One of the most impressive roles an actor can nab in Hollywood is a double bill with themselves. It’s not easily done, but when actors such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Rudd and Michael Keaton have pulled it off, it's the ultimate test of technical filmmaking and acting ability. In HBO Max’s first original film, An American Pickle, Seth Rogen plays a Jewish immigrant factory worker who is preserved in pickle brine for 100 years and lives to meet one of his descendants living in the present day, also played by Rogen.
While speaking on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Seth Rogen admitted he wasn’t always up to the task of playing both Herschel and Ben Greenbaum. Since he isn’t portraying the same person, he didn’t necessarily have to take on double roles either. The Interview actor said the following on the talk show:
It’s not something I went into lightly, and I actually tried to get out of it several times. 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.’
In order for Seth Rogen to have an actual beard as Herschel, the entirety of An American Pickle was filmed with the actor as the pickle-brined character and then filmed again with a clean-shaved Rogen playing a present-day man from Brooklyn. When on set, Rogen had a stand-in that he would often play off of for the scenes. It was an especially challenging shoot for the actor, especially in moments when the characters share the frame and their conversations also need to look organic.
You can check out Seth Rogen’s two characters in An American Pickle with the trailer below:
For those two performances to look as seamless as they do, even though they were filmed on two completely different days, is kind of insane. It definitely speaks to Seth Rogen’s ability as an actor. An American Pickle has been warmly received by critics, scoring a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg gave the movie four stars in his review, praising Rogen’s “two equally excellent performances.”
During his chat with Seth Meyers, Seth Rogen joked that playing double roles turned out to be a great time because he prefers to work with himself anyway. Sarcasm sensed, but it had to be rewarding to get to control two performances in the same project. Advanced acting!