Seth Rogen, everyone’s favorite affable stoner, has been making his mark in Hollywood for the past 15 years. But while you’ve been laughing at his breakout role in The 40 Year-Old Virgin, his star-making turn in Knocked Up, and his wildly controversial North Korea comedy The Interview, he’s racked up many more projects that you may not be as familiar with. In celebration of his latest comedy, the Christmas caper The Night Before, here are some of Rogen’s finest, albeit lesser known, projects.
5. Undeclared (2001)
One of Rogen’s earliest memorable roles was when he was cast in Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s cult classic comedy series Freaks and Geeks alongside fellow future powerhouses James Franco and Jason Segel when they were all just teenagers. However, once the freaks were unceremoniously canceled by NBC in 2000, Apatow went back to the drawing board and followed up his critically acclaimed high school series with one about college. Rogen was the lone Freaks cast member to migrate to Undeclared and which he starred in alongside yet another future star, Jay Baruchel. The tender half-hour single camera comedy about the ups and downs of dorm life showed early glimmers of Rogen’s future persona as he played — who else? — a wise-cracking Canadian with a penchant for beer. Much like Freaks, Undeclared was canceled after a single season.
4. Da Ali G Show (2004)
In between Undeclared’s untimely cancelation in 2002 and the smash release of The 40 Year-Old Virgin in 2005, Rogen got lost in the Hollywood system with producers not quite knowing how to utilize his talent. As as a result, he fell back on his knack for writing and joined the staff of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show, the mockumentary series that became a precursor to films like Borat and helped launch Baron Cohen’s career. For the fictional Ali G, Rogen pitched ideas for the final season of the series and later landed an Emmy nomination for his effort.
3. Take This Waltz (2011)
Written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley, Take This Waltz marked a departure for Rogen as he began to explore characters other than that of a schlubby slacker (a transition that initially started with the 2009 dramedy Observe and Report). Take This Waltz’s story centers on a freelance writer (played by Michelle Williams) who has feelings for an artist who lives across the street despite being married to Rogen’s character, Lou. Rogen played the role with an impressive amount of depth, and largely showed that alongside his typical shtick, Rogen can offer so much more. Unfortunately, Take This Waltz was first released on Video On Demand and never had a chance to find a proper audience.
2. Paul (2011)
2011 seemed to be the year that Rogen films flopped one by one — not only did Take This Waltz underperform but so did his alien sci-fi comedy Paul. Sure, Rogen doesn’t actually appear in the flick, but he offers his charm and instantly recognizable voice to the title character, a CGI extra terrestrial. Directed by Greg Mottolla (Superbad) and written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, Paul is nothing but a fun romp, serves largely as a salute to sci-fi culture in general, and probably should have been better received at the box office than it was.
Rogen’s taken a hands-on nature in many of his biggest hits — he’s written many of his own movies with childhood friend Evan Goldberg. The list of Rogen’s biggest hits (Superbad, Pineapple Express, This Is The End, and Neighbors) also double as a rundown of the movie’s he’s written with Goldberg, and that’s no coincidence. Rogen’s talent as a writer both helped jumpstart his career (Judd Apatow caught this early on and helped guide his way through superstardom). His screenwriting expertise means he even penned 2009 episode of The Simpsons — a high honor in and of itself.