Rogen in 2019
Seth Aaron Rogen
April 15, 1982
Seth Aaron Rogen (//; born April 15, 1982) is a Canadian-American actor, comedian, writer, producer, and director. Having begun as a stand-up comedian in Vancouver, he moved to Los Angeles for a part in Judd Apatow's series Freaks and Geeks, and then got a part on the sitcom Undeclared, which also hired him as a writer. After landing his job as a staff writer on the final season of Da Ali G Show, Apatow guided him toward a film career. As a staff writer, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series.
Rogen made his first movie appearance in Donnie Darko with a minor role in 2001. Rogen was cast in a supporting role and credited as a co-producer in Apatow's directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Universal Pictures subsequently cast him as the lead in Apatow's films Knocked Up and Funny People. Rogen co-starred as Steve Wozniak in Universal's Steve Jobs biopic in 2015. In 2016, he developed the AMC television series Preacher with his writing partner Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin. He also serves as a writer, executive producer, and director, with Goldberg.
Rogen and Goldberg co-wrote the films Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet, This Is the End, and directed both This Is the End and The Interview; all of which Rogen starred in. He has also done voice work for the films Shrek the Third, Horton Hears a Who!, the Kung Fu Panda film series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Monsters vs. Aliens, Paul, Sausage Party, and Pumbaa in the 2019 version of The Lion King.
Seth Aaron Rogen was born on April 15, 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia to a Jewish family of Ukrainian and Russian origin. His mother, Sandy Belogus, is a social worker, and his American father, Mark Rogen (born 1953), worked for non-profit organizations and as an assistant director of the Workmen's Circle Jewish fraternal organization. Of his dual citizenship, Rogen has stated "I definitely associate with being Canadian much more than being American" because he grew up in Canada. He has described his parents, who met on kibbutz Beit Alfa in Israel, as "radical Jewish socialists." Rogen has an older sister named Danya, and attended Vancouver Talmud Torah Elementary School and Point Grey Secondary School, incorporating many of his classmates into his writing, and did karate for ten years. He was also known for the stand-up comedy he performed at Camp Miriam, a Habonim Dror camp.
As a child, Rogen did not want to pursue any career other than comedy, stating "As soon as I realized you could be funny as a job, that was the job I wanted." He got his start in show business at age 12 after enrolling in a comedy workshop taught by Mark Pooley. His early comedy routines involved jokes about his Bar Mitzvah, his grandparents, and his camp counsellors. During his teenage years, he would perform stand-up comedy routines at places like bar mitzvahs and small parties, later shifting to bars. A mohel paid him to write jokes. At the age of 13, he co-wrote a rough draft of Superbad with childhood friend Evan Goldberg, whom he had met at Bar Mitzvah classes. Based on their teenage experiences, Rogen and Goldberg spent the rest of their time in high school polishing the script. They initially worried that American Pie (1999) had beaten them to the idea for the movie, but they decided that the film "managed to totally avoid all honest interaction between characters... which is what we're going for."
His mother was supportive of his comic endeavours and would often drive him to stand-up gigs at the comedy club Yuk Yuk's. With his deadpan humour, he placed second in the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest at 16 years old. Also when Rogen was 16, his father lost his job and his mother quit hers, forcing them to put their house up for sale and relocate to a significantly smaller apartment. Around this time, he landed a role on Judd Apatow's television show Freaks and Geeks after attending a local casting call. Rogen dropped out of high school, began working for Apatow, and relocated with his family to Los Angeles. Rogen paid the bills and had become the main wage earner at just 16.
1999–2006: Early work and friendship with Judd Apatow
Rogen's acting debut was in Apatow's Freaks and Geeks, a cult hit series first released in 1999 as Ken Miller, a cynical, acerbic "freak." Revolving around a group of teenagers' lives, Freaks and Geeks first aired in 1999. Although well-reviewed, the show was NBC's lowest-viewed program and was cancelled after one season due to poor ratings. Impressed with Rogen's improvisational skills, Apatow then chose him as the lead in another of his shows, Undeclared. Rogen was originally set to play a fairly popular but nerdy college freshman, but the network did not think he was leading man material. Apatow opted not to go along with the show. Rogen also served as a staff writer to the short-lived production.
