Inside the House Cafe on Beverly in L.A., Seth Rogen watches with great speculative interest as an e-joint rolls across the table and comes to rest an inch or two from his fingertips. One of his furry eyebrows hoists itself up, and if he suddenly latched onto the black THC-filled cylindrical object, it would certainly be no surprise. He’s one of Hollywood’s biggest potheads, gifted with the enviable ability to buckle down at work (acting, directing, writing, producing, everything, amazingly) while still consuming extravagant quantities of weed. He’s also got a terrific fondness for starring in movies, among them Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and 50/50, in which weed plays a central role, either thematically or recreationally, with him shuffling through, always the goofy but lovable “stoner idiot,” as Rogen likes to say.
The latest of these is This Is the End, which is destined to become the greatest spiritually uplifting, drug-and-Milky-Way-bar-drenched, end-of-the-world movie of all time, if not the only. It’s about a bunch of hard-partying actors – besides Rogen, there’s Danny McBride, James Franco and Jonah Hill, everyone going by their real names and playing weirdly misshapen, exaggerated or totally falsified versions of themselves – who come face to face with the apocalypse. The movie features lots of boozing, lots of talk about jizz, lots of references to Franco’s ambiguous sexuality, lots of limbs being hacked off, and lots of great cameos, from Emma Watson, Paul Rudd and Rihanna, among others. At the party to end all parties, Mindy Kaling says, “Oh, my God, if I don’t fuck Michael Cera tonight, I’m going to blow my brains out.” Shortly thereafter, Cera flings a pile of coke into Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s face and is seen getting all kinds of great oral sex. Meanwhile, The Office‘s Craig Robinson belts out a heartwarming song called “Take Yo Panties Off,” squeals like a frightened poodle with every new horror and utters one of the movie’s central truths: “We’re actors. We pretend to be hard, man. We soft as baby shit.” And then there’s Jay Baruchel, who can’t stand any of best-friend Rogen’s celebrity pals. The film itself is based on the 2007 short Baruchel and Rogen made called Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse, from a screenplay by Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg, who are also making their directorial debuts here and taking some pretty big chances. “A month or so before shooting started, the studio called and said, ‘We’re uncomfortable with you guys playing yourselves,'” says Rogen. “Evan and I said to them, ‘We’ll shoot a version where we’re not ourselves.’ And then we just didn’t do it. We were like, ‘It has to work, it has to work.’ We just thought that we were right.” Obviously, a lot is riding on the movie’s success, and no wonder a drifting, nerve-calming, stoner-pleasing weed-smoke haze hangs withal.
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“Actually,” Rogen says today, stroking his chin, “I consider myself more of a pothead than a stoner. A pothead has the connotation of being someone who just smokes a lot of pot and has stopped thinking about it. For the first few years that people smoke weed, they’re always trying to classify it and qualify it: ‘Is this bad weed, is this good weed, what is it doing?’ Then, eventually, it just is what it is, and I’ve been there for, like, 10 years. It’s so stupid, but I don’t think about it anymore.”
Right now, however, he is thinking about it. More specifically, he’s thinking about the alluring e-joint on the table in front of him. “I love these little things,” he’s saying. “I’ll be honest with you, I actually have one – but not on me.” His fingers stretch out, hover over the joint, seeming even to tremble. He wants it. It’s obvious he wants it. But then he shakes his head and shoves his hands into his lap. “You know,” he says, firmly, “I really am averse to being one of those guys who would use one of these things in a public place.”
Coming from Rogen, 31, this is an astounding thing to hear and suggests that he must be a changed man, more mature, more considerate, more able to take a stand contrary to his nature. It’s wonderful to behold, really, because, if anything, it means that should some apocalyptic-type shitstorm actually rain down tomorrow, Rogen, despite his easygoing, somewhat schlubby looks, may not be as baby-shit soft as all that. Maybe he possesses a whole panoply of hidden strengths and untapped talents and virtues. Maybe he’s exactly the kind of guy you’d want to hole up with when Beelzebub comes to town.
