Indie Spirit Awards Host Seth Rogen on Why He Believes George Clooney Stole His Joke (Q&A)

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Says Rogen: "I hope to be funny, to keep it moving."

The first-time host talks to THR about emceeing the freewheeling awards ceremony with improv and, brace yourselves, penis jokes.

This story first appeared in the March 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

He may not be 40 years old, but Seth Rogen is definitely a virgin.

On Feb. 25, the 29-year-old actor-writer-producer will make his first appearance at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Not only is he nominated for producing the cancer comedy 50/50, which is up for best feature, but Rogen also will be hosting the show, always a looser, more spontaneous affair than the next day's Oscars.

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Rogen spoke to THR about how he plans to bring an improv approach, why he thinks George Clooney ripped off one of his jokes and how he's planning an acceptance speech whether or not he wins.

The Spirit Awards

  • WHEN: Noon on Feb. 25
  • WHERE: 2030 Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica
  • PRESENTERS: Ed Helms, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Chastain, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


The Hollywood Reporter: Have you hosted an awards show before?

Seth Rogen: (Laughs.) No, I have not. Not the AVNs, not the High Times. I've presented at a couple of awards shows, but I've never hosted one.

THR: How much prep do you plan to do?

Rogen: I'm not going to wing it. I plan on writing jokes that relate to the movies. (Laughs.) I've seen other people do that on awards shows; that seems to work. I'm not re-inventing the wheel.

THR: Do you feel like you need to have seen any or all of the movies nominated?

Rogen: I've seen a lot of them, and definitely it's easier to write jokes about a movie once you've at least made an attempt to watch it. But some movies, like Shame, you don't need to have seen to make a lot of dick jokes about Michael Fassbender.

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THR: Clooney already tried to win that competition at the Globes.

Rogen: That's true. He did a pretty good one. I had actually done one at the National Board of Review a couple weeks earlier that was maybe even better. He was there. So my theory is, he saw me and tried to improve on what I had done.

THR: You mentioned your erection while presenting at the Globes. How much will attendees hear about your erection during the Spirits show?

Rogen: For once, I hope to turn the attention on other people's dicks. (Laughs.) As the host, it's not about me, it's about the show!

THR: Your own film is up for three awards. Is it beneath you to try to influence the outcome as host?

Rogen: No! And I'll be totally honest, I agreed to host in the hope that it would help us win those awards. (Laughs.) The good news is, I get to say my acceptance speech one way or another. I could just start the night by giving my acceptance speech. It doesn't matter if I win or not, I get to get it in there.

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THR: Will you try to improv a lot, or are you planning to have a detailed script?

Rogen: I always enjoy it when people are reacting to things that are happening throughout the night. At these things, I've found I've gotten the biggest laughs by just saying something about something that's actually happening, rather than something I planned weeks in advance. I hope to take that approach to it. I know that not many people have the IFC channel [which broadcasts the show], so even if it goes terribly, not that many people will see it.

THR: In your experience, who is the gold standard for hosting an awards show?

Rogen: I always liked it when Chris Rock would host the MTV VMAs in the late '90s. That was the last time, though, that I saw a real awards show in any way, shape or form.

THR: Then how are you going to approach keeping this one interesting?

Rogen: I hope to be funny, I hope to keep it moving. I don't want to overstay my welcome. I hope it's just funny. More than anything, that's what I hope.


NEW BLOOD: Sean McManus and Josh Welsh take the helm of Film Independent.

In January, Sean McManus and Josh Welsh were handed the reins of Film Independent, which runs the Los Angeles Film Festival, the LACMA Film Series and the Spirit Awards, honoring the best in the year's independent film. The new co-presidents, promoted from within the organization, take over from long-standing executive director Dawn Hudson, who left in June to head the Motion Picture Academy.

"Sean and I are deeply committed to providing vital support to independent filmmakers, to help them make their movies and to help them reach their audiences," says Welsh, who has designed and implemented FI's artist-development efforts since 1997. "We're constantly refining our programs to do that more effectively."

The pair plans to build on FI's signature year-round programs, which include multiple filmmaker labs, the Project Involve diversity initiative and sponsor-funded grants. "We have a track record of working together to help build Film Independent's programmatic impact," says McManus, who joined FI in 1998. "We have a shared vision."

Much of that vision is now focused on helping filmmakers get their work in front of bigger audiences. "Ten years ago, the question was, 'How do I get my film made?' " says Welsh. "Today, the question is, 'How do I get my film distributed?' That is something that we want to address. That's a nut that nobody has really cracked at this point." -- J.A.F.