'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."