And, come to think of it, maybe the same could also be said of co-star pals McBride, Franco and Hill, all of whom have been friends for years. And yet so much about them, and how they might behave in a dire crisis, and what it might be like hanging in their orbit during such a crisis, is a question mark. It could be great or it could be dreadful, and there are certain things worth knowing in advance. Like, who among them would be most likely to turn tail and flee, leaving you to face the terrors alone, and who has actual acts of heroism in his past? Are any of them given to excessive farting or occasions of Tourette’s? Could one be more apt to forthrightly announce that he is going to go jerk off now and would one not be able to countenance such talk? Who would be happy to smoke a joint with you and who would suggest, almost pre-emptively, that there’ll be no pot smoking with him? Who’s stiff? Who’s loose? Who’s got a good joke to tell? To one contemplating a calamitous future, these seem like important questions. One does not want to spend one’s final hours in the company of a drip. Needless to say, interviews and interrogations are in order.
Here comes Danny McBride now, ambling in through the back entrance at the Musso & Frank Grill, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood and a chophouse currently best known for its ancient, spectral waiters who ignore patrons with slippery, wraithlike sang-froid. Taking a table, McBride, 36, finally manages to order a Heineken and the ground-beef steak – “I never get it anywhere but here, because it’s just bloody and good!” he nearly shouts – and then looks over at us.
We blink, momentarily distracted by the dude’s wobbling, spongy puddle of dark-brown hair and what an unlikely miracle it is that he should so successfully escape the wilds of redneck-y Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he was not only a theater geek in high school but also the president of his class and the homecoming king. He arrived in L.A. wanting to be a writer, only to make his mark first as a loud, obnoxious karate instructor in 2006’s The Foot Fist Way and most recently as a loud, obnoxious former baseball pitcher on HBO’s Eastbound & Down, which he also writes. In fact, when it comes to loud and obnoxious, McBride has a lock on the franchise, and in This Is the End, he’s more wacko bombastic than ever, yelping, “James Franco didn’t suck any dick last night? Now I know y’all are tripping!” You’d think he’d worry about typecasting, but he fears not. “I don’t take my acting career seriously enough to ever feel trapped,” he says. “I think of myself as a writer and can always write myself out of any hole I put myself into as an actor.”
Like he did with Your Highness, the sword-and-sorcery fantasy-stoner comedy that he co-wrote and starred in (with Franco) that was a big box-office bomb?
“Yeah,” he says, laughing and snorting. “I can make classics like that.”
We relax. If McBride can shrug off those kinds of rotten, sucker-punch jabs, we’re totally in his corner. He’s got a nifty sense of humor. But, of course, we must press on, to find out what else he can bring to the survivalist’s table.
“Well,” he says, “I have been in a few fistfights. One was a draw, but the other, I was on the school bus in seventh grade and this mean sack of shit we all called Hillbilly was flicking everyone’s ears. But when he flicked my ears, I pushed him, then he came back and punched me in the face, and I went and pulled some kind of Bruce Lee shit where I pulled myself up between two of the seats and kicked him in the face and he went flying back. It was amazing. It was great. Also, I used to be able to run fast, but not now. Hmm. I don’t think I’d be too good in the apocalypse.”
We’re not so sure about that. We think McBride’s got more going for him than he lets on. For one, he has seen the recent Reese Witherspoon video, where a drunken Reese stands up to a cop about to arrest her drunk-driving husband, and he says, quite rightly, “It’s pretty awesome. I’d hope my wife would do the exact same thing if I was being arrested.” Also, the last time he saw a doctor was in college (“It’s all hocus-pocus”), and yet he’s responsible enough to still go to the dentist (“That’s good, right?”). Moreover, though he has slowed down some since the 2011 birth of his son, Declan, he still knows how to have a good time. “I’m not the kind of person who needs alcohol to loosen up, but I do love tequila and it gets things going quick. I’m a happy drunk, and when I go out, I lose count.”
Has he ever had sex in the bathroom at a party, the way Michael Cera does in This Is the End?
He frowns. “I think when I was in college, I feel like I did, yeah.”
We like this answer. It’s both honest and cagey. We also like how he is with his fans. “Everyone usually offers drugs or wants to take shots with you, which can be cool, depending on who’s asking.” And how he handles girls who come on to him, a married man. “When it happens, I’m always just sort of friendly and just keep moving, saying, ‘Very nice, yes, it would be nice to suck your tits, but I’m with my wife now, so I will see you later.’ ”
Is he in favor of weed?
He nods, vigorously. “I love it, yeah. I like smoking weed and drinking beer, and when I was younger I liked doing mushrooms. That’s my triumvirate right there.”
