5 essential Seth Rogen roles as the Jewish actor turns 40

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Dan Buffa, Special For The Jewish Light

Turning 40 for an actor can sometimes open up their repertoire to new genres or challenges as a performer. But Seth Rogen is already there, existing in an area of versatility that I am not sure some of his fans and critics know enough about. The Jewish actor is not just a loud-laughing, comedy creator. He has tackled the drama waters of Hollywood’s playground as well. Without further delay, let’s get into the five essential Rogen movies–since he turned 40 on Friday.

Seth Rogen: “Steve Jobs”

Danny Boyle may be known to people for “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later” among other awards-type fares, but he nailed the story of the technology advancer. Taking place in three vital moments in the Apple co-founder’s life and starring the brilliant Michael Fassbender-featuring a superb Kate Winslet role as well-the film wisely avoided the genre’s biopic’s convention tropes. Rogen played Dan Wozniak, the brilliant mind who designed the prototype for the current cultural phenomenon. Jobs couldn’t put music on his daughter’s phone, something alluded to in the film, without Wozniak.

The three acts in the film center around the creation and fracturing of the Jobs and Wozniak relationship, something that began to splinter with the rise of only one’s profile. Rogen’s Wozniak was brilliant yet vulnerable, susceptible to Fassbender’s charming and cunning take on Jobs. One performance fed off the other during their scenes together. It was a brilliant supporting performance from the British Columbia native.

Seth Rogen: “Pineapple Express”

Rogen’s first team-up with James Franco found them playing a couple of stoners who are on the run after witnessing a murder. Co-starring Danny McBride and the easily funny Craig Robinson, this wild comedy opened up the rabid energy of Rogen’s comic persona. Rogen co-wrote the film with his longtime collaborator, Evan Goldberg, and Jewish director Judd Apatow.

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It runs a little on fumes in the climax, but the light ending returned some levity to David Gordon Green’s film. It showed off the screenwriting sharpness as well as his ability to carry a movie, with his character Dale representing the heart of the film.

Seth Rogen: “50/50”

The 2011 film represented one of Rogen’s first forays into more dramatic territory. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) lists “comedy” first on its tag for the film, but the second half of the film is anything but heavy. Director Jonathan Levine never lets the audience feel too much of the weight, and that’s due to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rogen. When Gordon-Levitt’s Adam gets diagnosed with cancer and builds a relentless approach to beating it, it’s his best friend, played by Rogen, who becomes his backbone.

Adam is a radio program writer who is faced with a rare spinal disease, and he starts to discover all the joy in his only 27 years of existence. Rogen and Gordon-Levitt form an easygoing chemistry as friends who chirp yet adore and rely on each other, and it’s never overplayed. Inspired by a true story, “50/50” is a tearjerker that doesn’t have to try too hard since it builds realistic characters portrayed by well-cast actors instead of mere types.

Seth Rogen: “Long Shot”

If you would have told me Rogen was going to play the lead in a romantic comedy opposite Best Actress Oscar owner Charlize Theron, I would have called it a risk back in… 2010. But since he has established that dramatic part of his screen appeal, I knew it would work.

Reuniting with his “50/50” director Levine, Rogen played a political journalist turned speech writer after he ran into his childhood crush (Theron), who is now a Congresswoman making a run for the Presidency. Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah’s script allows the two unlikely leads to go into unconventional ground.

For Theron, she was relatively new to comedy entries, something that one could easily say was more Rogen’s foray. The ease they found kickstarted their chemistry, which included one of the most subtle yet quietly hilarious intimate scenes in recent romantic comedy memory.

Seth Rogen: “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”

An indie darling from the first scene, this is one of Kevin Smith’s best efforts. Being the writer and director here, you can tell it’s one made his way instead of the studio method. There aren’t many movies that can dip their plot and characters into the burgeoning home video porn industry and be a well-oiled comedy machine at the same time. With Rogen and Elizabeth Banks synced up just right in the lead roles and another hilarious turn from frequent collaborator, Robinson, “Zack and Miri” had that untamed independently produced spirit.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a few uncomfortable yet laugh-out-loud scenes, including one with “Jay and Silent Bob” collaborator, Jason Mewes. The phrase, “Dutch Rudder,” will never mean the same to you ever again. It’s the black flag of the comedy genre, and it holds up better than most.

Rogen is much more than the deep-voiced extended cackle. He’s an executive producer and co-creator of a hit Amazon Prime series in “The Boys,” and will co-star in a Steven Spielberg film this winter. His career is flying high as he sails into his 40s.