Seth Rogen Talks About Asking Steven Spielberg Uncomfortable Questions While Making The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg is known for using moments of his personal life to inspire moments in his films, giving them a rich patina of reality that makes his filmography wonderfully unique. The filmmaker's most recent project, the TIFF award-winning and Oscar frontrunner The Fabelmans, is his first writing credit in over two decades and is his most personal film to date. The movie is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film, and it discusses how Spielberg's love of cinema gave him insight into his dysfunctional family. Seth Rogen, tasked with portraying a fictionalized version of Spielberg's childhood "favorite uncle" in the film, talks with us about asking the director uncomfortable questions to play the part convincingly.

CinemaBlend recently spoke with Seth Rogen about the difficult task of bringing characters to life that are intrinsically tied to the director's past. We asked him whether it ever felt inappropriate to ask Spielberg personal questions about the real-life counterparts of the roles the actors were portraying. The Superbad star said it never felt inappropriate. Rogen said he needed at least an internal understanding of the specific family dynamics to play his role, and that Steven Spielberg was open to it. However, he revealed that the director didn't like discussing the scenes with the actors very much. The actor told CinemaBlend: 

It was a personal journey we were invited to go on, so it didn't seem inappropriate to ask pretty personal questions. You know? And I wanted to really dive into the specifics of the dynamics, especially as we were playing different scenes… kind of, at least having an internal understanding of, like, where are we in this journey of this scene. And he [Spielberg] really seemed to welcome it, but also, at the same time, he made it very clear he doesn't like talking to the actors about the scenes.

It makes sense that Spielberg would feel a bit uncomfortable talking about scenes with The Fabelmans cast, given the nature of the movie. The film is personal for the director, and according to Rogen's past interviews, Spielberg was quite emotional during production. Luckily for Neighbors actor and other cast members, Spielberg's long-time collaborator Tony Kushner co-wrote The Fabelmans, and he was on set to answer any questions the actors may have about the scenes that Spielberg might not have been up to discuss. Rogen continued:

I would actually talk to Tony [Kushner] a lot. Because what's real doesn't matter, it's more for like the movie. I would talk to Tony for hours and hours. And He loved to talk about the scenes. Steven was more like… I asked him from the get-go, and he was like, 'I don't like talking to the actors about the scenes,' and I was like, 'Okay. I won't do that.' [Laughs].

Kushner and Spielberg have had a long-standing working relationship and some incredible successes teaming together on past projects, such as their Oscar nominations for Munich in 2005 and Lincoln in 2012. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer also penned the script for Spielberg's West Side Story.

The Fablemans tells the story of a young aspiring filmmaker and his family's dynamic. Rogen plays Bennie Loewy, a close family friend of the Fabelmans, who becomes a surrogate uncle to the film's young protagonist, Sammy. The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to widespread acclaim and has already received lots of Oscar buzz. 

Any Steven Spielberg film is worth getting excited about but having it be such an emotional movie inspired by the filmmaker's real life is even more of a reason to check it out in cinemas now. Here's hoping Seth Rogen feels like all those uncomfortable questions were worth asking and helped inform his character. One can't be sure until one sees it for themselves. For all your movie-going plans, stay tuned to CinemaBlend and check out our list of upcoming movie releases.

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing.