Don’t ‘knock’ Seth Rogen, the new overweight Canadian Jewish boy leading man
Seth Rogen feigned surprise when a CBS host joked that he did not see the
actor in a Hollywood manual about leading men.
“You didn't see 'overweight Canadian Jewish boy' in there?” the actor
Critics say Rogen is spot-on as the leading man of Judd Apatow's “Knocked
Up,” a slacker-zhlub with a “Jewfro” who impregnates a gorgeous, ambitious
journalist (Katherine Heigl from “Grey's Anatomy”) during a drunken
one-night stand. Thereafter, the slacker struggles to become a mensch —
amid plenty of filthy jokes and kvetching. When Heigl informs him that they
did, indeed, have sex that drunken night (he had been too intoxicated to
remember), his response is a despondent “oy.”
Like Apatow's 2005 hit, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” is a
raunchfest with a heart – in large part due to Rogen's “crudeness mixed with
sweetness,” Time said. Rogen's Jewish persona doesn't hurt either: “There is
a classic clash in film comedy between Jewish guys and non-Jewish women
trying to figure each other out,” Apatow said at a press event. “Whether
it's 'When Harry Met Sally' or 'Annie Hall,' it's always funny to see the
Jews trying to make women happy, and failing.”
Rogen insists he's playing a protagonist who is much like himself, which has
been his preference as an actor. His “Knocked Up” character, Ben Stone, is
also a Jew from Vancouver who loves to imbibe and to watch the naked scenes
from sex-romps such as “Porky's.” (He and his Jewish roommates share an
“Animal House”-style pad where the stoner conversations range from chicks to
Jewish movies). But while Rogen professes to be a slacker — and projects a
laid-back demeanor — his achievements suggest he is anything but.
After entertaining classmates at his Jewish day school and camps for Habonim
Dror, the Labor Zionist youth movement, Rogen took a stand-up comedy
workshop at age 12, he told the Journal in 2001. He made his professional
debut at 13 with jokes about his bar mitzvah, his grandparents and the
Israeli Habonim counselors who allegedly made him march around while toting
At 16, after his second TV audition ever, he landed a role on Apatow's
sitcom, “Freaks and Geeks.” To shoot the show, Rogen moved with his family
to Los Angeles, where his father, Mark, became the assistant director for
the local branch of the Workmen's Circle, a Yiddish cultural organization.
Seth learned about the Mamaloshen in order to emcee fundraisers for the
Three years later, Apatow reportedly hoped to cast Rogen as the star of his
Fox college sitcom, “Undeclared,” but network executives allegedly nixed
that idea because, they said, the actor didn't look like a leading man.
Instead, Apatow gave Rogen a small role in the series as well as a seat in
the writer's room; Rogen was stunned because he knew zilch about sitcom
writing. The closest he had ever come to college life was a 1998 Habonim
trip to Israel, which was “kind of like living in a dorm,” he said.
Rogen likened that sitcom experience to taking a college class with an
extremely tough professor.
“Judd is a good friend, but he's extremely, brutally honest,” Rogen said at
the time. “He'll say, 'this sucks, it's not funny, rewrite it.'”
All that rewriting paid off when Rogen subsequently won Emmy nominations,
writing stints on programs such as “Da Ali G Show” and roles in Apatow
movies such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
“Virgin” made a star out of another Apatow protege, Steve Carell — and
“Knocked Up” could well do the same for Rogen, critics say. The 25-year-old
is filming his next starring vehicle, the stoner thriller-comedy “The
Pineapple Express.” And in August, Sony will release “Superbad,” the
semi-autobiographical teen flick Rogen penned at 14 with his current writing
partner, Evan Goldberg (the two boys had met — where else? — at a bar
Rogen has another couple movies in the works.
“If things go well for him at the box office, Los Angeles restaurants may
have to deal with an infestation of waiters who are dumpy Canadians with
Jewfros,” Time said.
Knocked Up opens today in Los Angeles.
It’s hard to thrive, or even function, if you don’t feel safe. Emotionally, if there is no love in your life, an inner emptiness gnaws...
Do you know what we need in an age of attention-destroying, context-lacking, rage-inducing consumption of digital story after digital story? A user’s manual for the...
I live in as diverse a Jewish community as there may be in America, in Brooklyn, N.Y., but often look around synagogue sanctuaries and other...
When California Democrats gather for their state party convention in San Francisco on May 31, they will hear from congressional and legislative leaders, from Gov....
“The candy man can ’Cause he mixes it with love And makes the world taste good.” — Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley In late April, I...
I arrived in Jerusalem on Yom HaZikaron, the day of remembrance for fallen soldiers. Despite the day’s somberness, little Israeli flags waved cheerfully from the...
Despite showers and gray skies, close to 15,000 people showed up at Cheviot Hills Park and Recreation Center in Rancho Park on May 19 to...
So many people fail to appreciate the profound and positive impact that nature’s beauty can have on the lives of those who take the time...
In 1972, 16-year-old Janet Dallal’s father was arrested in Baghdad for the crime of being a Jew. He barely survived and was released in the...
Hopefully, by the time you read this, the construction of the next Israeli government will have become clearer. But it’s quite possible that the process...
Four Israelis were buried earlier this month in the wake of nearly 1,000 rockets Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired into Israeli population centers, striking schools,...
SUBTRACT youth’s silver smile KNOCK OFF teenage slouch ZERO guitar fantasies DEDUCT hipster cool TAKE AWAY belief that good things come in time if you...
One verse, five voices. Edited by Salvador Litvak, Accidental Talmudist And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom throughout the Land for all its...
It’s been well documented that guilt is a word often associated with food in American culture. In his book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s...
During a May 19 lecture at UCLA, four journalism experts examined the importance of media in a world where the term “fake news” is now...
Lag BaOmer is approaching, and many Israelis commemorate this holiday by having a big bonfire in their backyard. Unfortunately, the benign intentions of those fires...
What does it mean to be a parent, a good friend, or to stand up for what’s right? For more than four decades, award-winning musical...
Hershey Felder, Canada’s gift to the world’s stage as actor, musician and playwright, returns to Los Angeles this month with his one-man show, “A Paris...
The Los Angeles Youth Orchestra (LAYO) has announced the creation of a new musical group, the Contemporary Adventure Ensemble (CAE), which brings some of L.A.’s...
Marcia Falk is best known as a modern maker of richly innovative Jewish prayers as collected in “The Book of Blessings,” which was described by...
Herman Wouk, the best-selling Orthodox Jewish author whose literary career spanned nearly seven decades and who helped usher Judaism into the American mainstream, died May...
Alvin Sargent, whose deft hand at adapting books and plays into smart, subtly characterized scripts earned him two Oscars for best screenplay, died May 9...
Graduation season is upon us, and everyone from kindergartners to Ph.D.s are putting on their caps and gowns. One graduation tradition that has become very...
Serial entrepreneur Jonathan Medved, 63, is the founder and CEO of OurCrowd, the world’s largest equity crowdfunding platform. Since its launch in February 2013, OurCrowd...
During a recent visit to Israel along with his counterparts from around the United States, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti met with Israeli President Reuven...
FRI MAY 24 Housing the Homeless Tommy Newman, director of public affairs at United Way, joins Shabbat dinner at Stephen Wise Temple and leads a...
Joe Biden’s Flawed Approach Dan Schnur describes in his column (“The Joe Biden Gamble,” May 10) using arguments against President Donald Trump the policymaker but...