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"It Was A Fucking Nightmare": Seth Rogen Speaks Candidly About The Failure Of 'The Green Hornet'

by Kevin Jagernauth
June 10, 2013 12:52 PM
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Time heals all wounds. Or at least it adds some perspective and allows talent to be divorced from the obligations of promotion, to be honest about what they've made. And so, reflections on the franchise that wasn't, "The Green Hornet," continue to roll. You might recall the producer Neal Moritz said in 2012 that the decision and cost of choosing to shoot the movie in Los Angeles coupled with the 3D conversion, killed any shot at a sequel. Meanwhile, Michel Gondry flat out admitted that "fans didn't like my vision of the superhero." But now, it's Seth Rogen's turn to weigh in on his first major blockbuster movie, and he's forthright and candid about what went wrong.

Chatting with Marc Maron on the WTF podcast he admits that by taking it on, he and his collaborator Evan Goldberg "fell into the trap...when you start doing well, you inherent gravitate towards the notion, of doing the biggest thing that you can, basically." Going into the process wide-eyed and keen perhaps made them blind to just how many voices need to be placated with budgets start going north of $100 million dollars.

"We got excited about the prospect of having that opportunity [to make a big, mainstream film] that we did it, being completely naive as to exactly how much of what makes us good, would be basically stifled and evaporated, merely by signing on to do a movie of that budget and that rating," Rogen said. And really it was a combination of hubris, actors and filmmakers both working far outside their comfort zone, and the general machinations of studio movies where it always seems the focus is on the wrong places. Here's what Rogen had to say about what he calls "a dark time":

"While we were making it, it was a fucking nightmare. And Gondry, the director, is wonderful at smaller scale stuff but I think he did not mesh well with [a blockbuster film]. It was his first movie with more than a $20 million dollar budget and this was $120 million dollar budget. And we had never made an action movie, he had never made an action movie. And if there is one thing I look back on like, 'What was the problem there?' It was just the budget. We can't make a really edgy fun movie for our types of people for that amount of money. There's just too much skepticism that it draws. 'Mo money, 'mo problems. You can't take risks, [the studio] wouldn't let us take risks anyway. And that makes it very hard to make a movie that's exciting."

"It's weird what risks they're willing to take. The script is under great scrutiny, the lines, the characters, the dialogue, he should have a father, it should be this, it should be that. We just wanted to get it made and not waste all this time. And then things like the action sequences, which is really where all the money's getting spent, go under no scrutiny whatsoever. No one looks at it. No one looks at the pre-vis. No one looks at the storyboards. What we spent like literally $50 million dollars on, no one checks out. And that's whats crazy. The way the money was spent and the way the money is spent on a lot of these movies is crazy." 

"When you look back on it, the things we spent the most money on were under the least amount of scrutiny of all the things in the movie. But overall, when you look back at the movies we've enjoyed making -- 'Superbad,' 'Pineapple Express,' 'Knocked Up,' this one 'This Is The End,' '50/50' was a lot of fun -- and it's the ones where they leave us alone and we can do whatever we want, we're in charge or our friends are in charge, and we are free to do whatever we want [that turn out the best]. There were so many times on 'Green Hornet' where we were like, 'It'd be funny if this happens,' and they'd be like, 'Yeah, well we can't do that cause it's R-rated.' I think we hoped we could be the guys who made the edgy PG-13 movie but we just couldn't really do it."

And while Rogen certainly voices his disappointment in the reception to the movie ("It was hard to figure out what to fix because it was our highest testing movie ever. It tested 95 out of 100."), he adds that Sony were with them every step of the way, and they were never left holding the bag or full responsibility for the picture. But what lesson did they learn from all this?

"It took 3 years of our lives and we always say, 'We could've made five movies in that time'," Goldberg said. "We shouldn't make expensive movies where we can't make a million dick jokes," Rogen added during an appearance on another podcast Doug Loves Movies. And would they ever make a sequel?

"No, that'd be a nightmare," Rogen told Doug with Goldberg echoing his sentiments bluntly: "I would rather just not work for a year."

And it seems they took those lessons to heart as their upcoming "This Is The End" doesn't hold back on the spectacle, contains tons of dick jokes, was shot for a mere $31 million dollars last year, and hits theaters on Wednesday.