And if some weed were available right now, in the form of an e-joint, would he smoke some? We produce the thing and roll it toward him.
“Yes, of course,” he says, taking a drag and exhaling an amount of THC vapor that is frankly amazing. McBride holds up the e-joint, narrows his eyes and by way of explanation says, “This isn’t my first rodeo.”
The idea of spending crisis time with McBride is becoming more and more appealing. He really is nothing like the dickweed characters he plays. “And besides not going to the doctor,” he says, “I don’t get sad and I don’t have any phobias. The only thing I get stressed out about is having to get dressed up to walk the red carpet. I hate walking the red carpet. It instantly puts me in a bad mood and fucks me up.”
His steak arrives, and his eyes light up, but we have one more question before settling down to eat. Should it become necessary, could he handle not being able to change his underwear for a week?
He puts his knife down. “Well, it’d be bad news,” he says. “People would complain. After a day, even I’d complain. ‘That’s what it smells like down there? Jesus Christ. I need to go see a doctor!'”
He whoops a laugh, as do we. But for the first time, we are concerned about McBride’s suitability. Really? After just a day, it’s that bad?
Franco – lots of his friends just call him that, Franco, unless you knew him when he was a kid and then you maybe called him Teddy, the expanded familiar diminutive of his middle name, Edward, or else, not by him but by classmates (you know how cruel they can be), Teddy Ruxpin – steps out of the sunlight and into the dim environs of L.A.’s very luxe W Hotel. Removing his shades, he is immediately set upon by some movie-studio type, but then extracts himself, enters into the coziness of the adjacent lounge and sits at a table, upon which he rests a book called Art and Culture, by art critic Clement Greenberg.
“I’m going to Yale,” he says. “This is for my oral exams. I have 150 books to read.”
Isn’t this just like Franco? Isn’t this just what we’ve come to expect? Actor, writer, poet, English and film-school professor, holder of numerous MFA degrees, lover of academia, perpetual student, performance artist, soap-opera thespian and failed Academy Award co-host – his multifarious interests confound in a way that connects him directly to one of Greenberg’s more famous pronouncements: “I feel that works of art which genuinely puzzle us are almost always of ultimate consequence.” Not that Franco, 35, is a work of art, but then again, in his refusal to be just one thing or even three things, he kind of is. And he certainly is a bit of a puzzle.
Just look at him today, in his plaid flannel shirt, and his jeans, and his knock-around boots, with his brilliant white-toothed smile, his flop of hair, and those eyes, so heavy-lidded, so on the verge of sealing shut, and so misunderstood to be those of a hardcore, Rogen-like pothead. In fact, the sense of it is so overwhelming that we produce our e-joint and proffer it, even though we already know he does no drugs (and drinks no booze).
He waves it off and says, “I haven’t smoked in decades.”
So what does he do to relieve stress?
He leans back. “I don’t know.”
Is he a compulsive masturbator?
“No. I used to be. But not anymore.”
When was the last time he smoked?
“The last time, I got in a lot of trouble.” Silence. Tons of silence. Will the silence ever end? Finally, he says, “I got in a car accident and was arrested. I was almost 17 and on probation for graffiti and drinking incidents. I think I wasn’t even supposed to be driving at that point. I remember the judge saying if I hadn’t gotten such good grades, she’d probably have put me in juvenile, but she gave me one more chance, although I was made a ward of the state.”
We nod. We smile. But it sure does seem like some deeply off-kilter stuff for the Palo Alto-raised, math-whiz son of a writer-actress mom and a Silicon Valley businessman dad. No matter. By the age of 20, he’d moved to L.A., joined the cast of Judd Apatow’s short-lived, cult-fave TV show Freaks and Geeks (which also starred Rogen), and has gone on to become a little bit of everything. He was Oscar-worthy in 127 Hours, the only watchable thing in Eat Pray Love, available for high-minded fare like Milk, equally willing to head to the multiplex in Spider-Man and to indie-exploitation flicks like Spring Breakers. If he isn’t cinema’s Walt Whitman, we don’t know who is. But, in truth, none of that has anything to do with what we’re after.
Have there been any overt acts of heroism in his past?
