We’ve done a few set visits with Seth Rogen now and he is always very accommodating and incredibly giving with his time. The Green Hornet was no different. While he knew we had an interview scheduled with him later on in the day, he came over and talked to us for a few minutes anyway when we were on set. We thought he was just coming over to say hi, but instead he chatted with us in between takes and talked to us about whatever we wanted with regards to the film which was very cool because we got more of our questions answered. Rogen candidly talked about what it was like to finally shoot this movie and shared other interesting tidbits with us about what it’s like behind the scenes.
Q: We saw the first half of the lobby scene with the car. Is that one of the biggest set pieces?
Seth Rogen: We filmed it like a month ago maybe. There’s a lot. That’s all part of the end of the action set piece, which is very long and elaborate. It’s all part of this gigantic movement that kind of leads through all those sets you saw. And it keeps going actually. I don’t know if I would qualify that as some of the bigger stuff in the movie, but it’s definitely all part of this. Me and Evan talk a lot about escalation and we never… we find a lot of good action movies where the middle is where the best action sequence is, which is always really weird to us so we wanted to make sure we didn’t do that. We wanted good action throughout but we wanted make sure the end is the blow-your-mind orgasm that you want at the end of an experience like that.
Q: So that’s the car in the newsroom and the whole…
Rogen: There’s more, there’s a lot more, but we haven’t even filmed all – they’re literally filming it on second unit as we speak right now. It will be thorough in its excitement.
Q: What’s the style of Michel Gondry in 2nd unit – is he still heavily involved?
Rogen: Oh yeah, definitely. He and Vic Armstrong, our second unit director, have very long conversations about it, and we storyboard it and conceptually…
Q: How’s Vic Armstrong?
Rogen: He’s awesome, he’s really cool. What’s funny is he’s Indiana Jones’ stunt double and what’s funny is I wear a hat in the movie. Apparently, I would never guess – when you have a hat with a brim like that, there’s a lot of complications that come into play when you’re doing stunts because you can’t see. You can see very little. Because he was Indiana Jones, he’s always like, "Now watch the brim, you’ve got the brim of the hat going." He knows that because he was Indiana Jones. He’s the best brimmed-hat stunt man there is. It’s all very singular, actually. It’s shocking when you watch it. You forget some parts they shot and what we shot. We’ll come in and do stuff and they’ll be there doing stuff and it’s seamless. I’m always amazed at how the lighting looks the same more than anything. As someone who’s nerdy about movies, I’m shocked that John is in communication with Eric second unit DP well enough to literally cut things shot for shot and you can’t tell that a whole separate crew lit it and filmed it and all that. Which to me is just crazy. It happens on every movie I’ve ever seen in the last 15 years probably but I’ve never done a movie with this much second unit so it’s cool to see how it all works and comes together. It’s really neat.
Q: We’ve spent the last two years asking about this project. How does it feel to be finally shoot it?
Rogen: (laughs) It’s unbelievable, it’s really exciting. It’s been really fulfilling. I can’t believe we got to do it. We got to make the exact movie we wanted to make. We got Gondry as the director, we got the cast that we never would’ve dreamed of like, it’s one of those things where it’s almost like every time we had a set back, something much better ultimately would arise. We’re in a really good position now. We’re really all extremely happy, everyone’s getting along, which is great. We feel like we’ve really accomplished something because so many people said we never would do it, more than anything.
Q: How different is the chemistry between you and Jay, which is what it would’ve been with you and Steven, with him being older than you and almost like a mentor?
Rogen: Yeah, it’s a lot different. Exactly. It’s fine. We say that constantly. We wrote a lot of different versions of the movie depending on different cast members and directors, things of that nature and me and Evan [Goldberg] were just talking the other day about how happy we are that it turned out like this because we think that the dynamic me and Jay have around the same age, we seem like peers, you see where we start becoming super heroes – there’s like real youthful exuberance to it. I think the fact that we’re around the same age makes my treatment towards him and his attitude towards me much funnier than it would be if he was way older and I was way younger for example, I think it plays a lot more like a natural dynamic that people know in their day-to-day lives than kind of this older guy-younger guy thing. It was an odder dynamic that way so it worked out a lot better this way.
