Seth Rogen on His Bizarre Meeting With Nicolas Cage, Peeing in Tom Cruise’s Driveway, and Why He and His Wife Never Want Children
Comedian, writer, and marijuana entrepreneur returns to the show ahead of his new tell-all “Yearbook”May 10, 2021
Seth Rogen returned to the Stern Show Monday morning and regaled listeners with a fresh batch of star-studded, weed-infused tales. The comedian, writer, producer, cannabis entrepreneur, and gifted storyteller sat down with Howard ahead of the release of “Yearbook,” his juicy new memoir brimming with hilarious childhood anecdotes and wild celebrity run-ins. Though the book has received rave reviews, including from Howard himself, Seth said writing it was no easy task.
“It took a really long time,” Rogen said, explaining he pushed his other projects aside after quarantine hit and dedicated three full months to finishing the book. Even so, he never stressed out about missing any publishing deadline. “[They] paid me to write a good book, not a fast book. No one has ever read anything and been like, ‘Wow, I bet that was handed in on time,’” he told Howard. “I just wanted it to be good.”
Seth was eager to expound several of “Yearbook’s” most remarkable stories about industry A-listers and Hollywood insiders. In one anecdote about former Sony chairman Michael Lynton, who oversaw the studio when Rogen’s hot-button political comedy “The Interview” came out in 2014, Seth said the executive asked him to lie to the press about a creative change the studio thrust upon the film. “It’s a fucked-up thing to ask someone,” he told Howard.
In another, involving comedian Eddie Griffin, Rogen recounted the “Undercover Brother” star screaming an anti-Semitic tirade at him in an elevator. “He said, ‘They won’t make any of our movies, but they make all your movies because you’re fucking Jewish,’ basically,” Seth recalled.
Howard applauded Seth for his courage and honesty when it came to naming names in his book. “Were you nervous?” he wondered.
“I really thought … ‘Will this just make some people look dumb?’ Maybe. I look dumb all the time,” Seth said. “I think everyone should look dumb every now and then.”
“I don’t care if people don’t like me, that’s the truth. I assume most people don’t like me,” he continued. “It’s fine with me, and I see these people very rarely.”
Facing Off With a National Treasure
A little over a decade ago, when Rogen and his longtime creative partner Evan Goldberg were in pre-production on their “The Green Hornet” adaptation, the two had several eventful meetings with actor Nicolas Cage about him possibly playing the film’s villain. Howard read about them in Seth’s book and was desperate to hear more details.
“I’m a huge Nicolas Cage fan … [but] you don’t know what Nicolas Cage you’re going to get,” Seth said, setting the stage. “There’s a wide array of Nicolas Cages out there and the dude takes—to his credit—big swings.”
The first idea Cage brought to the table involved having his villain be bald with hair tattooed on his head. “We got a call a few days later and he said, ‘I actually don’t want to do the head tattoo thing for the movie because I’m thinking I might want to do it in real life.’ I remember laughing hysterically when he said it on the phone and then stopping and realizing it wasn’t a joke,” Seth said.
That was only the beginning. “Then we got a phone call where he wanted to play … like a white Jamaican guy, basically, which set off a lot of alarms,” he continued.
They eventually met with Cage to talk the ideas over with him. “Within 60 seconds we’re all like seated in the living room as he stands in front of us, reciting like a monologue in a Jamaican accent,” Seth recalled with a laugh. “A monologue, I should add, that is not in the script.”
“It ends, it’s as though he’s just landed a backflip and he’s waiting for applause,” Seth continued. “Everyone looks to me to express the group reaction to this … I’m so uncomfortable. I was like, ‘It was okay. Cool, thanks. We should talk about it.’”
Cage never did join “The Green Hornet” cast, but he and Rogen met again sometime later to discuss collaborating on another project. However, all Nic apparently wanted to talk about was whether James Franco’s character in the 2012 film “Spring Breakers” was based on the Caribbean character he’d once proposed to Seth.
“I was like, ‘No. Absolutely not. I think it was actually based on a Florida rapper.’ And he very clearly didn’t believe me,” Seth recalled. “Within a few minutes, he was like, ‘I forgot I have something else to do,’ and he got up and left again.”
Regardless, Seth still appreciates Cage as an actor and wouldn’t hesitate to try another collaboration. “I would work with Nicolas Cage again, in a second,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he would not work with me in the wake of this book, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he would. He’s a hard guy to nail.”
Risky Business in Tom Cruise’s Driveway
Seth also opened up about the time he and “Knocked Up” director Judd Apatow took a meeting at Tom Cruise’s house back when the Hollywood legend was eyeing a few comedy projects. Seth told Howard he needed to use the bathroom when driving up to Tom’s house, but he didn’t want to knock on the door and ask to use the restroom right away. So, he found another solution.
“I stopped halfway up the driveway and I peed in a Snapple bottle in my car, and I sealed the bottle and left it there, and went on to have a very absurd meeting with Tom Cruise,” Seth recalled, adding that upon leaving he noticed security cameras in the woods near where he’d done the deed.
Things only got weirder once the sit-down with Cruise began. “A few hours into the meeting, the Scientology stuff comes up,” he recalled. “He said, ‘I think the pharmaceutical industry is making me look bad.’ He said, ‘You should see what they do to my friend Louis Farrakhan.’”
According to Seth, Tom assured his guests that Scientology was more than it seemed. “He said, ‘If you let me just tell you what it’s really about … you would say, “No fucking way. No. Fucking. Way,”’” Seth remembered.
He wasn’t sure what that meant, though suddenly he feared being converted. “I’m generally a weak-willed, weak-minded person … If they got him, what chance do I got?” Rogen said. “Thank god Judd was like, ‘Ah, I think we’re good. Let’s just talk about movies.’”
