Over the years, Seth Rogen has established a towering presence in the world of slacker comedies. But the actor’s work in the action genre has been less well-received, with the most well-known project, The Green Hornet, being deemed a critical and commercial failure. In a recent interview, Rogen revealed that he has been working on a new action movie for the past five years, that is “heavily inspired by Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan.”
According to the star actor and producer, the movie, titled Escape, will rely almost entirely on physical comedy instead of dialogs for humor. He has this to say about it in a recent interview.
“In Pineapple Express, the scenes people remember are the fights, the foot through the windshield and, like, with Neighbors, you think of the airbags’ – moments, that is, of outsize physical comedy. We were like, ‘Why are those just the supporting things? Why are those, amidst a sea of talky jokes, these things that pop up once in a while? Why don’t we make a bunch of these jokes and not rely on verbal humor?'”
When people think of action comedies today, they might think of Thor: Ragnarok or Antman. But stars like Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton have been doing stellar work in the genre for decades. It was to those icons of physical comedy that Rogen looked to for inspiration.
The story that Rogen came up with relies so completely on actions instead of words that instead of developing the project from a script, Rogen created a flipbook-style storyboard for the narrative, explaining that, “We need to know if these jokes are working, and if the timing is right. And you can’t do a table read and see if people laugh or not, because that would be me saying, like, ‘He throws the thing, it bounces off the door, it hits him in the face.’ We need to be able to see that!”
The movies that Rogen has worked on previously could hardly be called ambitious, but the actor has great respect for those filmmakers who go above and beyond for their craft. Citing the example of Paul Thomas Anderson, Rogen also talked about Alfonso Cuar&ón, who appeared virtually as a guest for a digital movie club Rogen hosted for his employees at his production company Point Grey.
“[Cuar&ón] talked about making [‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’] after he’d made some big studio films. And he said: ‘With this one, we wanted to make the movie we would have made before we even went to film school, as though we knew nothing. Any idea we had, we would do it, even if it seemed crazy or stupid or pretentious or whatever. We wouldn’t think about, Oh, it’s been done, or people will hate that, or that’s too weird.’ It was so cool to hear him talk about that. Because – speaking to experimentation – he’d been locked into this thing where he was making big, expensive movies very early in his career, and then he kind of went back and said, No, this is what I want to do: Reset what I’m known for and take insane swings.”
Hopefully, Rogen’s determination to take a big swing with “Escape” will result in the kind of cinematic gold that Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan have produced in their prime. This news originated from a story at nytimes.com.