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:: Spotlight :: Knocked Up - Interview with Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

A lounge room on one of the upper floors of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne was the scene where I had the pleasure of meeting Hollywood stars Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann. They looked impressively over the iconic St Patrick’s Cathedral as we settled into a fun-filled discussion about the new comedy “Knocked Up”. Leslie’s husband Judd Apatow is the director of the feature, his second film since making The 40 Year Old Virgin. Many of the same ingredients, as far as cast and crew, were again assembled for this film and our guests, having arrived in Australia the day before, were looking forward to a few enjoyable days across the country.

Was it the impression that this movie was going to be a follow-up to The 40-Year-Old Virgin?

Seth - We didn’t look at it as a sequel of sorts, more a case of us (several of the cast and crew) working together again. It’s a good way to be – maybe we can do this for another twenty years and guarantee work.

Leslie - Judd met Seth when Seth was sixteen years old. Judd was so excited when Seth fell in love so he’d have a whole set of experiences to write about. Judd likes to follow people on their journey.

For those who worked on both movies, was it easier the second time around?

Seth - The studio didn’t bother us as much (laughs). We had a lot of freedom. We had made one movie that people had liked so instantly there was way less pressure on the whole thing. I remember Judd saying on the first two weeks of 40 Year Old Virgin, “This was the biggest mistake of my entire life. I’m never directing a movie again. I should just produce movies.” He never said anything like that during Knocked Up.

It’s rare for a romantic comedy to run over two hours, but this kept everyone engaged throughout the whole time…

Leslie - It certainly is rare for a comedy to run for anything like two hours. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be a winner, but it was fun making it. It comes across that way. I’m glad you liked it and that it didn’t seem too long.

You have a great rapport with Katherine (Heigl) in the movie…

Leslie - Katherine is a strong actress. During the auditioning process she was the only one who looked good alongside Seth (he being a big loud personality). He looked like he was going to crush everyone else.

Seth - Yeah, they were all small (laughs).

Some moments of the movie reminded me of the great Porkys films. Was that any sort of influence on how this was made?

Seth - What I really like about Porkys is how they all actually seem like friends. That’s the best part of it. That group of guys really came across as friends in the movie. We didn’t really see much of them after the Porkys films, though. We were going for a similar thing in that this group of guys would make you believe that they hang out together. We did that by having a group of guys that do nothing but hang out together. (the scene where one of the guys peeps into the birth room during the delivery is very funny).

I noticed that with Alison’s pregnancy the possible abortion issue was never raised…a good thing too…

Seth - It had to be a non-issue in the movie. We just knew that she wasn’t going to get an abortion. What’s shocking is that people have a problem with that. One interviewer said, “That’s why abortions were invented.” I thought, “What!! Every drunken girl having sex with an idiot has an abortion??

The simple, answer is that the movie wouldn’t have been very long. We shot different versions of attitudes towards it or talking about it. People will admire the film for that.

Your character was on the verge on being unsympathetic (stressing out as a mother/wife) but you soon became very likebale…

Leslie - People would say, “You’re the only unsympathetic character in the movie” I like the idea of playing a more honest version of a marriage and not the sitcom version of a marriage. I think that a lot of married couples can relate to the problems that Paul (Rudd)'s character and I had in the movie. It’s taken to some extreme, but more realistic and interesting than those who just gaze into each other’s eyes. We didn’t want to become the fighting married couple.

The movie is good for acknowledging the rise of the underdog, in that a “no-hoper” can win over an attractive young women…

Seth - Our characters in the movie are definitely not the cool guys in the room. When we were in the club talking about Munich instead of hitting on women, that’s the scene that always hits close to home for me (laughs). That’s exactly what I do when I’m at a bar. I’m never the cool guy in the room so it’s nice to show the other side of things. Normally, comedy will side with the outcasts. Yes, it’s a voice that’s still out there.

Are you doing any stand up comedy when not working in movies?

Seth - No stand-up nor television. When I’m not working I do nothing. I’ve been doing some talk shows lately. It’s like stand-up at times.

Your two children are in the movie and they were terrific. Are there any ongoing plans for them in movies?

Leslie - The children did a great job. I don’t think they’ll pursue anything regular.

Seth - I’m writing a little movie right now (laughs).

Leslie - They both enjoyed it. It was fun because they’ve grown up around these people. They did what Mum and Dad and their friends were doing and they loved being part of it. They happened to be really good and funny.

I suppose there must be lots of additional material for the DVD release…

Leslie - There will be an hour of extras for the DVD and another version of the movie (additional two hours).

Seth - We shot this fake documentary. The joke was that I was the tenth person cast as Ben Stone in the movie and we had to fire nine other actors before they cast me. We invited every actor we knew to come and shoot scenes in the actual movie. We’d create an argument or they would quit so they’d get to me.

Leslie - It was mainly a way for Judd to act (laughs). He was good.

Seth - We shot one and a half million feet of film which is around four times more than most movies.

The relationship with Judd (Apatow) would have been one where he gave you free reign on the set…

Leslie - Judd would just say “action” and we’d roll and roll. He’d write as we were rolling. We just kept going until he’d run out.

Seth - Judd let us go at our own free will. He’d hurt you in the right direction, eg. talk about this or about that. It makes it exciting to act because you don’t know what’s going to happen.

What are your future plans?

Leslie - There’s a movie titled Drillbit Taylor which comes out around Thanksgiving time, and it’s pretty funny. It has Owen Wilson in it.

Seth - There’s Super Bad, which Judd produced and I co-wrote. It’s another high school movie; a bit filthy but funny and sweet. I’ve been writing that for about twelve years (laughs). It’s taken this long to write. They’re finally making all the movies that we’ve written for the past ten years.

Knocked Up is on general release across Australia from July 5, 2007

Seth Rogen with Katherine Heigl
Leslie Mann