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More: The Green Hornet, Seth Rogen, Michel Gondry

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  • santos | June 14, 2014 4:30 AMReply

    I dont like Seth Rogen BUT THAT WAS WHY HE WAS PERFECT... he plays kind of an asshole stupid billionaire kid with a party-animal and fighting attitude... I think the movie was wonderful, the guy who played Kato was awesome and the political message was right on point. They clearly were thinking franchise the whole way... Compared to most of the movies out that year it was above the rest... I mean anything "Transformers"? give me a break!!!... Something could have been fixed at the beginning of the movie and people would not have hated it so much... They tried to introduce the fact that Seth Rogen was a rich kid dumb ass likable kind of loser with daddy issues... That is a kind of complex character to set up particularly if he is later going to become a kind of hero... They succeeded in setting up the premise... but it was badly done...the fast forward garage sex scene was very lame. Still I would put the movie above Iron Man 2, for instance. The car and other effects were more realistic than stuff you see in Batman...

  • Kwon | April 22, 2014 9:22 PMReply

    This movie was an insult to Bruce Lee and Van Williams.

  • lucio | February 10, 2014 9:20 PMReply

    This movie was great, just all the Rogen&Goldberg movies. The Franco part was amazing.

  • Grigs | July 16, 2013 1:05 PMReply

    "a mere $31 million dollars"

  • Larry Dickman | June 16, 2013 4:07 PMReply

    As others have said, Rogen was miscast, the script & direction were awful, and they knew in advance that the folks likely to see it multiple times specifically did not want to see Green Hornet as a comedy.

  • love jay chou 4ever | June 13, 2013 12:54 AMReply

    okay,it's not important at all.
    i watched green hornet because of jay chou...
    and jay direct and act a new movie in 2013.
    well, green hornet is not bad

  • Whodatninja | June 12, 2013 10:31 PMReply

    Interesting, because watching the movie is a nightmare too. Blame whatever you like but the fact is the movie was weak at a base level and Rogen was horrifically cast.

  • Why? | June 11, 2013 9:57 AMReply

    Told you so Seth! Told you when you where first associated with it. The Green Hornet is not a comedy and will never work as one. Quite trying to remold characters into things they are not. You approached this film from the very beginning completely wrong and the numbers show that. You have no one to blame but yourself. Step up and be a man and accept the responsibility for your failure. It NEEDS a reboot a la Dark Knight with a talented leading man like Jim Caviezal (Person of Interest)

  • M. Todd | June 11, 2013 5:35 PM

    Starsky and Hutch worked as a comedy. Anything can work if done well. Of course, it's exactly that kind of thinking that gets you in trouble.

  • Hari | June 11, 2013 4:47 AMReply

    The Green Hornet may have not been a perfect shoot for Rogen and Co, but I have to say I enjoyed the movie so much. Went in with zero expectations because of meh reviews and the January release date and laughed and laughed and laughed. The fight scenes were wondefully hilarious and Christoph Waltz is just amazing (as always). One of the few movies I own on blu-ray too. I genuinely love the movie, so IMO it wasn't a failure. It connected with me and a lot of people I know. It is an action-comedy though, and not a superhero film, and you have to look at it like that.

  • Smeepalapeep | June 11, 2013 12:35 AMReply

    "A mere 31 million dollars." Go fuck yourself.

  • Walt | June 10, 2013 7:13 PMReply

    "A mere $31 million dollars"? Tell that to filmmakers who have trouble even getting $1 million or even half a mil together.

  • french girl | June 10, 2013 6:03 PMReply

    Rogen was the lead actor, one of the executive producer and the writer and he had no power???!

    in some french interviews,Gondry implies that he had some problems with the studio and Rogen ,that Rogen who dropped him in front of the studio and that he probably was not the good director for the movie

  • THOR | June 10, 2013 5:37 PMReply

    I liked the movie.

    I thought the action scenes (in "slow-mo") were particularly well-directed.

  • zane | June 10, 2013 3:23 PMReply

    dull ,,,rogen

  • Bob | June 10, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    The movie sucked! The Green Hornet is not a comedy. Needs a complete reboot

  • yer | June 10, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    The film is fucking awful and wouldn't have been any better with a smaller budget. The main problem was Rogen himself both in acting and in writing.

  • Joanna | June 10, 2013 2:02 PMReply

    How come is it a failure?I think it's pretty enjoyable,and Seth Rogen and Jay Chou delivered the jokes and stunts well.I mean,what did people expect from "The Green Hornet"?I laughed,I wow'd at Kongfu scenes,that's enough.

  • PRESIDENT MAO | June 10, 2013 1:58 PMReply

    Seth Rogen ruined the film acting stoned and improvising his lines of dialogue. And he now complains?

  • ash | June 10, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    I have to say I actually enjoy watching the green hornet... It's entertaining and fun to watch.

  • Andrew | June 10, 2013 1:28 PMReply

    I stand by my belief upon its release that it was, and still is, incredibly underrated. I thought it was really enjoyable and I really liked the chemistry between Rogen and Chou. Not a great film, but an enjoyable time at the movies, and that's really all I expected.

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