In Hollywood, Seth Rogen is an unlikely superhero. At 28, Rogen is known for playing the chubby and lovable pot head in films such as "Knocked Up" and "Pineapple Express."
But in the new action comedy, "The Green Hornet," Rogen breaks with tradition and plays the title character; a trust-fund-baby-turned-crime-fighting bad boy.
In real life, Rogen, a Canadian former stand-up comedian, seems too modest and insecure to play the lead in an action movie. He laughs during silence in interviews. He actually drives a Toyota Highlander hybrid that he recently realized "... is a car marketed to fathers in their 30s."
Rogen even openly admits to reading " ... Web pages [from his critics]," adding they're " ... painful [to read] sometimes."
In "The Green Hornet," based on radio serials from the 1930s, Rogen's character, Britt Reid, undergoes a dramatic transformation. At the beginning of the film, Reid is a media mogul's son who spends his days partying in Los Angeles. But when his father dies suddenly from a bee sting, Reid is forced to take over the family business.
In the process, Reid befriends one of his father's former employees, Kato (played by Jay Chou). Along the way, Britt and Kato become vigilantes (the Green Hornet and his sidekick), hire an assistant (played by Cameron Diaz) and are confronted with fighting the L.A. crime lord, Chudnofsky (played by Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz).
Rogen not only slimmed down dramatically for the role but co-wrote "The Green Hornet" screenplay, despite many obstacles making the film.
"There were times leading up to getting ['The Green Hornet'] made where we were, like, 'Is it worthwhile?'" Rogen admitted.
Not only did the script go through many revisions, ("I'm half convinced that no one read 'Pineapple Express' before we made it," Rogen said, laughing) but there was a change of director (from Stephen Chow to Michel Gondry) a late change in casting Kato (from Stephen Chow to Chou), and debate on whether the film would be shot in 3-D or 2-D (it was mostly shot in 2-D and "upconverted" to 3-D in post-production).
On top of everything, Chou spoke very little English at the beginning of filming the movie. Rogen said, "I'll be honest, everyday [I] would be, like, 'Can you understand him?' It was one of the most unbelievable reliefs of my life the first time we showed the movie to people and the lady asked the audience, 'Who here understood Jay Chou?' and everyone raised their hand."
The 'Hornet' as Tax Write-Off?
Amid negative buzz from bloggers and self-proclaimed comic book purists, Rogen, who could have given up on the project, said, "instead of complaining how much superhero movies suck ... me and Evan [Goldberg, who co-wrote the movie] actually sat down [to write one]."
If "The Green Hornet" is a box-office success, the 3-D gamble may elevate Rogen to superhero status. If not, Rogen joked, "we could just be some big tax write-off."