Oscar-winning director Steven SpielbergThe next feature to hit theaters could very well be the acclaimed filmmaker’s most personal endeavor yet. The Fabelmans is an intimate insight into Spielberg’s own upbringing and a mirror he holds to his most formative years spent honing what would later become an acclaimed career in film. Co-written by Spielberg and Tony Kushner, and set in a post-WWII era, the film follows young Sammy Fabelman as he navigates youth and the pains of growing up through a camera lens. Featuring michelle williams and Paul Dano as Spielberg’s fictional mother and father, The Fabelmans also includes Seth Rogen like Bennie Loewy, who plays an uncle in Sammy’s life.
In his interview with CNET’s editor-in-chief Steve Weintraub, Rogen discusses Zoom’s “crazy” appeal when Spielberg offered him a role in the film, the camaraderie of working alongside industry greats, and the “miraculous” way the director commissions a set. He also talks about the limits The boys Season 4 isn’t afraid to crossover, and writing scripts for a new season of The Boys Presents: Devilish. You can read the full interview below or watch the video above. To know more The Fabelmanscheck out CNET’s review by Ross Bonaime.
GameSpot: If someone hasn’t seen what you’ve done before, what’s the first thing you want them to watch and why?
SETH ROGEN: That’s a good question. look super bad. Check super bad. People seem to like it. He seems to be holding up well. One of the first things I ever wrote about my childhood specifically. You’ll get a good idea of what I think is funny and who I am as a person.
I will also recommend this movie. It’s pretty good.
ROGEN: Yeah, it was dragging.
You’ve been in this business for a little while, how does it feel to get a phone call or text or email however you got it from Steven Spielberg basically saying : “I want to meet you for something?”
ROGEN: It was crazy. A Zoom has been organized. I heard he wanted to zoom with me. It was in the middle of a pandemic. Honestly, I had no idea what it was about. I thought maybe it was about writing something, maybe potentially, rewriting something. I get to fix comedies that don’t work as well as they could, things like that.
He said he wrote a movie with Tony Kushner, and there was a role in it that they kept talking about me while they were working on it, and he wanted I read the script, then we should talk. I thought, “I’m going to want to do this. I don’t know if I need to read the script. He was like, “Just read it.” I read it, and lo and behold, I wanted to do it. I was like, “Yeah, I’m into it.” Then he was like, ‘Great, I’ll prep the rest of the movie, I’ll let you know what happens.’ Then, over the next few months, I spoke to him periodically while he filled out the rest of the cast and filled out the shooting plan. It was just this beautiful thing that I knew was going to happen months in the future. Yeah, I was so excited, honestly.
At any point, did you think he was filming an episode of Punk?
ROGEN: Honestly, there were times when I was like, “Is this real?” Yes, I sometimes doubted its validity.
Last night I talked to you a bit, and you mentioned that you went on set before filming started.
ROGEN: Yeah. A lot.
I’m curious, even if you’re in the movie, you’re one of the stars, do you actually have to ask someone for permission to go on set when you’re not filming?
ROGEN: Permission? I mean, sort of, yeah. You know what, all sets are different, and sometimes they don’t like people on set who don’t specifically work. I was pretty sure it would be fine. I told him in advance that I wanted it, I couldn’t imagine they would say no. You gotta find where they’re shooting and stuff like that. They tell you where to park and all that so they need to know you’re coming I guess to some extent. Yes, everyone seemed happy to have me.
You’ve done your own stuff and starred in tons of projects. How is a Spielberg set different in ways you might not expect? Because he’s a genius.
And I’m just curious how he runs a set versus how you run a set.
ROGEN: There were a few interesting things. I’d say the closest thing I’d done, writing-wise, and how it was expected to be acted to some degree, was this Aaron Sorkin movie, Danny Boyle. This film for which we rehearsed for six weeks. This movie was written by Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg. The scenarios seemed very similar, very precisely laid out, when to overlap, when to stop, but there was no repetition at all, and Steven didn’t want to repeat at all. It was really different, and something really exciting. In fact, I really liked it. It was cool.
It’s funny, the closest I’ve seen is at sheet music sessions where all the musicians show up, and they’ve never played the song together, but they all know their roles and the composer is like “One, two, three, go.” Everyone just, “boom,” and it just happens. There were times when it was like that, when it was like, “I know my part and if everybody knows their part, and we go, then it could really come together in this amazing way.” It did it all the time. It was interesting.
