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Seth Rogen says the invisible work of two different people helped him pull off his performance in HBO Max’s An American Pickle.
Appearing virtually on Late Night With Seth Meyers, the actor revealed that during one table read, Ike Barinholtz played opposite him. They each read as one of the comedy-drama’s two leading characters, Herschel Greenbaum and his great-grandson, Ben Greenbaum. For Rogen, who says he was already questioning his ability to play the dual part, Barinholtz’s delivery had him re-thinking whether they even needed him in both roles.
“It’s not something I went into lightly, and I actually tried to get out of it several times,” Rogen told Meyers. “We actually did a table read where Ike Barinholtz read the Herschel role at one point, and he was hilarious. And I remember thinking like, ‘Oh, we got like — we don’t need me.'”
While the experience created some doubts for Rogen, it all worked out and he was eventually able to wrap his head around the experience and convinced he could play both roles in a film he described as “incredibly complicated.” To perform both parts, he had to do “the whole first half as Herschel, and then we went back into the other half as Ben.”
But Barinholtz wasn’t the only person whose behind-the-scenes presence impacted Rogen’s work on An American Pickle, which is now streaming. The movie’s lead actor and producer credited his stand-in, Ian Poake, saying he made Rogen’s performance “much better.”
“It was in some ways very selfless,” Rogen said. “He was compensated, but in some ways, a very selfless thing for him to do was essentially act in an entire movie with the understanding he would be removed from it later.”
Like him, Poake played both roles and was opposite Rogen “in almost every scene.” He’d frequently just “sit there and look at me,” the star explained and was totally “malleable” and adept when it came to blocking.
“I remember telling him, specifically, like ‘The better job you do, the less it will seem like you exist,” Rogen told Meyers. “Thriving for a complete evaporation on your part — that’s the bull’s-eye you’re really trying to hit,’ and he really did an amazing job.”
Watch the full segment below.
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