Interview: Seth Rogen talks about the near miss that inspired ’50/50′

Seth Rogen sort of knocked me on my ass at Toronto this year.

I’m used to enjoying his work.  I’ve liked him quite a bit ever since “Freaks and Geeks,” and I still remember meeting him at the “Anchorman” premiere and really gushing about how much I liked his work on that show, and how I hoped I’d see him in more stuff soon.

So that happened.  Cut to now, with him having achieved the status at this point of being Seth Freakin’ Rogen.  He’s big money now.  He’s made it happen.  He is an unlikely movie star simply because of what a cool, normal, regular guy he is.  He’s bright, he’s sharp, but he’s normal.  He’s got this instant accessibility, like he’s someone you went to school with or knew from camp or something.  He’s made quite a career as America’s Smoking Buddy, and watching him start to really expand the range of what he plays and add new notes to the material he picks is gratifying.  The best parts of “Freaks and Geeks” had nothing to do with comedy.  That show reached deep, and even at that point, Seth did some things that I still think are bold and real and not for laughs.

By now, the story has been often told about how the new film “50/50,” written by Will Reiser, is about the real situation that Reiser went through when he found out he had cancer, and Seth Rogen basically appears as himself, Reiser’s friend, in the film that Rogen and Reiser’s other close friend Evan Goldberg produced.  I interviewed Reiser in Toronto, as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and of course I had to sit down with Seth.  I had just seen his other film at Toronto, “Take This Waltz,” as well, and I found myself really impressed by where he is now, where Jonah Hill is now… it’s just nice to see what filmmakers are giving them to do, what they’re writing for themselves, what works for them.

I could tell that Seth was more invested in “50/50” than “Take This Waltz,” if only because of what the film represents for him, what sort of a near miss he had with his friend, and what this process has meant to all of them in terms of healing.  I think it’s going to reach a lot of people in the same way when it’s released today, and I hope people take a chance with it.

“50/50” is in theaters today.