Following the show's cancellation in 2002, Rogen did not get many auditions, which was not upsetting to him as he always thought he would achieve better success as a writer. He would soon be a part of Apatow's "frat pack," a close-knit group that includes Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. Of the awkwardness of a grown man spending so much time with a teenaged Rogen, Apatow said: "I'm such a comedy fan that, even though he's 16, I know I'm hanging out with one of the guys who's going to be one of the great comics." Around this time, Apatow would come up with odd requests for Rogen and Goldberg, such as turn an idea of his into a movie in 10 days and come up with 100 one-page ideas for films. Regarding Apatow's professional effect on Rogen, the actor said in 2009, "Obviously, I can't stress how important Judd's been to my career."
Rogen had roles in Donnie Darko (2001) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). A big career point for him was becoming a staff writer for Sacha Baron Cohen's last season of Da Ali G Show in 2004. Along with the show's other writers, Rogen received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. He became familiar to audiences as one of the main character's co-workers in Apatow's well-reviewed buddy comedy directorial debut feature The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005). Rogen also co-produced it and improvised all his dialogue. "[Rogen] hadn't done any screen work that indicated he could carry as memorable and convincing a performance as he does with the character Cal," MTV's John Constantine wrote. The Boston Globe reviewer Wesley Morris wrote that Rogen, along with co-stars Rudd and Romany Malco, were each hilarious in their own right and Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore believed that Rogen had his moments in the film whereas Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times said the actor was "droopily deadpan." He followed this with a small role in You, Me and Dupree (2006), a critically panned comedy featuring Matt Dillon, Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson.
2007–2009: Breakthrough as a leading man
His breakthrough came when Universal Studios greenlit him for the lead in yet another Apatow production: Knocked Up (2007), a romantic comedy that follows the repercussions of a drunken one-night stand between his slacker character and Katherine Heigl's just-promoted media personality that results in an unintended pregnancy. Upon completing The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Apatow had approached Rogen about potential starring roles, but the actor suggested many high-concept science fiction ideas. After Apatow insisted that he would work better in real life situations, the two agreed on the accidental pregnancy concept of this production. Rogen called shooting sex scenes with Heigl "nerve-racking" and found comfort with the supporting cast since, even though he played a lead, the focus was not all on him. Made on a $30 million budget and released on June 1, Knocked Up was a critical and commercial box office hit, garnering an approval rating of 90 percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and grossing $219 million. Rogen also received favourable reviews. Later that year, he played a supporting part as an irresponsible police officer in Superbad, which he had written with his writing partner and was co-produced by Apatow. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill originate the main roles, two teenage best friends whose party plans go wrong, based on them. The film and their writing was praised, with critics finding it to be very authentic. It topped the US box office for two weeks in a row. He made a vocal cameo appearance in the animated film Shrek the Third, also released in 2007. Rogen hosted Saturday Night Live in October 2007.
Rogen's projects in 2008 included Jimmy Hayward's Horton Hears a Who!, an animated film based on the Dr. Seuss book, in which Rogen voiced Morton the Mouse, and the fantasy film The Spiderwick Chronicles, in which he voiced a hobgoblin. Rogen additionally co-wrote Drillbit Taylor, also produced by Apatow and starring Owen Wilson as the homeless titular character. He based the screenplay on a 70-page scriptment done by John Hughes. The movie was panned by critics who thought its plot – a grown man becoming three kids' bodyguard and beating up their bullies – had no focus and was drawn out. "If Superbad were remade as a gimmicky Nickelodeon movie, it would probably look something like Drillbit Taylor" Josh Bell wrote in the Las Vegas Weekly. He again lent his voice to another animated movie, this time Kung Fu Panda, with Jack Black and Angelina Jolie. It did exceptionally well in theatres, making more than $630 million. Rogen made a cameo appearance in the comedy Step Brothers, released in July. Rogen, Goldberg and Apatow were behind the stoner action comedy Pineapple Express directed by David Gordon Green at Columbia Pictures. Apatow produced it while Rogen and Goldberg wrote the script. Rogen was chosen to play the film's protagonist, a 25-year-old who accidentally witnesses a murder while delivering a subpoena. James Franco was cast as his hippie pot dealer that he goes on the run with. When asked about its inspiration, Rogen said he wrote what he knew. Pineapple Express was released to theatres in August and made $101 million in ticket sales against its $27 million production budget. Movie critics lauded it, appreciating their performances and its humor.