He squints. “When I was 13, I saw a friend being picked on by a group of pretty scary people. The guy was put on his knees and being humiliated. No way could I have taken any of them, but I walked over and helped him to his feet and said, ‘Let’s go.’ And we left. Maybe my stepping in made them realize how horrible it was.”
Any survival skills of note?
“I trained in boxing for a movie I did called Annapolis. I got my pilot’s license making Flyboys. And from 127 Hours, I learned to preserve your water and that you can drink your urine.”
And has he ever drunk his own urine, as Craig Robinson does in This Is the End?
His stoner eyes slide shut, only to reopen somewhere down the pike. “I don’t think so,” he says. “I can’t recall.”
Has he ever behaved in a way he is ashamed of?
He bobs his head. “When I was 13, there was a guy who I was really jealous of, because he went out with this girl I had a huge crush on. I knew she had dated one of a group of tough guys at a rival school, so I made an anonymous call and said, ‘So-and-so was seeing her at the same time you were seeing her.’ They came to beat the guy up, but he wasn’t there, but they were in a fighting mood, so they beat up some other poor guy. I felt really bad about that.”
All in all, we’re feeling pretty good about Franco. He seems to have a well-formed moral center. Also, even though he’s a teetotaler, he still likes going to parties (“if it’s the right crowd”), where he’ll drink Sprite. And if he told a joke at the party, he says it would likely be this: A man walks into a therapist’s office wearing only spandex underwear, and the shrink says, “Well, clearly I can see your nuts.” Good stuff! We approve!
That said, during the past hour, Franco has spent almost too much of his time engaged in an internal dialogue. It could be that the only way he knows how to avoid saying certain things, like whether he has a girlfriend or not, is to say nothing at all. But we are concerned – and then greatly relieved when we ask him whether he’s an excessive farter, and he reacts much like a bird to a rain puddle. He brightens up immediately and begins splashing his wings. “A farter? Yeah! How did you know? I don’t do it in public, but when I’m at home in bed, I’ll fart! And on a plane, I’ll let it go!” And then he utters a verity that can’t help but solidify his right to be called a work of art of ultimate significance. “On a plane,” he says, “nobody can hear you fart.”
Nonetheless, we’re undecided about Franco’s value in a critical situation, mainly because while he’s here in the flesh, he often hardly seems here at all, so what good could he really be in any kind of nasty mano-a-mano situation? He’s a good guy, no doubt about it, but he’s also a very abstracted guy. In other words, as Whitman once wrote, Franco is probably saying of us right now, “We were together – all else has long been forgotten by me,” and we feel we deserve better.
While waiting for Hill to arrive at a cramped Manhattan seafood joint called Ed’s Lobster Bar, we start thinking about Rogen. Thinking about him makes us laugh, just how he looks, that humorous, thin-lipped, frog-faced grin, that round head, that adenoidal phlegmy voice that surely comes from some deep inner frog, all of it made of a piece by the mushing-together melding powers of his cherished weed. We start chuckling, and we’re still chuckling when Hill shows up.
“Seth!” we say, coming out of our reverie.
“No, I’m Jonah,” Hill says, blankly. “That’s a great way to start.”
We blanch, sputter, cough and try to explain ourselves, but Hill is apparently in no mood to cut anyone any slack, which may just be how he is. “He is serious, he is, which I’m not, and neither are Franco or Danny,” Rogen had told us. We asked Rogen if he had any tips on a suitable approach. “I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a good question.” And so here we are, with Hill already knitting his brows together, which is unfortunate, since it’s not that great a look. Also, we’ve been fans of his ever since Superbad and his Oscar-nominated performance in Moneyball and are looking forward to him in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Just to break the ice, we ask about his day, what he did this morning, what a typical Jonah Hill morning would be. He says one thing he does is ride the elliptical. We wonder how long he rides it for. He says he doesn’t know, maybe about 30 minutes. We ask if he does pushups and stuff like that or what?
He stiffens and says, “My workout routine is of little relevance.”
Blithely, we continue. Does he have any survival skills that he’d bring to a crisis?
“I care a lot about people, especially the people I value in my life, so I’d be thoughtful and not just look out for myself.”
This is nice, but it isn’t exactly the kind of answer we’re looking for. Has he ever done anything that might be called heroic?
“I’ve definitely tried to make people’s lives better when they’re going through really hard times, and I think that’s the most accessible form of heroic behavior.”
