Seth Aaron Rogen (/ˈroʊɡən/; born April 15, 1982) is a Canadian-American actor, filmmaker, and comedian. He began his career performing stand-up comedy during his teenage years, winning the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest in 1998. While still living in his native Vancouver, he landed a supporting role in the series Freaks and Geeks. Shortly after he moved to Portland, Oregon for his role, Freaks and Geeks was officially cancelled after one season due to low viewership. Rogen later got a part on sitcom Undeclared, which also hired him as a staff writer.
After landing his job as a staff writer on the final season of Da Ali G Show, for which he and the other writers received an Emmy Award nomination, he was guided by Judd Apatow toward a film career. Rogen made his first movie appearance in Donnie Darko with a minor role as a rebellious student in Donnie's high school classes in 2001. Rogen was cast in a major supporting role and credited as a co-producer in Apatow's directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. After Rogen received critical praise for his performance, Universal Pictures agreed to 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. Since 2016, he has been an executive producer and writer on AMC's television series Preacher.
Rogen and his comedy partner Evan Goldberg co-wrote the films Superbad, Pineapple Express, 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 Horton Hears a Who!, the Kung Fu Panda film series, Monsters vs. Aliens, Paul, and Sausage Party.
Rogen was born in Vancouver. His mother, Sandy (Belogus), is a social worker, and his father, Mark Rogen (born 1953), worked for non-profit organizations and as an assistant director of the Workmen's Circle Jewish fraternal organization. Since Rogen's father is American, he has American citizenship by birth. He has described his parents, who met on kibbutz Beit Alfa in Israel, as "radical Jewish socialists." Rogen has an older sister named Danya. Rogen attended Vancouver Talmud Torah Elementary School and Point Grey Secondary School, incorporating many of his classmates into his writing. 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: "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 Yuks. With his deadpan humour, he won the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest at 16 years old. Also at age 16, Rogen's 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. Despite a strong academic performance, Seth 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.
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 male 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.
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. Rogen hosted Saturday Night Live on October 6, 2007 and again on April 4, 2009.
Rogen's projects in 2008 included Jimmy Hayward's Horton Hears a Who!, an animated film based on the Dr. Seuss book, that Rogen voiced a character in. 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, 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 on August 6 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 that the actor 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, but has a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rogen at the 2013 WonderCon
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.
He reprised his voice role in Kung Fu Panda 2, as well as produced and took a supporting role in 50/50, from Mandate Pictures. The dramedy about cancer was based on an autobiographical script by screenwriter Will Reiser, and was released in September 2011. In mid-2010, Rogen shot scenes for another upcoming film, Take This Waltz, with Michelle Williams. Another of his movies, Paramount Pictures's road movie The Guilt Trip, also starring Barbra Streisand, was released in cinemas in 2012. 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 movie 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.
He co-wrote the foreword for the 2014 book Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris. He is also working on a movie adaptation of the book along with This is the End collaborator Evan Goldberg.
On April 12, 2014, Rogen hosted Saturday Night Live, with musician Ed Sheeran performing. That year, Rogen starred in Neighbors, with Rose Byrne and Zac Efron, directed by Nicholas Stoller, and released in May, and The Interview, opposite James Franco and Lizzy Caplan, released in December. Rogen and Evan Goldberg co-wrote and co-directed the latter film. In June 2014, North Korea threatened a "merciless" retaliation on the USA 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". On December 17, 2014, 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 North Korean Leader 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. 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. In November 2015, he starred in the Christmas-themed comedy The Night Before, and in 2016, he reprised his voice role in Kung Fu Panda 3 and starred in Sausage Party, voicing a sausage attempting to survive.
Rogen with his wife, Lauren Miller, at the 69th Annual Golden Globes Awards in 2012
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, where they continue to reside. Miller has had minor on-screen roles in a few of Rogen's films.
Rogen has been outspoken about awareness of Alzheimer's disease. No one in his biological family has it but it runs in 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 Hilarity for Charity movement, to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease among the Millennial Generation. On February 25, 2016, Rogen and Miller were honored with the unite2gether accolade from unite4:humanity for their work promoting awareness and raising money for Alzheimer's research through Hilarity for Charity.
Rogen is also a member of NORML and an open marijuana user.
Rogen is a purported muse for the gay community, calling himself a "Bear Icon" in an appearance on Conan. He is the subject of an art book titled simply Seth, a side project of PINUPS magazine by print artist Christopher Schulz, which depicts Rogen in various sexual poses.