Q: It looks like some of the super hero stuff coming out next year really bends the conventions of what we’ve seen so far, like "Kick-Ass" or this. These are movies that really play fast and moves with what you’re used to in the genre. Are you excited that now you’re at a point that they’ve done so much standard stuff in there that you guys can really riff on it, try different things and studios seem more open?
Rogen: Definitely, I think it’s exciting. People are aware of it. It’s something that I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a kid, so to me and Evan, it’s always been inherent. We’ve always known who Jor-El was. Now a whole new generation of kids know who that is. So it’s nice as a fan to finally have pop culture catch up with your sensibilities for one thing and once that happens, you can subvert the genre a lot more because everyone’s far more aware of what it is that you’re subverting. The fact that everyone’s seen a hundred super hero movies at this point makes it a lot easier to play with the conventions because people know what to expect when you do something different. They know that you’re subverting it, and it’s something that as a comic book fan, it’s nice that it’s reached a wide enough audience at this point that you can almost deal with it as though the whole world was these nerdy comic book fans. It’s just part of the culture now. Everyone knows that Deadpool was part of the Weapon X program. The fact that that’s common knowledge among kids these days is mind-blowing to me. If you had told me that when I was a kid, "One day, every kid will know this sh*t," it’s crazy and it’s really exciting now to be able to use the fact that everyone has this knowledge and this expectation from these movies to do what it is that we want to do creatively.
Q: In the movie, is Britt a comic book fan?
Rogen: In the movie, he’s not particularly nerdy or into comic books, but he’s like how everyone is now. He’s like the guy who would go see "Wolverine" and "X-Men." We didn’t wanna make him a particularly large comic book fan, but I feel like today just by being the type of person who engages in pop culture, you are almost by default a comic book fan. The fact that "Dark Knight’s" one of the biggest movies ever means that everyone’s kind of a comic book fan now, and we didn’t feel a need to bring up "Amazing Stories" or whatever. It felt inherent in kind of what the world is at this point basically.
Q: The set design is very interesting.
Rogen: Apparently. That’s what I’ve noticed. It’s funny when you walk into these sets, and sometimes you’re like, here’s what I’ve concluded: Britt Reid’s a big fan of guitarists, but not vocalists. There’s a lot of Santana and Joe Satriani posters around this room.
Q: And a monkey head. What’s the monkey head about?
Rogen: The monkey head. We encourage collaboration amongst our set dressers and production designers, and they pitch us stuff and sometimes we’re just like, yeah why not. Put it in there. (laughs) I would be lying if I would say we hand-picked every single thing in this room under meticulous scrutiny. Lots of it is the prop guy will be like, "Hey, this is fun." Ok, throw it in there. (laughs)
Q: Is the ceiling in the movie?
Rogen: I don’t know if you do ever actually see the ceiling. You might. There’s a part where Kato swings off the chandelier and kicks me in the bits, so the angle might catch the ceiling. (laughs) I don’t know how we’re going to film it.
Q: Did you ever get a chance to talk to George Trendle at all on the phone about your take on his character or anything like that?
Rogen: We did talk to–never him specifically, but–some of his family, the Trendles were here. They’re extras in one of the scenes actually. So yeah, we were able to talk to them about it a little bit and just kind of about the movie and their expectations and desires, and our kind of questions as to how it all came into being in the first place and all that. It was pretty interesting.
Q: Why did you choose to have the movie set in present day? The original Green Hornet is mostly in the ’50s and ’60s.
Rogen: We knew we’d get one shot to make our version of a super hero movie, and to us, it just needed to be as relatable to our experience as possible. And we don’t know anything about the past, really. And we knew a lot about present day so, we thought in order to not divert an effort that could be used to writing a good story and jokes into researching what it was like in 1960, we just decided to set it now, this is what we know, and we feel like it’s already modern story. And our approach to it could probably not really logically occur in the ’60s, I would imagine.