In April 2008, Empire reported Rogen and Goldberg would write an episode for the animated television series The Simpsons. He also voiced a character in the episode, entitled "Homer the Whopper," which opened the twenty-first season. Kevin Smith's romantic comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno rounded out 2008 for the actor. He and Elizabeth Banks portrayed the title roles: Pennsylvania roommates who try to make some extra cash by making an adult film together. After having difficulty trying to secure an R rating, Rogen commented to MTV, "It's a really filthy movie," but complained, "It's really crazy to me that Hostel is fine, with people gouging their eyes out and shit like that... But you can't show two people having sex – that's too much." The picture was distributed on Halloween by The Weinstein Company and disappointed at the box office. Along with Reese Witherspoon, he voiced a character in the animated science fiction Monsters vs Aliens (2009), which did well commercially, with a total of $381.5 million. He then starred in the Jody Hill-directed mall cop comedy Observe and Report, in which he portrayed bipolar mall security guard Ronnie Barnhart. The film opened in theatres on April 10. Critics noted a departure in Rogen's acting style from playing laid-back roles to playing a more sadistic character; Wesley Morris from The Boston Globe opined that "Often with Rogen, his vulnerability makes his coarseness safe... Ronnie is something altogether new for Rogen. Vulnerability never arrives. He's shameless." Later in 2009, Rogen starred in Apatow's third directorial feature, Funny People, with Adam Sandler. Rogen played a young, inexperienced comic while Sandler played a mentor of sorts to his character; the film had more dramatic elements in it than Apatow's previous efforts. Funny People was a commercial failure, coming short of its $75 million budget, despite positive reviews. Rogen hosted Saturday Night Live again in 2009, where the music video for the Lonely Island song "Like a Boss," in which he starred, premiered.
2010–2014: Venture into directing and controversy
After years of development, a feature film adaptation of The Green Hornet was handled by Rogen and Goldberg, with a theatrical release in January 2011. Rogen chose to do a re-imagining of the title character. He was executive producer of the movie and also cast himself as the main character. Rogen later admitted to having been overwhelmed by handling its $120 million budget. "It's insane. But it's not so much the specific amount of money that's stressful, it's all the things that go along with making a movie of that size." The actor also went on a strict weight-loss diet to play the slim crime fighter. The Green Hornet was a critical disappointment; Adam Graham of the Detroit News called it "a big, sloppy, loud, grating mess of a movie" and the Arizona Republic's Bill Goodykoontz found its story to have fallen apart. Nonetheless it still opened at number one at the box office, making $33 million in its opening weekend before going on to gross more than $225 million. In 2011, Rogen and Evan Goldberg founded the production company Point Grey Pictures, named after Point Grey Secondary School, which they both attended.
Rogen provided the voice and motion capture for the title character, a grey alien, in the science fiction comedy Paul (2011). The film also starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as a pair of geeks who help Paul escape from FBI agents. He reprised his voice role in Kung Fu Panda 2, as well as produced and took a supporting role in Jonathan Levine's 50/50. The dramedy about cancer was based on an autobiographical script by screenwriter Will Reiser, and was released in September 2011. The drama Take This Waltz, his fourth film of 2011, featured Rogen as a man whose wife (played by Michelle Williams) explores a new relationship with another man. From 2011 to 2015, Rogen played Dirty Randy, a librarian and pornographer, in the sitcom The League, in addition to writing two episodes. Rogen hosted the 27th Independent Spirit Awards in February 2012 and the road movie The Guilt Trip, also starring Barbra Streisand, was released in cinemas that December. The film was about an inventor (Rogen) who invites his mother (Streisand) on a road trip, as he attempts to sell his new product while also reuniting her with a lost love.
In 2013, Rogen along with screenwriting collaborator Evan Goldberg made their directorial debut with This Is the End, a comedy featuring Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride playing fictional versions of themselves facing a global apocalypse. The film received positive reviews and was number two in the box office on its opening weekend. Rogen recurred on the revived fourth season of the comedy series Arrested Development in May 2013, playing a young George Bluth Sr. (played by Jeffrey Tambor) in several flashback scenes. He co-wrote the foreword for the 2014 book Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris. and was reported be working on an adaptation with Goldberg.