Critical response to the films Rogen has starred in or produced.
|Film ||Rotten Tomatoes ||Metacritic |
|The 40-Year-Old Virgin ||85% ||73 |
|Knocked Up ||90% ||85 |
|Superbad ||88% ||76 |
|Pineapple Express ||68% ||64 |
|Funny People ||68% ||60 |
|The Green Hornet ||43% ||39 |
|50/50 ||94% ||72 |
|The Guilt Trip ||38% ||50 |
|This Is the End ||83% ||67 |
|Neighbors ||73% ||68 |
|The Interview ||52% ||52 |
|The Night Before ||66% ||58 |
|Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising ||62% ||58 |
|Sausage Party ||84% ||66 |
|Average ||71% ||63 |
Awards and nominations
|Year ||Award ||Category ||Title of work ||Result ||Notes |
|2000 ||Young Artist Award ||Best Performance in a TV Series – Young Ensemble ||Freaks and Geeks ||Nominated ||Shared with cast |
|2005 ||Primetime Emmy Award ||Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program ||Da Ali G Show ||Nominated ||Shared with writing staff |
|2006 ||MTV Movie Award ||Best On-Screen Team ||40-Year-Old Virgin, TheThe 40-Year-Old Virgin ||Nominated ||Shared with Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Romany Malco |
|2007 ||Satellite Award ||Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy ||Knocked Up ||Nominated || |
|High Times Stony Award ||Stoner of the Year ||N/A ||Won || |
|Teen Choice Award ||Choice Movie: Chemistry ||Knocked Up ||Nominated ||Shared with Paul Rudd |
|Dublin Film Critics Circle Award ||Breakthrough Award ||Knocked up ||Nominated || |
|2008 ||Canadian Comedy Award ||Best Writing (Film) ||Superbad ||Won || |
|Canadian Comedy Award ||Canadian Comedy Person of the Year ||N/A ||Won || |
|MTV Movie Award ||Best Comedic Performance ||Knocked Up ||Nominated || |
|MTV Movie Award ||Breakthrough Performance ||Knocked Up ||Nominated || |
|ShoWest ||Comedy Star of the Year ||Knocked Up and Superbad ||Won || |
|2009 ||Canadian Comedy Award ||Canadian Comedy Person of the Year ||N/A ||Won || |
|MTV Movie Award ||Best Fight ||Pineapple Express ||Nominated ||Shared with James Franco and Danny McBride |
|Teen Choice Award ||Choice Movie Actor: Comedy ||Observe and Report and Pineapple Express ||Nominated || |
|2010 ||Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award ||Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie ||Monsters vs. Aliens ||Nominated || |
|2011 ||Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award ||Best Film ||50/50 ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & Ben Karlin |
|2012 ||Golden Globe Award ||Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical ||50/50 ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & Ben Karlin |
|Independent Spirit Award ||Best Feature Film ||50/50 ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & Ben Karlin |
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award ||Best Supporting Actor in a Canadian Film ||Take This Waltz ||Nominated || |
|2014 ||Critics' Choice Movie Award ||Best Comedy ||This Is the End ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & James Weaver |
|Denver Film Critics Society Award ||Best Comedy Film ||This Is the End ||Won ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & James Weaver |
|Empire Award ||Best Comedy ||This Is the End ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & James Weaver |
|MTV Movie Award ||Best Fight ||This Is the End ||Nominated ||Shared w/ James Franco & Jonah Hill |
|MTV Movie Award ||Best Musical Sequence ||This Is the End ||Won ||Shared w/ Backstreet Boys, Jay Baruchel & Craig Robinson |
|American Comedy Award ||Funniest Motion Picture ||This Is the End ||Won ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & James Weaver |
|American Comedy Award ||Best Comedy Actor – Film ||This Is the End ||Nominated || |
|American Comedy Award ||Best Comedy Director – Film ||This Is the End ||Won ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg |
|American Comedy Award ||Best Comedy Screenplay ||This Is the End ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg |
|Saturn Award ||Best Horror Film ||This Is the End ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & James Weaver |
|Young Hollywood Award ||Best Cast Chemistry–Film ||Neighbors ||Nominated ||Shared w/ cast |
|Young Hollywood Award ||Best Bromance ||N/A ||Nominated ||Shared w/ James Franco |
|Women Film Critics Circle Award ||Merry Macho Award ||The Interview ||Won ||Shared w/ James Franco |
|2015 ||People's Choice Award ||Favorite Comedic Movie ||Neighbors ||Nominated ||Shared w/ Evan Goldberg & James Weaver |
|People's Choice Award ||Favorite Comedic Movie Actor ||Neighbors ||Nominated || |