This is not going to be easy. But, OK. Has he ever been in a fistfight?
“I fought a lot when I was younger. Some were good, some were bad. I don’t fight anymore, though. I’m an adult man,” he says, kind of laughing and sneering at the same time. “I use my words.”
We press on. Rogen had told us about a line Hill didn’t want to say during the filming of This Is the End: “What we were saying to him was, ‘Tell God you’ll suck his dick if he kicks Jay out of the house.’ And I think he said it once, like, ‘God, I will suck your dick if you kill Jay.’ And we were like, ‘Say it again!’ And he was like, ‘I don’t want to do it again.'” We bring this up.
Hill looks off and very slowly says, “Seth and Evan are the most talented comedy writers at work today, and I have ultimate faith in them. But I’m a religious guy, I do believe in God and I’m Jewish, and I just couldn’t imagine being happy with that later in life. I just didn’t want to say it.”
The waiter comes back, asks if we want a menu. Hill shakes his head. He evidently has no plans to eat here or even drink more than a glass of water. He’s slouching in his chair, stretching out his already stretched-out shirt. We can see the way this is heading and remind him that this is for our magazine’s weed issue and so – Well, he cuts us off right there. “I don’t even smoke weed,” he says, in such a pre-emptive, aggressive way that we figure he has heard about our little e-joint, so we decide to keep it hidden. We explain our mission to him, how we’re looking to find out who might be the best This Is the End guy to hang out with in a calamity and that it’s not exactly a serious undertaking, all we’re attempting to do is briefly assay the personality in front of us. He smiles, and for a while, at least, he’s game. “When I first hung out with Seth,” he says, “I did smoke weed, but it just makes me think too much. I can’t enjoy myself when I’m on it.” After that, he tells us about the time he got a second-degree sunburn all over his back but was too embarrassed to ask friends to rub lotion on it, so he went to CVS, bought a Swiffer, gobbed aloe vera on the Swiffer, and Swiffer’ed his back himself. “It was the most sad, dark, physically and emotionally painful thing I’ve ever had to do.” We comment on his ingeniousness. “I got it done,” he says, “and that’s all that matters.” Has he ever acted in a spineless way? “When I was 22, I wanted to break up with this girl, but I was too cowardly to do it, so I told her I was going on a trip around the world to find myself, and I actually did it, when I didn’t want to go on the trip at all. I hate being by myself. I hate it. But I was 22. I’m 29 now. I’d never do that now. I’d be direct.”
OK, we get it. He’s an adult. He’d use his words. So, anyway, what kind of a farter is he?
His eyes nearly jump out of their sockets. “I’m not answering that dumb question! I’m not that kind of person! Being in a funny movie doesn’t make me have to answer dumb questions. It has nothing to do with who I am.”
We sigh. We’re at a loss. He grew up in L.A., his parents had money, he moved to New York to attend college, he somehow befriended Dustin Hoffman, who helped him get a small part in I Heart Huckabees, then he met Rogen, who helped him get cast in Superbad. Everything has gone swimmingly, he’s a talented guy, and now he’s acting in all kinds of movies, not just funny ones. “I’ve done one of the biggest challenges you can do in Hollywood, which is transition from being a comedic actor to being a serious actor, and I’m really prideful of that,” he says. “I could have made a billion dollars doing every big comedy of the last 10 years and didn’t, in order to form a whole other life for myself. Now I have fulfillment doing both.” That being the case, though, you’d think he’d be able to relax a little, open up, take it easy (and perhaps find a replacement word for “prideful”). But he can’t, and so, today at least, he continues on his mulish path.
Has he ever talked about jerking off, the way Seth is known to?
“No! We’re completely different people. You know that, right? It seems to be a big part of Seth’s life. I imagine maybe it’s because he’s married.”
We decide not to parse the subtext here. Instead, we ask if he’s got a girlfriend.
For how long has he been single?
“Don’t worry about it.”
