Seth Rogen on Portraying Steve Wozniak, Aaron Sorkin’s Screenplay and Being “Blown Away” by Michael Fassbender
“It would almost take me out of it at times because of how good it was. Like something in my brain would go, ‘Whoa, he’s really going for it.'” – Seth Rogen on Working with Michael Fassbender
Seth Rogen isn’t exactly known for dramatic roles. Even the ones that cross over into drama, like in 50/50, are heavily influenced by his humorous persona. Because of that, many were surprised when Rogen was cast as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Danny Boyle‘s Steve Jobs biopic. In a conversation with Variety, Rogen reveals how he got into character, how he handled acting from an Aaron Sorkin screenplay, and why he found Michael Fassbender‘s performance so amazing.
Speaking with Wozniak about his time at Apple was only the first step of Rogen’s research. He says, “Well, I talked to Wozniak a lot. I went online and there’s a lot of his keynotes online and a lot of Wozniak’s speeches are online. There’s a documentary that shows [Apple co-worker] Joanna Hoffman and him interacting. Can I definitively tell you it played into the day-to-day experience of making the movie? Not with 100 percent certainty, but it couldn’t hurt. And it felt like you should do due diligence. There’s one video of Wozniak from 1985 or something giving a tour of the Apple museum at their headquarters, and that was something I watched a lot because it was one of the only videos of him from that time and I thought it was very interesting.”
Rogen also adds that working from Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay was also intimidating, but it eventually became comfortable. He explains, “There’s a lot of it. And a lot of times it was laden with technical jargon that I really don’t understand at all. But that being said, he writes in a way that if you approach it correctly, in my opinion, it sounds incredibly natural. But, and me and Fassbender would always talk about it, if the rhythm was, like, microscopically off, the scene didn’t work at all, and not until it completely clicked into place did it function. So there’s a much bigger margin of error with Sorkin’s style. It can be perfect and when it isn’t it can be — and I can’t think of an example where I’ve seen of this, but just in the process of making the movie there’s moments where you’re like, ‘That could not sound more like two people saying stuff that was written for them.’ And then when it clicks in it’s like, ‘Oh, no, it sounds like an actual conversation that people would have.'”
In addition, Rogen has high praise for Fassbender’s performance as Jobs. He says, “As we were doing it I was just, like, blown away by it. It would almost take me out of it at times because of how good it was. Like something in my brain would go, ‘Whoa, he’s really going for it.’ But that being said he’s very easy to work with. He wasn’t, like, demanding as far as his process goes. It felt like we were coming together to make it sing. But I’ve never seen an actor do something as challenging as what he did. He couldn’t hang out. Like every day he would just read the script. During rehearsals sometimes at six o’clock it was like, ‘Great, let’s go hang out.’ And he was like, ‘No, I’m going to go read the script three times.’ Because he had to just absorb it. He knew the entire movie backwards and forwards, which was the only way to achieve it. It was hard for me and I’m in like three scenes. So I can’t imagine what it was like for him.”