Q: Last time I talked to you, you were not so sure about the Lone Ranger, but we see the poster.
Rogen: Boom. Lone Ranger. We got one. (laughs) Prop clearance. It’s one of the things where we weren’t sure who owned it. Someone heard Disney owned the rights to it or something like that, but the way these things get compartmentalized, that’s the comic book. So someone else owns the rights to the comic book. So we were able to get that. We got it in there. It’s a nod. A subtle nod.
Q: Did Jay ever land punches or kicks on you?
Rogen: No, thank God. Me and Jay have not hurt each other. No one’s been hurt at all. Pretty good.
Q: Obviously Kato has always traditionally been a great fighter. How good is your version of the Green Hornet as a film? You start as a certain level and get better? Do you think he’s learning over the course of the movie?
Rogen: Yeah, we approach it as an origin story. When you find me, I’m in no way the type of person that would ever care to stop a crime or be equipped to stop a crime. We really wanted to chart in a way, the evolution of just your normal everyday dude into what the world views as a super hero. If we could make that a logical and enjoyable journey to watch, then that to us was really interesting.
Q: Is there a training montage?
Rogen: I think there is actually no training montage. There isn’t really. We have our own version of one, but it is not a traditional training montage. Everyone loves a training montage, but again it’s so hard. Again, being aware that we are the 500th superhero movie to get released this year, I mean you have to be aware of all that, and try to approach all those things slightly differently than you know all those other movies are gonna approach it.
Q: Talk about Cameron Diaz’s character and working with her.
Rogen: She’s great. She plays Lenore Case who is Britt Reid’s secretary. And her role throughout the movie has a very distinct evolution that I probably shouldn’t ruin here and now, but she’s fantastic. She’s a true delight to work with. She’s really funny, she’s just great. We couldn’t believe we got her to be in the movie. It was a real pleasure every day. It was surreal. It’s one of those things too – I’m talkin’ to Cameron Diaz right now! (laughs) Very weird.
Q: Does she end up as someone’s love interest?
Rogen: She uh… There is romantic desires targeted in her direction. (laughs)
Q: Is her character aware that you’re Green Hornet?
Q: We heard you actually let Christoph write some of his own dialogue? Has he changed the character since he’s come on the film?
Rogen: Yeah. When he came on, it was at a very open place, the character. We had kind of been formulating a version of it that we were not entirely pleased with.
Q: Heard about that Jamaican take.
Rogen: Where’d you hear that from? (laughs)
Q: Neil [Moritz].
Rogen: So yeah, Neil went for it. So when that dissolved ultimately, we saw as a real opportunity to kind of get back to a version of the character that we were more interested in all along. Which was definitively not from the Bahamas or any Bahamian region. Then we started talking to Christoph and we were giving him what we initially liked, the idea, the whole take of the character we initially liked, and he really, thank God, liked that idea also. But then as far as the specifics of how the character spoke went, there was actually a lot of different version of that because we had been through a lot of different versions. We just had Jamaican-ized the script, then de-Jamaican-ized it, so that was a whole process, but there was a few key little speeches here and there that Christoph said, "This is what I really like. This type of language I think would be great to carry throughout the whole character." And largely through the course of a day, Evan and him sat down and rewrote almost every scene that he has in the whole movie. And throughout the different scenes as the shooting comes up, we re-approach it and talk about it and knew little quirks come up as we’re filming and Christoph likes to include some of those, and we’re very open to it. He had a very strong take of what he liked that we had done, and we wanted to provide him all the tools to create the best character that he could with that. So it’s really exciting to watch and he seems to be enjoying it. It’s always great when you can collaborate with someone who is open in the same way you are. He’s written a lot of stuff that I’m very happy I’ll get credit for, ultimately. (laughs)
Rogen was joined by screenwriter Evan Goldberg and you can check out that interview by clicking ‘Next’!