Frankly, we have no idea what to make of Hill. He’ll open up about his twice-a-day showering habits and say, “I’m not OCD about it. I just like feeling fresh and smelling good.” But ask him what kind of cologne he’s wearing, and he’ll button his lips, maintaining that he has no clue. Later, he’ll say, “In This Is the End, I’m overly nice in a really false way and really deep down have a lot of jealousy and nastiness and am really into my fame and success. In real life, I’m the polar opposite.” And then, if you remind him that Apatow once called him “angry, nerdy,” he’ll again make with the better-left-unexamined subtext and say, “Yeah, there was probably an angry time for me. But I couldn’t be a less angry person. Judd maybe thinks of himself that way. But I haven’t worked for him in five years. I adore him. But I’m fucking 29 years old and not some angry kid.”
It’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s nothing left to learn about Hill under present circumstances. We decide to give him the benefit of the doubt, however. There’s much more to him than what he’s shown. In fact, one day he could possibly end up being the one we’d most like to go into the apocalypse with, should certain other pleasing qualities besides twice-daily showers present themselves. But for now, it’s time to get the hell out of here.
Back in L.A. at the House Cafe, Rogen has had a sudden change of heart. The last time he smoked pot was an hour or two ago, and he wants what he wants. To hell with what he said before. He plucks the e-joint from the table and takes a nice, satisfying hit. He smiles. He’s happy. “I once got to smoke weed with Snoop Dogg and his guys, and it was actually like a dream come true,” he says. “I was like, ‘I’m going to keep smoking no matter what,’ and I did it for five or six hours. At the end of the night, one of the guys looks over at me and says, ‘Seth, you can really smoke, man!’ and it was like the greatest compliment ever.”
He honks out one of his great honking laughs, he hands us the joint, we take a drag and pass it back, he hits it again, then puts it down, not too far from the clutches of his meaty left hand.
Where once we were psyched to think he’s a new man, able to resist the temptations of his beloved weed, now we’re worried that he really may be soft as baby shit. With that in mind, as the waiter delivers beer and steak tartare, we ask Rogen if he’s ever behaved poorly in a crisis situation.
“In high school, we would do stupid things a lot, and one time we tried to buy tons of weed off these guys and they robbed us with butcher knives. As they were robbing us, I suddenly got defiant and was like, ‘I don’t want to give them anything!’ And then I just ran, and I kind of left my friend there. But then I realized that and went back: ‘Let’s run! Let’s run!’ It was a complete shitshow. Then sometimes I’d get mugged in high school and panic, but as I got older, I’m a little bit better at dealing with stuff like that.” He takes a sip of his beer, frowning. “Yeah, but, well, I was once eating lunch with Jason Segel, sitting outside with our trays of food, when a homeless guy started accosting these two rich ladies on the street. Jason looks at me and says, ‘Let’s go!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, let’s go,’ so I stand up with my tray, and he’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s ready to spring into action. I go, ‘Oh, I thought we were going to go sit over there.’ My instincts were bad. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, Segel is a lot more noble than I am.’ But that was 10 years ago, and I hope I learned from the experience.”
We bet that he has. We like Rogen. We like how single-minded he has been his entire life. Raised in Vancouver, the son of radical Jewish socialists (his words), from the age of 13 on, he had no other careerlike interests but comedy; earned his first paycheck writing gags for a local mohel, $50 an hour (sample bit: “Think how cool he’ll be. He’ll be the only kid in the nursery who’s been in a knife fight!”); dropped out of high school and moved to L.A. at the age of 16 to join the cast of Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks; persuaded best friend Evan Goldberg to leave Canada and come join him; continued to work for Apatow in movies, which culminated in his starring performance in 2007’s Knocked Up; and, out on his own, reached another kind of apogee with Superbad, which he started co-writing with Goldberg when they were 13 and is one national treasure of a filthy funny movie. Sure, he’s had bombs (The Green Hornet), but more often than not, his pothead instincts have served him well (Pineapple Express, 50/50), and we have no doubt that these days he would come to the aid of rich ladies in distress.
On the other hand, he says he has no survival skills whatsoever, nor do any of his friends. “Very few people I know actually know how to chop wood and shit like that. We grew up doing theater shit!”
Here’s another thing about Rogen: He’s the kind of guy you can’t help but want to see succeed. What about starting a fire with a magnifying glass? He must be able to do that, right?
“Yeah,” he says. “I could probably do that. I smoked weed with a magnifying glass once.” OK. And he must have played some sports in high school, right? He shrugs. “Well, I earned a brown belt in karate, so I could beat the shit out of people, but that’s hypothetical, since it hasn’t been tested in a long time. Also, I played rugby, so I guess I could scrum, if that came up in an apocalyptic situation.”
