Seth Rogen and James Franco may find that the popular old catch phrase, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade," no longer applies to them. For the duo, it's likely now: "When life gives you 'Pineapple Express,' light it, take it in, hold your breath and make the most hotly anticipated comedy of the summer."
Riding high on the success of last year's comedy hits, "Knocked Up" and "Superbad," Rogen and his frequent partners in crime, writer Evan Goldberg and producer Judd Apatow, collaborated again on "Pineapple Express."
The film follows the intertwining tales of slacker Dale Denton, played by Rogen, and his pot dealer Saul, played by Franco, who are forced to work together after Dale witnesses a murder committed by the city's pot overlord, who leaves only a roach of the elusive Pineapple Express strain of marijuana as evidence.
Dale and Saul quickly realize that they aren't just paranoid, they're actually being pursued by everyone from Asian ninja drug gangs, to a crooked cop, played by Rosie Perez.
The two stars sat down with Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers to discuss their inspirations, influences, and the very real physical dangers of their newly-created genre on "Popcorn with Peter Travers" on ABC News Now.
"Seth plays a role that I think is fairly close to himself. Except for the fact that he's a process server," Franco said. "Just read 'process server' and read it as 'screenwriter,' and then that would be Seth's life."
Franco's character uses his entrepreneurial skills to support his grandmother, affectionately referred to as Bubby.
"He's a very lonely guy being a pot dealer. It's a lonely role in life," Rogen said. "I feel like pot dealers are kind of taking a hit for society. Everyone needs weed, but no one wants to be friends with the pot dealer."
"I think it's similar to a porn star," Franco said. To which Rogen quickly added, "Everybody likes watching porn, but nobody wants to be friends with the porn star. So, it's not really fair."
While writing the screenplay for the film, Rogen drew on firsthand experience for inspiration.
"Normally (when buying weed), you want to get in and out as fast as humanly possible, because you're doing something illegal, it's unpleasant, and I get nervous really easily," he said. "I've had guys that are kind of like his character, that want you to just hang out or clearly just lonely, so they kind of engineer reasons that you need to hang out with them and not just buy weed."
Franco and Rogen's onscreen chemistry is a direct result of years of friendship. The two first met on the set of Apatow and Paul Feig's television cult classic "Freaks and Geeks" in 1998, and share an almost brotherly rapport.
"Seth likes to tell the story about how the first time he met me was actually the moment he first thought about having sex with a man. I felt the same way, but he was underage," Franco said.
"It was pre-'To Catch a Predator,'" Rogen said. "We were way ahead of that curve also."
The role of Saul the drug dealer was originally written for Rogen. In table reads and rehearsals, it came about that the opposite would work out better.
"Judd and James actually both started having the thought that it could be more interesting if we switch roles," Rogen said. "James just wanted the Saul role because it's true that's the role he would never normally get to play."
"I can't see it working the other way, because my character wants to be friends with his character more than his character wants to be friends with me. I kind of feel like that's how it is in real life," Franco said. "I'm interested in what he's interested in and he just doesn't reciprocate."
"I've tried to," Rogen responded. "This is like a conversation I've had with my girlfriend."
With "Pineapple," writers Rogen and Goldberg attempted to fuse their favorite disparate genres of the stoner flick and big budget action movies, resulting in the mutant "stoner action-comedy" tag. Rogen, in fact, loves action movies so much that he even dragged co-star Franco to the opening night of "300."
"You've never seen a guy more excited for anything in your life," Rogen remembered of himself from the experience.
For Franco, the event was rather different. "I was the one guy who fell asleep," he said.
"So, those were the types of movies I always wanted to make, and I knew that comedy was definitely where we've made the name doing," Rogen said. "It's a lot of fun to do, but we thought if we can kind of start injecting some of these other kinds of genres that we're big fans of into what we've been doing, maybe that can make an interesting combination."
The film was Rogen's first foray into the action genre. Franco is known to action fans as Harry Osborn, son and heir of the Green Goblin from the Spider-Man films.
However, Franco was not immune from the perils of the stoner-action comedy. During filming of the memorable forest chase scene, fueled more by scripted THC-induced paranoia than actual danger, Franco ran into a tree, splitting his head open and resulting in stitches.
"I really ran into the tree, and if you laugh at that scene, you're laughing at me cutting my head open," he said.
In order to make the movie, some standards of the loveable slacker genre had to be subverted, as well.
"Cheech and Chong paved the way and we owe a lot to them, but if you watch those movies, there's not too much plot or story," Franco said.
"And if you're not really stoned, you probably will not enjoy those movies all that much," Rogen added. "So, there was a lot of discussion about how do you make a movie that's about weed, but you don't really need to be stoned out of your brain to enjoy it. The answer was to try and add more of an emotional story to it, and things you'd expect more out of the comedies we've been doing, but just kind of add the weed as one of the many elements that the comedy comes from."
However, the two want audiences to thoroughly enjoy the "Pineapple Express" experience.
"I want them to feel happy, I want them to feel like they saw something they've never seen before, and I like it when people truly wonder how we got this movie made, which is something I wonder every time we watch it, you know, " Rogen said.
"I think it's exciting and something that you feel you shouldn't be watching, in a weird way. It feels a little against the rules of kind of these big studio movies to me, so, that I find cool."
The duo admitted that, if approached for a sequel to "Pineapple," they will be taking a far different tone.
"We keep thinking, why is weed the only drug that gets its own comedies? Why are there no crack action-comedies?" asked Rogen. "'Judgment P,' that's what we're calling it. 'P2: Judgment P.'"