Rogen hosted Saturday Night Live for a third time in 2014. That May, Rogen starred in Neighbors with Rose Byrne and Zac Efron, which was directed by Nicholas Stoller. In the film, Rogen and Byrne played a couple who come into conflict with a fraternity, led by Efron's character, living next door. The film became Rogen's highest grossing non-animated film, having grossed over $270 million globally. Rogen and Evan Goldberg co-directed and co-wrote the story to the action comedy The Interview, starring Rogen and James Franco as a pair of journalists who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after setting up an interview with him. In June 2014, North Korea threatened a "merciless" retaliation on the United States if it did not ban The Interview, labelling the movie "an act of war" and a "wanton act of terror," and Rogen himself a "gangster filmmaker." In December, Sony Pictures announced that it was cancelling the release of the movie after a cyber attack on the studio, allegedly tied to North Korea and threats made subsequently by Kim Jong-un. As a result of criticism of this decision, Sony subsequently made the film available online and it allowed theatrical release on December 25, 2014, drawing mixed opinions from film critics. Scott Foundas of Variety found the film to be "about as funny as a communist food shortage, and just as protracted," while The Daily Telegraph critic Robbie Collin opined that it was "a raucous, abrasive, snort-out-loud satire with mischief in its heart and methane in its gut." It grossed $11.3 million in theatres, but had strong online sales and rentals. Also in 2014, Rogen made cameo appearances in the comedy 22 Jump Street as the double of Jonah Hill's character and in James Franco's drama The Sound and the Fury as a telegrapher.
2015–present: Continued success and television work
Rogen portrayed Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak in the Danny Boyle-directed Steve Jobs biopic (2015), from a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. His performance in the film was widely praised and Rogen was commended for doing an "excellent job" by Wozniak himself. In November 2015, Rogen starred alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie in the Christmas-themed comedy The Night Before as three best friends who annually reunite to celebrate Christmas Eve. In 2016, he reprised his voice role in Kung Fu Panda 3 and in the Neighbors sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Along with Goldberg and Sam Catlin, Rogen developed the television series Preacher for Sony Pictures Television, which premiered on AMC in May 2016. The show is based on the comic book series of the same name created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon and follows a small-town preacher named Jesse Custer (played by Dominic Cooper) who possesses a superpower that allows him to command others to do as he says. His last release of 2016 was the animated comedy Sausage Party, which in addition to voicing the lead character Frank—a sausage who tries to escape his fate in a supermarket—he co-wrote and produced. Sausage Party became the most commercially successful R-rated animated film of all time, overtaking South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999). Associated Press critic Lindsey Bahr wrote of the film: "There is no one out there making comedies quite like Rogen and Goldberg. They are putting their definitive stamp on the modern American comedy one decency-smashing double entendre at a time."
Along with Evan Goldberg, Rogen directed and executive produced the science fiction comedy series Future Man, starring Josh Hutcherson, which premiered on the streaming service Hulu in November 2017. The same year, Rogen and Goldberg also co-directed a short commercial film for Walmart, titled Bananas Town; and Rogen portrayed the script supervisor, Sandy Schklair, to The Room director and star Tommy Wiseau (played by James Franco), in the Franco-directed film The Disaster Artist, based on the book of the same name, which chronicles the making of the 2003 film The Room. Rogen, as the founder of Hilarity for Charity, an organization that raises funds for Alzheimer's research and support, hosts an annual fundraising comedy event named after the organization. The sixth event was broadcast through the streaming service Netflix in April 2018. In July 2018, it was announced that Rogen was to voice public service announcements in his native Vancouver's TransLink transit system and Toronto's Toronto Transit Commission. Rogen co-starred alongside Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer as the love interest of Bell's character in the 2018 comedy-drama Like Father, directed by Rogen's wife, Lauren Miller. In 2019, Rogen starred opposite Charlize Theron in the romantic comedy Long Shot, as an unemployed journalist who re-connects with his childhood love interest and babysitter (Theron), who has become a major political figure.
