'He's My De Niro': Judd Apatow on the Gruff, Underdog Virtues of Seth Rogen


This week has seen its share of macho turf warfare between Seth Rogen and the crew at Entourage, all precipitated by the latter's contention that in real life, a guy like Rogen would never have a shot at his Knocked Up co-star Katherine Heigl. You and I both know by now that Rogen can defend himself, but that didn't stop Judd Apatow from extolling his schlubby muse's virtues Wednesday at New York's sold-out Funny People preview.

First, the filmmaker half-joked tht the Entourage slam (which he only referred to indirectly) and other Rogen critiques had a slightly bitter, anti-Semitic aftertaste. "Isn't that the code?" he asked rhetorically. "'Shiksa goddess shouldn't be near the Jews?' Diane Keaton was pretty cute. How did Woody Allen get her? I have my own shiksa goddess."

But Apatow's praise of Rogen as his own endearing onscreen surrogate resonated deeper.

"I wasn't a great comedian," Apatow told the audience. "I didn't have a lot of charisma. I wasn't that interesting of a person who you'd want to watch for a great period of time. And I wasn't angry, which you have to be to be a stand-up comedian. And Seth, in some ways, is a better version of me as a performer. He has all the qualities I didn't have. He's kind of strange, you know? He's got a weird voice. He's gruff. He's kind of a character; he has this vicious sense of humor, but he's also very sweet. And you root for him, because as tough as he is, you kind of know his life is probably tricky. He's a really great underdog guy with a big heart who will always try to do the right thing.

"He's my De Niro, basically," he added, drawing a laugh but speaking again with self-effacing sincerity. "Scorsese's a little man, and he's got tough De Niro to play Scorsese onscreen. I have Seth Rogen."

PREVIOUSLY: "'Some People Hate My F***ing Guts': Judd Apatow Talks Sexism and More in NYC


  • Allan says:

    Sure, maybe Entourage should not have been so forceful about the ugly jokes, but the fact is that in all his movies, Seth Rogan is the 3rd or 4th funniest actor on screen. Someone name a single movie he's been in where you could say he was the funniest.

  • JudgeFudge says:

    If Rogen is a DeNiro, in any sense, then Apatow is his Barry Levinson.

  • Bobby says:

    The "De Niro" was a metaphor,Seth has proven himself sans Judd Apatow's films to build a fan-base on his own.I think Seth is a talented person,the best is yet to come!

  • Lowbrow says:

    This interplay that Apatow points out here also works very well with the constant pairing of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Johnny can easily be seen as the dark, talented, & beautiful hero that ogreish Burton could never be. It's cool though Tim, you're still tappin' Helena off camera.
    (Yeah, I called him 'ogreish').

  • Christopher C says:

    almost all great directors has atleast one collaborator that can best express what he's trying to show onscreen, but can't do it himself
    lucky for Woody Allen, he has Woody Allen.

  • Dee says:

    For future reference:
    Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Natalie Portman, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Julian Morris, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Marla Sokoloff, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Adam Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gabriel Macht, Halston Sage.

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Connelly, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman.

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Andrew Garfield, Ezra Miller, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

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