To a certain extent, it’s like watching, I guess, Michael Jordan play basketball with a basketball player. You can learn some things, but the overwhelming lesson you take away is that it doesn’t do it the way most people do, and so there’s a limit to what you could learn from it. The speed and skill with which he could block and decide how to shoot the scenes. It would take most people months of planning to do what he did in real time. I saw him doing it where he said, “You stand here, you stand here, you walk here for this line, then we walk here, and then you come out here, and that’s it. We start a 20 millimeter lens, we follow here, we cut on this line. Then take it, 30 millimeter lens, go behind you, walk this way, stop, cut on this line. Then for the last of your lines, we would take you out, this camera goes out that door, another camera picks you up, you go out the door.”
It was just like, “What?” It was miraculous. It was something that, knowing how hard it is to do that, usually it would be at least several hours of conversations that people have looking at plans for the set, how to block it, how to make sure that people are lit, backlit, giving the right opportunities for all that. He was just doing it and then it was amazing. That’s what I took away, too, which was, “Oh, he has an inhuman ability to process how to make a scene work from a cinematic perspective.” Yeah, it was weird to watch sometimes.
The other thing is that everyone he works with is the Michael Jordan of his position.
ROGEN: Yeah. Oh yeah. I worked with a lot of these people, which was also good because it was demystifying. I made a film with Janusz Kaminski, he shot funny people, so I also knew a lot about the camera department. I know Rick Carter, whom I had come to know by chance over the past few years because he was helping us on another project.
Yeah, they’re all so good and awesome and friendly and funny. It’s like you’re invited to play on their team because they all know each other so well. Yeah, it’s a real camaraderie, and sometimes it’s like those scenes in the movie where it’s a group of kids making a movie. That’s how his sets sometimes felt.
What does Spielberg look like giving you notes on set, and at some point did you want to pull out your phone and film him giving you notes? Because I mean, Steven Spielberg directs you.
ROGEN: Funny thing is, I didn’t get a lot of direction. He’s not one of those directors who goes out of his way to achieve things he’s happy with. Yeah, there were whole days where we talked a lot, but none of that was about what I was doing performance-wise. It was nice, honestly, in a weird way. It was the logistics department. “Could you say the line here instead of here?” Could you stop there and turn? Things like that. “Could you hold the gaze because we pushed for a second more and then say the line?” It was things like that. I respond very well to this type of instruction where it is a question of knowing how to make the plan work. It’s not about the emotionality of the scene or the subtext of the scene. It’s literally that you have to stand in front of that light when you say that last line, just make sure that by the time you get there, you’re standing there. It’s just as difficult as anything, but it’s in the right direction. Yeah.
I’m almost out of time with you, but I have to mention that one of my favorite shows on TV is The boys.
ROGEN: Oh, thank you.
I know Eric [Kripke] told me that they are halfway through filming season 4 right now, and Diabolical, I wonder if it will be resumed. I guess it’s in two parts. East there will be more The Boys Presents: Devilishand what can you tease about season 4?
ROGEN: Man, I don’t know if I can necessarily tease anything about season 4, other than just when I think I can’t be more shocked at what they’re doing there, they find a way to shock me even more. We have college Generation V show, of which I’m starting to see episodes, and it’s absolutely crazy. Yeah, just the combination of superheroes in a college setting in an incredibly subversive R-rated world is, yeah… There are parts of this show where me and Evan [Goldberg] look at the cuts of the footage that was just like, “Dear God, what are they doing over there?”
I hope Diabolical come back. They actually bought scripts for the next season, so we wrote them. We’re not 100% sure they’ll produce them, but if all goes as planned, they’ll produce the scripts we’re writing right now.
Well, that’s really great, because I think Amazon did really well with that and also Invincible.
ROGEN: Yeah, which I worked on too. I’ve been working on the next seasons and it’s amazing. We are also producers on that. They were very supportive of letting us do this crazy thing. Were doing sausage party with them too. Yeah, they really let us spend their money irresponsibly.
The Fabelmans opens now in select theaters and everywhere on November 23.
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Seth Rogen On Fabelmans And Steven Spielberg’s Inhuman Ability To Build Scenes – GameSpot