With films like "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express" on his resume, Seth Rogen easily one of the reigning kings of today's brand of stoner comedies, so it would be understandable if he found the current wave of marijuana legalization around the U.S. troubling from a creative perspective. But Rogen tells CBS News that he's far from worried about the implications of a more pot-friendly culture.
You're one of the vanguards of modern stoner comedy, if that's not too hoity-toity.
[Laughs.] I'll take it.
As society has been progressing, how do you see marijuana's place in comedy changing?
It's interesting, it's a very good question. I don't know. We haven't found any real difference in the way people react to it on screen. We made "This is the End" years after "Pineapple Express," and there's a shot in "This is the End" that's just a bunch of weed on a table, and people literally cheered in the theater when it came on the screen. [Laughs.]
I think right now, if anything, probably more people are trying it than ever have because it's becoming a little more socially accepted than it was. And I'm sure there are people who kind of thought, 'As things ease up, I'll try it,' you know? So I think there's a version where it's actually more popular than it's ever been. It's probably less taboo than it's ever been in some ways, but I think its popularity outweighs it's taboo-ness.
For instance, you have a plot point based around cornering the market on pot by ratting out dealers to the cops. So we know which states this movie doesn't take place in.
Yeah, exactly. There's a point at which you have to embrace the legality of it. It changes it a little bit. The movie's kind of set nowhere, but if it was set somewhere where weed is legal, then that for sure would've caused some issues with our story. [Laughs.]
How much were you looking to play with the inherent sexism you highlight in Greek culture?
It's honestly the thing that made us think it was a good idea in the first place. We were kind of kicking around what the plot of the movie could be on a non-emotional level, and we were debating whether or not a sorority moving in would be a good or interesting idea. And then someone who worked in our office -- Michelle, one of our interns at the time -- was like, "Sororities aren't actually allowed to throw parties, so it actually wouldn't be a nightmare to have a sorority move in next door."
And that's when we were like, "What?" "Yeah, look it up. They're not allowed to throw parties." And we were just like, "What the f**k? This is crazy." It was almost one of those things where if you think about it, it's probably the reason for so many problems that are on college campuses, you know? The fact that they can't have parties in their own private, safe, home-field environment was just very bizarre to us, really.
There are some jokes in this that definitely threaten to cross a line. How do you find that line?
I mean, we test our movies a lot. That's literally the only way. If we are achieving that line, that is the way we are achieving it -- through diligence and through showing the jokes to audiences and really seeing what people respond to and don't respond to. If jokes don't get laughs, then we don't keep them in the movie. That's obviously not, like, scientific. We don't pretend that we, even after all these years, really know what people are definitively going to be OK with and not OK with. I'm honestly surprised with what more people are OK with more than anything.
Like the accidental Holocaust joke?
That's a good example. I wasn't even sure people were going to get that joke, and the first time we screened it I was blown away by the reaction it got and was really surprised. Sometimes it's almost scary how much people laugh at a joke, and it starts to have the opposite reaction where you're like, "Oh no, this is not good. Why are they laughing so hard at the 'Jew in the oven' joke?" I was just in Germany doing press, and the first question they asked me was, "How do you think German audiences would react to the 'Jew in the oven' joke?"
And what did you say?
I was like, "I hadn't thought of it!" [Laughs.]