We grin and add a few more check marks to his plus column.
And if you like talking about jerking off, Rogen, as advertised, has got to be your man. First of all, the movie has tons of it, including an argument between Franco and McBride about McBride’s jizz habits that seems to go on forever. “Who doesn’t love that?” Rogen says, enthusiastically. “We’re trying to bring it to a new level. You just say it more and louder!” And then there’s his own personal masturbation history, which he is more than happy to share. “If I have a busy schedule, I can go a couple of days without sex, but I’ll still jerk off regularly.” He holds up his cellphone. “See? I have a phone with a big screen.” He scratches his neck. “Actually, I jerk off more frequently than anyone has sex with their wife.” He searches the past for more. “When Evan and I were roommates, we were very open about jerking off. ‘I’m going to go jerk off now, so don’t fuck with me.’ We wrote together and would wake up, write and write until we fell asleep. We’d just fucking write all day. At some point, we realized it was a better use of our time if we actually jerked off at the same time – in our own rooms, obviously – but the idea was, ‘OK, you’re going to jerk off? I guess I’ll go jerk off too, so we aren’t taking turns jerking off. We’ll get more done that way.’ It was synchronized jerking off. We’d share our porno stash, too. It was a communal stash. Now there’s the Internet for porn, so now you share passwords for sites – VideoBox, for one – with your friends.”
This is all good to know and accrues to his benefit. Plus, despite his inability to resist weed today, he does have a history of being able to change. “For years, I used to wear my socks inside out, but then six years ago, I was like, ‘Why the fuck are my socks inside out?’ and I stopped.” So there’s that. And furthermore: “My dad was diagnosed with very minor Tourette’s syndrome, which I have, too. I used to shake my head all the time. No outbursts, just twitching. I’d flare my nostrils. It was superweird. But my parents were kind of into hippie shit, so they had me cut out sugar, wheat, dairy, all this stuff, and it helped. I mean, I still get twitchy sometimes, but not in a major way.” Finally: “I don’t get drunk that often anymore. When I was younger, I’d just drink a ton at those fucking parties and do stupid shit sometimes. Every once in a while, I’ll encounter someone who clearly thought I was an asshole the last time they met me. But then, one time, after one of those fucking stupid MTV awards shows, I went out drinking with the cast of the Jersey Shore, and I actually don’t remember a large part of what happened in the second half of that night. The next day, I had the worst hangover of my entire life. It lasted several full days. It was unbelievable. I was dead, and that was the most fucked up I’ve gotten in the past few years.”
We ask if any of his castmates are particularly obnoxious farters.
“I won’t out them,” he says, which allows us to add yet another mark to his plus column, “but I will say I’m a pretty bad farter from time to time. I have a Japanese toilet at home that cleans my ass for me – it’s great. I only like to shit at home, so I get some pretty bad farts during the day.” He stops, ponders this, continues. “Actually, when I’m abroad or something, I sometimes bring toilet paper with me. I brought toilet paper when I went to Mexico with my wife. Charmin Ultra Strong. A good, manly toilet paper.”
Rogen takes another hit of the e-joint. We ask him for his opinion, whether it’s safe to fly with one of these things. “Just stick it in your bag,” he says. “TSA doesn’t give a shit. They’re looking for bombs and shit. They don’t even know what this is.” That makes sense, and we decide to become drug smugglers for the first time ever. Only, at the meal’s end and after the last beer is gone, Rogen holds the e-joint up in the air, says, “Do I keep this? I’m taking it!” pockets the thing and vanishes. He’s permanently bogarted our e-joint! It happens so fast, we hardly have brains enough to object, but then we realize he is only keeping us from a lifetime of painful post-arrest Midnight Express jailhouse bunghole blues. We want to thank him for his kindness, but it’s too late. We are delirious anyway. We can think of no one better to share a global meltdown with. McBride has that smelly-underwear issue, Franco that inability-to-be-here-now issue, Hill that I’m-a-serious-actor issue, but there’s nothing off-putting about Rogen. He’s such a cool guy that we wish we could hang around him until the end of days. Plus, we’re huge fans of Charmin Ultra Strong and anyone who shares his porn-website passwords. Seriously. Need we say more?
This story is from the June 20, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.