Cornering the market on comedy stoners, Seth Rogen’s career has risen with the likes of Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill and James Franco to ride a new wave of big-hearted, bad-mouthed slacker movies throughout the 00’s and 10’s. Side-stepping into drama, kids’ animation and big-budget superhero franchises, Rogen is one of Hollywood’s most unassuming leads – the only guy who could do voices in Sausage Party and Kung Fu Panda 3 in the same year. As An American Pickle hits streamers, it’s time to round up Rogen’s greatest hits as an actor.
10‘The Interview’ (2014)
The Interview is not Rogen’s best film. Actually, it’s not even really that funny. But the film more than earns its place on this list by being the only comedy that almost started World War 3. Rogen stars alongside James Franco as the producer of a celebrity chat show who gets recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean despot Kim Jong-un. Understandably, the real Kim wasn’t too happy with the film (which includes a scene where he shits himself in embarrassment whilst singing along to Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’), and he threatened to nuke America if they released it. Things escalated when North Korea hacked the emails of Sony Pictures, and the film was quietly slipped out on digital platforms in retaliation.
Rogen’s best line: “Everybody pees and poops. Where would it go otherwise? He’d explode.”
9‘The Lion King’ (2019)
Whatever you thought of Disney’s pixel-perfect remake of their own hand-drawn classic, there’s no doubting that Rogen was perfectly cast as the lovable farting warthog Pumba. Where emotions were hidden behind glassy CGI animal eyeballs, Rogen made sure the heart of the film was kept as warm as possible – with his ‘Hakuna Matata’ being the only song that bettered the original. Until someone makes a movie about Rolf from the Muppets, there’s never been a more obvious voice role for Rogen.
Rogen’s best line: “Hakuna Matata!… Most people get a bigger reaction when we say it.”
8‘Zack And Miri Make A Porno’ (2008)
The orbits of Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow briefly collided in the ’00s – with Rogen bridging the gap between two different generations in Smith’s Zack And Miri Make A Porno. In fact, the whole film sits perfectly between both directors, paying off as a modern sex comedy with an old-fashioned heart, a ‘90s indie and a 00’s frat packer in one. Rogen and Elizabeth Banks are the best friends who decide to pay their rent with home-made porn. Cameras are broken, sheets are stained and hearts are broken – but a sweet love story somehow survives.
Rogen’s best line: “Porn has gone mainstream. It’s like Coke or Pepsi with dicks in it”
7‘Take This Waltz’ (2011)
2011 was Rogen’s most mainstream year to date – leading big new DC superhero franchise The Green Hornet, voicing the alien in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Paul, and returning to voice Mantis in Dreamworks sequel Kung Fu Panda 2. But of everything he made that year, it was his smallest film that’s now most worth the rewatch – a downbeat dramedy about a struggling relationship that still feels box fresh. Michelle Williams steals the film, but it stands as one of Rogen’s most honest and heartfelt performances.
Rogen’s best line: “Hey Margot. I just bought a new melon baller and I’d like to gouge out your eyes with it.”
Seth Rogen’s most famous film is also one in which he barely cameos. Calamitous, crude and also kind of heartwarming, the much-loved, sweary slacker’s debut feature as a writer marked him out in the industry. Proving he could make up the jokes as well as deliver them, Superbad followed hapless teens Seth (Jonah Hill), Evan (Michael Cera) and McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as they chased girls into cool, jock-filled parties they definitely weren’t welcome at. Some of the gags are questionable now (even Rogen has admitted), but at the time, Superbad jumped straight to classic status and remains one of the most-quoted high school movies ever.
Rogen’s best line: On being allowed to carry a weapon: “It’s like having two cocks. If one of your cocks could kill someone.”
5‘Pineapple Express’ (2008)
Things escalated pretty quickly for Rogen in the mid ’00s – writing Superbad and starring in Knocked Up in 2007 before almost instantly making the Jerry Bruckheimer version of both films the next year with Pineapple Express. Pitched as the ultimate stoner comedy, Rogen co-wrote the script for himself, James Franco and Danny McBride – a full-on high-stakes big-budget action blockbuster that still sort of just wants to kick back with a joint.
Rogen’s best line: “Couscous – the food so nice they named it twice.”
4‘The Night Before’ (2015)
Most modern Christmas films are rubbish. Worst still are the “grown-up” Christmas films that try to walk the line between sentiment and snark – with The Night Before standing as one of the rare exceptions that actually gets it right. Somehow, a film that hinges around a scene where Rogen’s coked-up nose drips blood into Mindy Kaling’s drink also manages to feel like a warm and fuzzy swansong about family and friendship. By the time Miley Cyrus leads everyone in a chorus of ‘Wrecking Ball’ it already sounds like a Christmas classic.
Rogen’s best line: The one he snorts right before instantly panicking, sweating through his Hanukkah jumper and video calling his wife to try and convince her to abort their baby.
3‘Bad Neighbours’ (2014)
Rogen has never looked much like he wanted to grow up which made him perfect for Bad Neighbours – a film about a 30-something couple who still think of themselves as college kids until a bunch of actual college kids move in next door. Amid all the hilarious feuding with Zac Efron’s frat king, it’s a rare comedy that completely nails such a relatable stage of arrested development – with Rogen and Rose Byrne both brilliant as the couple that aren’t quite as young as they like to think.
Rogen’s best line: “I have a darkness inside of me and you will see it!”
2‘Funny People’ (2009)
Everyone knows the best Apatow/Rogen partnership was TV’s Freaks And Geeks – the show that started both of their careers – but this is a film list so we’ll plump for Funny People instead. Long, self-indulgent and a big stretch from Knocked Up, Funny People felt like an inside joke for stand-ups, but what made it work for everyone else was the sad, sweet character study of Adam Sandler’s spiralling celebrity and Rogen’s wide-eyed chancer – a smarter, funnier A Star Is Born with comics instead of country singers.
Rogen’s best line: “I don’t think I can hide my Judaism. My face is circumcised”.
1‘This Is The End’ (2013)
Remember when the apocalypse was funny? Way before 2020 ruined films about the end of the world, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg directed their best friends in the greatest disaster movie of the decade – an absurdly meta take on celebrity culture, privilege and the Backstreet Boys. This Is The End saw Rogen play himself alongside Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Rihanna, Channing Tatum and practically everyone else – escaping the wrath of God by smoking weed in James Franco’s Hollywood home.
Rogen’s best line: “Just answer me one question: Is Michael Cera’s butthole as adorable as I pictured?”