In the upcoming romantic comedy, 'Long Shot', Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a gifted and free-spirited journalist who has a knack for getting into trouble.
Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is one of the most influential women in the world as Secretary of State. When Fred unexpectedly runs into Charlotte, he soon realises that she was his former babysitter and childhood crush. When Charlotte decides to make a run for the presidency, she impulsively hires Fred as her speechwriter, much to the dismay of her trusted advisers.
Here, Seth Rogen answers some questions.
Do you think a comedy like 'Long Shot' can be as powerful as drama to send messages? I’ve worked on many dramatic films and we don’t put our comedies through any less intellectual scrutiny than I have noticed happened on the sets of what would be considered the most serious of dramas. The only difference is, we then try to elicit laughter. And it’s not funny if you don’t understand the characters and you are not invested in them, so laughter is also a good indicator that these other things are functioning well and that people are invested and they are enjoying it enough to hand themselves over. We really just wanted to make a movie that had a lot of ideas in it about identity and values and love and partnership. It’s about ideals and who you were as a young person versus who you became. In the best of worlds, we are making movies that are about the things that we think about when we are stuck in traffic or we are in the shower and it’s the stuff that occupies our thoughts and our curiosity. So even though there’s a lot of jokes in the movie, we try to on some level serve all those things up too.
Why don’t we see more movies where an average Jane gets the good-looking guy instead of the reverse? 'Cinderella' is the best example of that, and she’s an average girl, right? 'Pretty Woman' is a good example. She’s a prostitute and he’s a businessman. When it comes to power, for a while the man was always in a status position because men just always are! With this movie, it was very important to all of us that it was the woman who was in a power position and he lost his ego and himself to the point where he was willing to just support her and get over himself.
How did you and Charlize come together for the film? It’s a script that my company had been developing for around eight years. And around five years ago, we went to Charlize and her company and asked if they would produce it with us and if she would be in the movie with me. So we have been working on the script and finding a director and finding the time to make it and developing it and trying to keep up with the insanity of the times we live in!
Do you relate to the themes in the film, particularly the challenge of being true to yourself? I think it’s like a blown-up version of any person’s experience, which is like, ‘how much are you ‘you’ and how much are you not ‘you’?’ And how much do you hand over to ambition and success and how much can those things coincide or not?
Was the chemistry instant between you both on set? In real life it’s terrible, we do not get along at all! (laughs) There are some things where you just hope and chemistry is one of them. Honestly, you don’t really know anything until it’s happened. But I think you really just mathematically do your best guess and it just seemed we had interacted a few times and we met and it seemed like we would have a sensibility that would coincide and we seem to actually share a sense of humour on a lot of things, so it seemed like it would function. And if it did not, she is a good enough actor to make it look like it was working!
Do you think the loss of privacy will get so bad that people will no longer feel shame? I honestly think you will meet someone and be like, “oh, nice to meet you and I will now watch a video of you taking a sh.t”. Whatever your most private thing is, it will be accessible online, so shame will likely evaporate as a result. Jeff Bezos is in charge of one of the biggest companies on earth and is one of the richest men on the planet, and it just came out that he could not protect himself from having his most private moment captured by other people, and he was forced to come out and talk about it. Forty years ago, if someone high up did that, it could collapse the American economy. Today you are just like, “dick pics, whatever!” and talk about it for thirty seconds and move on with your day.
Do you think a lot of people are hiding things to protect their public image? I think the opposite goes on in Hollywood. People are pretending to date people they are not dating just to help their public image! Which is why I would like to announce that me and Charlize are – just kidding! My wife is cool with it, don’t worry (laughs). I am the third wheel! But I think if anything, people in Hollywood manufacture things that aren’t real, rather than hiding things that are.
Is it tougher to be a comedian during such a politically correct environment today? No, I think it’s a harder genre because it’s harder to create stories that do everything dramas do and also make you laugh. But you will never find me saying that politically correct culture is damaging comedy; I do not believe that is the case. I think like anything, it is something to be aware of and navigate, in a way that you feel is up to your moral standards. And those standards will be exposed today much easier than a few years ago because people are looking for it more. So, if you are a sh.tty person, people will find out about it because they are more honed into that kind of thing. I have two comedies coming out in theatres this year and I would never argue that they were harder to make because of how progressive culture has gotten. If anything, I welcome it and encourage it to progress at a much faster rate than it is currently going!