 20 years. So that has probably been the single biggest comedic influence that I have had just because it has been in my life for so long. And things like that become a reset button. They are the things you found funny then and still do now, so use them as, like, as a way to get back to a place where you can restart inspiration… when you need something to come through. It’s almost like a very pure, very subconscious thing, whereby you need to wipe clean by watching something else.’
‘It’s like some sort of osmosis – you need to allow your creative thoughts to be permeated by something else, and only then can you really focus on creating something special. I can sit here trying to be funny for an hour, and fail. But if I put a comedy on, then gradually my whole mind reconfigures itself into being sharp and alert to funny stuff.’
‘In a way it shouldn’t be a surprise that that happens, but at the same time we shouldn’t underestimate the power of simple outside influences getting us involved and in-tune with the task in hand, and that’s a very cool thing.’
‘Make sure the inspiration you’re trying to bring to the surface is for something you’re genuinely interested in’
RSNG Do you think that advice can work for all people?
SR ‘I think the best advice for people trying to find a way to be inspired is, first and foremost, just make sure the inspiration you’re trying to bring to the surface is for something you are genuinely interested in. There is very little point going through life trying to be interested in something you’re not – that would be dumb, and kind of a waste of time, right? So unless you’re tied to something financially or contractually, or perhaps emotionally in a way that you hope will work out further down the line, I would recommend always taking time to check how invested you are in a project.’
‘I’ve been on film sets where you can look around and see people who really don’t want to be there, yet they’re tied in… you know it and they know it. That’s not a nice place in which to find yourself buried, but every actor has been there.’
‘I think if you focus on creating stuff that good, and makes you feel good, then the odds are you will get money and recognitions for your efforts… but the real reward is from within.’
RSNG What have been some other long shots that you’ve got over the line in your life?
SR ‘Only really the long shot that was me leaving school at 13 and going out into the world. I mean, school wasn’t a place for me and I think I proved education only works for people who want to learn stuff!’
‘I wanted to create stuff, and as a 13-year-old I have enough energy and enough ideas in my head, even at that age, to think my time was better spent in ways other than reading textbooks. That sounds a bit arrogant but I don’t mean it like that – I just felt wasted in that environment. So at the time it didn’t feel like a long shot; but looking back on it I guess it was.’
‘There’s a nice reinforcement in suffering if you can find a way through – it means you’re not standing still’
RSNG Who has been the least amused person that you’ve met?
SR ‘I started doing stand-up comedy around the time I left school. I met a lot of people thoroughly unamused with what lay before them. But even back then comedy was my life, and I knew more about how the industry worked that a lot of adults I bumped into. I knew the setbacks and I actually welcomed them because it reinforced in me the fact I was getting somewhere and going through all the same stuff that 100 other really good comedians had been through too.’
‘In life there’s a nice reinforcement in suffering if you can find a way through it – it basically means you’re not standing still.’
RSNG You recently founded a business called Houseplant. Has it brought you any tips for would be entrepreneurs?
SR ‘Well, Houseplant is our cannabis brand and currently it is only available in British Columbia and that is where Evan [Goldberg, co-owner] and I are from. It’s been a huge part of our lives forever and we really wanted to try to facilitate bringing that to as many people as wanted it.’
‘Doing it in a way which reflected our values and our sensibilities in any way that we could, and we found out very quickly that we were able to put a lot of ourselves into the product and into the branding, and it became a very creatively gratifying experience.’
‘My advice for would be entrepreneurs is to appreciate how difficult it is out there but persist with the focus of your idea. We found it was very easy to become distracted, and that, at times, led to us moving away from the very simple vision of what the company was about.’
‘I know friends who have become side-tracked in business and in other aspects of who they are, and you don’t want to be that person 10 years down the line who looks back and realises they didn’t follow the key message or the key goal in their business.’
RSNG Why did getting Preacher released become such a driving force for you, and can you tell us anything about the final season?
SR ‘Well, as soon as we crystallised ideas we sent them across to Garth [Ennis, the creator] to get his input and take them on. We had to be clear we weren’t doings that may have derailed the whole show! Once we kind of made a few key decisions to roll back the clock a little bit on where things starts, and some of the reimaginations of Jesse and Tulip’s relationship, it fell into place… it kind of took shape rather smoothly.’
‘I think as well, starting to make it in the generation we are in now was not just through perseverance; we tried to get this thing made for 10 years or so and the options were fairly limited. It took the television industry moving in the right direction which made it the right place at the right time.’
RSNG What do you mean?
SR ‘Well there’s the whole thing around the continued growth of comic books. The trend into billion-dollar projects is so entrenched in comic book culture now and that is a huge shift from what we had 20 years ago.’
‘When I was a kid growing up reading comic books, this way of imagining movies was the exception to the rule. Now it’s almost a way into guaranteed success by taking an established comic book hero and putting him or her in a new situation. And that really paved the way for Preacher to be made because we would never have had the budgets for these types of shows in the past. People are now taking bigger swings across stranger material.’
WHAT NEXT? Watch Seth Rogen alongside Charlize Theron in the trailer for Long Shot.
Follow this article’s author on Instagram @The_Adventure_Fella