With the release this week of "Pineapple Express," Seth Rogen and James Franco will enter the rarefied (and cloudy) air of such pot-smoking pairs as Cheech and Chong and Harold and Kumar. But in truth, the super-violent action comedy, directed by art-house favorite David Gordon Green of all people, owes its greatest debt to '80s buddy films like "48 Hours" and "Midnight Run."
The script (by Rogen and his "Superbad" collaborator Evan Goldberg) throws together Saul Silver (Franco, in a revelatory comic tour de force), a dealer who samples more than a little of his own product, and stoner Dale Denton (Rogen), as they run from crooked cops and double-crossing friends (watch for Danny McBride in another scene-stealing turn).
Friends since their "Freaks and Geeks" days, Rogen and Franco laughed their way through this interview, touching on their switched-up roles, the palpable sexual tension between them and why Franco is now a "Hills" aficionado.
MTV: Seth, you wrote the part of Saul for yourself. How did James end up playing it?
Seth Rogen: I remember [producer Judd Apatow and I] were having lunch with James, and before [Franco] showed up, we were talking about, "Should we ask him if he wants to play the other role?" And then you showed up and wanted to play the other role, so it all kind of solidified.
MTV: Did the roles change much once the switch happened?
James Franco: My part didn't change much. Yours didn't change much either, other than you made the girlfriend be in high school.
Rogen: Exactly, that was the only difference. We thought, "Well, how do we approach this from my perspective? Who's the girl I could get?"
Franco: Who would date this dude? [Laughs.]
Rogen: A dumb 17-year-old. [Laughs.]
MTV: I'm going to bring up two words that I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable about: sexual tension.
Rogen: Yes, can you feel it right now? You can cut it with a knife. [Gesturing to his and Franco's legs] Our knees are touching.
MTV: In an earlier interview, Seth, you said that when you first saw James, you first imagined possibly having sex with a man.
Rogen: [Laughs.] Yes, I guess I did say that.
Franco: I actually felt the same way, but Seth was underage.
Rogen: I was underage. It would have been statutory.
Franco: He was only 16. We actually got some calls from the studios. "He's just a boy, James!"
Rogen: Exactly. "We've seen how you've been looking at him; we see you guys talking in the corner."
MTV: James you've played some amazing men, including James Dean, but I want to hear about getting into the role of Justin Bobby from "The Hills" for the parody on FunnyorDie.com.
Franco: Yes, that was great. They actually transcribed his dialogue word for word, and it was the most incredible thing I've ever read. I mean, you could not write that dialogue. I don't know what half of it meant, but it was great. It was fun.
MTV: Had you watched "The Hills" before that?
Franco: Well, I know Seth is a fan. I'd never seen it before, but I was immediately hooked.
MTV: Do you think you'll return to that character?
Rogen: I want to see a whole Justin Bobby movie! "The Adventures of Justin Bobby"! Go around talking nonsense, talking gibberish.
MTV: Let's get into some superhero territory. Seth, you now have a release date for "The Green Hornet."
Rogen: We've got a release date. We've got to make the movie now.
MTV: You told me way back that you were debating about whether to go for comedy or drama in the script. Where did you end up in the finished script?
Rogen: Somewhere in the middle, I think. I think the tone is very real, but the relationships in the movie are where we try to draw our comedy from. I think it's somewhere in a "True Lies"-type world with big exciting action, but the relationships are all very personal, and that's where a lot of the comedy comes from.
MTV: What's your look going to be for this? Are you bearded?
Rogen: I'm going to have dreadlocks, 4-foot-long dreadlocks. I'm going for a George Clinton-type look with this. [Laughs.]
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