Interview: Seth Rogen did not prep to play a dad in ‘Neighbors’

Seth Rogen plays a young father combating a frat in "Neighbors." Credit: Getty Images
Seth Rogen plays a young father combating a frat in “Neighbors.”
Credit: Getty Images

Seth Rogen isn’t old; he’s only 32. But he has more responsibilities than many his age, even if the work he puts out — including last summer’s “This Is the End,” which he also co-directed with his longtime friend Evan Goldberg — is generally about youngish men struggling with responsibilities and maturity.

In “Neighbors” he plays Mac, who’s not only married (to Rose Byrne), but also a new father. Their boring life is upended when a frat house, led by Zac Efron, moves in next door.

The writers talk about how this was borne out of anxiety about aging. Is that something you share?

I had no specific fears about turning 30. It was more the general compiling of responsibilities, coupled with the lack of time to do the stuff that you used to do more of. And the physical repercussions of trying to do the stuff that you used to do more of. [Laughs]

The hangovers suddenly get brutal when you turn 30.

They’re much worse. It takes me weeks to recover now.

The frat boys aren’t completely demonized here. They’re sympathetic at times.

I think in earlier versions of the script the frat was much more villainized. But Zac is just such a good dude, and Chris [Mintz-Plasse] and Dave [Franco] and Jerrod [Carmichael] are all such nice, sweet guys that it inherently made them not that bad. It made them more sympathetic, in a great way.

These films seem to have such a democratic way of being put together. Everyone chips in.

Definitely. The audience is probably the most important element. That’s the loudest voice in the process, in some ways. We test the movies a lot, we see what gets laughs, what doesn’t, and we really listen not to the words they’re saying but the feeling that you have when you’re watching the movie with the audience. We really will change the movie heavily when we do that.

Has that happened a lot?

Yeah. We don’t change the story that much, but the specific things that people are saying, we do change. If they don’t laugh we’ll try different jokes. And that’s one of the good things about improv, is you get a lot of options. So if one joke sucks you have other options you can use.

Seth Rogen tries his hand at re-embracing youth in "Neighbors." Credit: Glen Wilson
Seth Rogen tries his hand at re-embracing youth in “Neighbors.”
Credit: Glen Wilson

How did you prep to play a dad?

Uh, I did not prep for this role. [Laughs] I do not do preparation for my roles as an actor. [Laughs] I just do it. I couldn’t even tell you what Mac does for a living, honestly. I don’t know what we’re doing in that place. Just working in an office. It just seemed like a place people … work. [Laughs]

You did a straight-up drama in Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz.” Is that something you see yourself doing more of in the future?

I guess depending on who is doing it. I wasn’t sitting around thinking, “I want to do a dramatic movie.” But when Sarah Polley asked me to be in her movie, that was very exciting. If it was a comedic one I would have done it; if it was a dramatic one I would have done it. I just wanted to work with her. I’m not trying to do specifically dramatic work.

Has becoming a director changed your approach to acting?

To some degree. I see the value of getting a lot of options and variation. We did that anyway, but when you’re in the editing room you see the value of having a lot of different things to chose from.

As an actor, you don’t always fully grasp that someone has to put this together at some point.

A lot of actors don’t.

Do you have any experience with frats?

Not really, no. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a real frat house. I didn’t go to college, and in Canada they’re not that big. I wrote an episode about frats when we did the show “Undeclared,” and that was probably the most experience I ever had, up until this movie. After seeing the movie, though, it seems like it’s not that bad. It seems fun.

One extra story:

One of the big scenes was shot outside of the Abercrombie & Fitch on the Universal City Block in Los Angeles. We won’t spoil it, except to say that there’s a scene outside of an Abercrombie & Fitch. “It was open. People were really shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch,” Rogen recalls. “But it was 8 in the morning. So only really weird people were shopping at Ambercrombie. Who goes there at 8 a.m.? It’s a weird time to think, ‘I need cargo shorts.’”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…