This Is the End?
Rogen’s bizarre encounters with Hollywood big shots didn’t end there. About a decade ago, he had met iconic moviemakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. “For a film fan, it’s truly one of the most miraculous things you could experience,” he said, recalling Lucas wore an all-denim outfit to the get-together.
Their meeting went fine until Spielberg left to take a call, leaving him, his partner Evan Goldberg, and Lucas alone in a room. They asked Lucas how he was doing, to which the “Star Wars” creator purportedly replied, “Not great. 2012 is coming and the world is going to end.”
“He said he was joking, but nothing … about the conversation implied that there was any humor to it in any way, shape, or form,” Seth recounted, adding, “He implied he had a spaceship … some sort of contingency plan to leave the planet.”
“It’s a weird thing when someone tells you that, but then you’re looking at him thinking, ‘If anyone, anywhere has a spaceship it’s this billionaire obsessed with space,’” Seth continued. “It seemed believable, honestly.”
“Was he offering you a seat?” Stern Show co-host Robin Quivers wondered.
“No!” Seth exclaimed. “Evan, my partner, said, ‘Can we get a seat on it?’ and he said, ‘No,’ which is what made me think it was not a joke.”
Not every “Yearbook” story is celebrity centric. Seth’s book also looks back at his childhood and some of his past relationships. In one story set when he and his wife Lauren Miller were still just dating, all hell broke loose after Rogen ignored a warning while visiting Mexico for a bachelor party.
“When you go to Mexico everyone’s like, ‘don’t drink the water’ and ‘don’t eat freshly rinsed vegetables,’” Seth said. “For whatever reason I had a lot of salad … I was like, ‘Fuck you, I can eat all the salad I want!’”
He paid the price after returning home. Lauren picked him up from the airport, they spent the night at his house, and the next morning, as he was preparing to walk her out to her car, Montezuma exacted his revenge.
“I shat my pants just as terribly as a human possibly could,” Seth told Howard.
Just after defecating himself, Lauren came into the bathroom and asked him to walk her to her car. “We were early enough in the relationship that I could not be like, ‘No, I just shat my pants,’” he told Howard. “I was concerned that that might be bad.”
So, grinning and bearing it as best he could, Rogen walked her outside, down the stairs, and to her car parked about a block away without her detecting a thing. “By some miracle, I got her to the car … I kissed her, she drove away, and she never found out about it,” he told Howard. “I remember standing there on the street, like, covered in shit, just watching her drive away, being like, ‘Maybe one day you’ll marry that woman.’”
Married Without Children
Lauren and Seth eventually did get married in 2011 and by all accounts the two couldn’t be happier. Howard wondered what the future held for them and Seth revealed they don’t intend to ever have children.
“I wouldn’t be able to do all this work that I like,” Seth said, explaining he’s happy focusing his attention on writing, making pottery, running his weed business, and just generally enjoying life.
“And Lauren’s down with this, too?” Howard asked.
“I would say she wants kids less than I do,” Rogen laughed.
“We have so much fun. I don’t know anyone who gets as much happiness out of their kids as we get out of our non-kids,” he continued. “We’re fucking psyched all the time. We’re lying in bed Saturday morning, smoking weed, watching movies naked—if we had kids we could not be doing this.”
Burned by an Angry Whopper
As it turned out, freshly washed Mexican vegetables aren’t the only things capable of wreaking havoc on Seth’s digestive system. He ranked his favorite fast-food restaurants in his book and put Burger King at the bottom. On Monday, he told Howard that was in part because of what happened to him after he tried one of their “nuclear spicy” sandwiches called the Angry Whopper.
“I ate a really powerful weed brownie, I was at the airport, and I was not feeling good. It was very early in the morning, and I went to a Burger King,” he said, telling Howard he ordered the Angry Whopper because he hoped it might “shock my system back into place.”
He ate the sandwich quickly and for a few minutes he actually felt better. He got on the plane and fell asleep right away, though he was sweating like crazy. Suddenly, he was awoken by a flight attendant vigorously shaking him. “She’s screaming, ‘You had a seizure!’” he recalled.
He felt fine, but the flight attendant insisted on finding an onboard doctor to examine him. His vitals seemed okay, so Seth turned to the woman next to him and asked her opinion. “She was like, ‘I don’t think you had a seizure … you’re just sweaty,’” he said.
It was a weight off his mind, but upon landing he discovered the airline had an ambulance in waiting. “There was a wheelchair waiting for me, a stretcher,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Look, I had a weed brownie and an Angry Whopper. I think that’s what’s wrong with me.”
Seth shared a handful of weed-related stories with Howard, from getting high before meeting Spielberg to the time he and his friend brought nunchucks and a commemorative baseball bat to a drug deal in high school. As funny as his drug-fueled stories were, marijuana is also serious business for Rogen these days. He spoke Monday about legalization and de-stigmatization as well as his weed company Houseplant, in which he’s invested countless hours and millions of dollars of his own money.
Howard thought the decision would soon pay dividends. “I’m thinking you’re going to become a billionaire because I think people trust you,” he said. “You seem to be a man of integrity.”
Seth is very actively involved with Houseplant, which offers both its unique strains of weed and various home goods ranging from record players to hand-made ashtrays. “I spent as much time working on it as I do film and other things,” he told Howard. “I love it. I love weed, and I’ve seen I’m able to talk about it and communicate what I love about it in a way that other people who love weed, they receive it well.”
Ultimately, one of his goals with Houseplant is to help make marijuana more reputable. “To me, it was super important that weed looked good and be treated like a good product,” Rogen concluded. “By doing that I thought it would destigmatize weed in general because if something is presented in a thoughtful, considered way it makes it seem less illicit.”