Actor Seth Rogen describes the process of trying to find his voice as a performer this way: “Steve McQueen was already taken, but I looked down the list, and it seemed like funny Jew was open, so I went with that.”
Chatting to reporters on the phone late last week in advance of the animated Halloween special he’s voice-starring in for NBC Wednesday, ‘Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space,’ the Judd Apatow protégé did what he usually does – keep things light, quippy and moving forward.
Based on the DreamWorks animated feature Rogen voiced starred in last spring – ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ took in nearly $380 million worldwide – the half-hour ‘M vs. A’ special will co-star Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Kiefer Sutherland, Will Arnett and Rainn Wilson.
Rogen will reprise his gelatinous role of B.O.B.
Now having done voice work in numerous animated features and TV series – he also had roles in ‘Horton Hears a Who’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda,’ as well as a part in ‘The Simpsons’ last month – Rogen said doing cartoons fits nicely into his schedule.
“One of the things about animation, they can really schedule it around you,” Rogen said. “I can go do it on a weekend while I’m shooting a movie.”
Indeed, while he works to inflect a casual, comedic tone, the 27-year-old multi-hyphenate – he also writes and produces — cannot entirely hide his very serious ambitions.
For example, Rogen – who’s coming off the Apatow-directed flop ‘Funny People’ — gets downright earnest when discussing ‘The Green Hornet,’ his first expensive studio mega-tentpole, which will be released next year by Sony.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” conceded Rogen, who also has a writing credit on the Michel Gondry-directed ‘Hornet.’ “Even if the movie sucks for another reason, people will still blame me, so that’s why I have to be so involved to make sure it doesn’t suck. I’ve been talking about this movie for years, so if it does suck, no one will be more disappointed than me.”
Meanwhile, Rogen, who emerged on Apatow’s short-lived but cult-beloved TV series ‘Freaks and Geeks’ a decade ago, is also starring in and producing the “Untitled Cancer Comedy,” which chronicles former ‘Da Ali G Show’ writer Will Reiser’s real-life battle with serious illness.
Reiser will direct the project, which will go into production next year. James McAvoy will play the lead role.
“I’ll be playing his friend who was useless in the process,” said Rogen of his own part. Meanwhile, when asked if he has ambitions about producing an animated feature of his own, Rogen sounded, well, more like a producer than a young comedian.
“It’s definitely something we’ve talked about,” he said. “The fact that these movies are kind of becoming cheaper to make in a lot of ways is what interests me.”
Then again, he still seems to enjoy just being a young comedic actor, noting how his fondness for Halloween specials on ABC’s ‘TGIF’ comedy block in the 1980s made working on this latest DreamWorks animated project fun.
“I was a nerd, so I was always home on Fridays to watch those,” he said. “I’ve always liked sitcom Halloween specials.”
However, when asked if he’d also like to do a Christmas special, Rogen demurred.
“Anything but Christmas,” he said. “I’m Jewish.”