Rogen co-starred in the 2019 remake of the animated musical film The Lion King (1994), voicing the warthog Pumbaa, who rescues the film's protagonist Simba with his friend Timon, voiced by Donald Glover and Billy Eichner, respectively. He sang three songs in the film, which were included on the soundtrack release. Rogen said that, "[a]s an actor, I don't think I'm right for every role — there are a lot of roles I don't think I'm right for even in movies I'm making — but Pumbaa was one I knew I could do well." Despite a middling critical reception towards the film, it became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and Rogen and Eichner received praise for their chemistry. In 2019, Rogen also produced the comedy Good Boys, starring Jacob Tremblay for Universal Pictures, and the television shows The Boys and Black Monday, directing the pilot for the latter show with Goldberg. Rogen filmed scenes for the James Franco film Zeroville in 2014, which was not released until 2019.
Political views and activism
Rogen has been active in raising awareness of Alzheimer's disease. No one in his biological family has the disease, but it runs on his wife's side and has affected her mother for several years. "I think until you see it firsthand, it's kind of hard to conceive of how brutal it is," Rogen said to CNN. "Until I saw it, you just don't get kind of how heartbreaking it can be." During the interview, he talked about how he tries to be emotionally supportive and around as much as he can for Miller's mother. Both he and Miller spoke to Larry King for A Larry King Special, Unthinkable: The Alzheimer's Epidemic, which aired in April 2011. Rogen testified about the disease and his charity before the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services on February 26, 2014. Rogen started the Hilarity for Charity movement, to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease among the Millennial Generation. Rogen and his wife also initiated the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Grant Program with Home Instead Senior Care to provide free at-home care to senior citizens.  On February 25, 2016, Rogen and Miller were honoured with the unite2gether accolade from unite4:humanity for their work promoting awareness and raising money for Alzheimer's research through Hilarity for Charity.
Rogen appeared in a Bud Light commercial celebrating LGBT Pride Month and the Supreme Court of the United States ruling that granted same-sex couples the right to marry. Rogen is a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity (Lambda Delta chapter) at the University of Vermont. He was initiated in April 2017 after his fourth visit to the campus for his Hilarity for Charity movement. Rogen is also a member of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and an open marijuana user. Rogen and his longtime friend and collaborator Evan Goldberg launched the cannabis company Houseplant in Canada in 2019.
In June 2018, Rogen was invited by Mitt Romney to speak at a seminar for awareness of Alzheimer's disease hosted by Romney in Park City, Utah. Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan was in attendance, asking Rogen for a photo after Ryan's children engaged Rogen in conversation. Rogen refused, stating in an interview with Stephen Colbert; "I look over and his kids are standing right there expectantly, clearly fans of mine, and I said, ‘No way, man!’” and telling Ryan “Furthermore, I hate what you’re doing to the country at this moment and I’m counting the days until you no longer have one iota of the power that you currently have.”
On July 3, 2018, Rogen criticized Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey, claiming he had a "bizarre need to verify white supremacists." Variety magazine reported that he was "directly in touch" with Dorsey over the issue. Several media outlets, including Fortune, speculated that Rogen was referring to alt-right figure Jason Kessler, and the Proud Boys in particular.
During his July 2020 promotional tour for his comedy, An American Pickle, Rogen said he was "fed a huge amount of lies about Israel" growing up. "They never tell you that, 'Oh, by the way, there were people there'. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open." He said that antisemitism remains pervasive and prevalent, but he rejected the argument that Jews would never be safe without a state. "You don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place."
Rogen began dating writer/actress Lauren Miller in 2004. The two met while he was working on Da Ali G Show. The couple became engaged on September 29, 2010, and married on October 2, 2011 in Sonoma County, California. Miller has had minor on-screen roles in a few of Rogen's films.
Awards and nominations
- "BIRTHS". Jewish Western Bulletin. May 13, 1982. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
Sandy and Mark Rogen are pleased to announce the birth of their son, Seth Aaron, 9 lbs. 2 oz., on April 15, a brother for Danya. Proud grandparents are Kelly and Faye Belogus of Vancouver and Annette and Al Robins, New Jersey. Great-grandparents are Edith and Joe Rogen of New York.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Seth Rogen.|
- Seth Rogen on IMDb
- Seth Rogen on Twitter
- Hilarity for Charity Seth Rogen's Foundation for Alzheimer's
- Seth Rogen appearances on C-SPAN