Seth Rogen leads An American Pickle as not one, but two characters. First we meet Herschel Greenbaum who immigrates to America in 1919. He’s determined to do whatever it takes to make sure his family becomes a success, but then he falls into a pickle vat and winds up being preserved by the brine for 100 years. When he reemerges in the present day, he goes to live with his great grandson, the very tech-savvy Ben, also played by Rogen.
Given his great success in the genre, when you get a pitch for a comedy that has Rogen playing two characters like this, it’s probably easy to assume you’re going to get a certain type of style and humor from that concept. And that’s exactly what happened when Rogen first pitched American Pickle:
“I would think that maybe projections were made that we did not correct as far as what the tone and style of the movie was going to be. You know, I think when you are filming a movie for a big studio that you have starred in many big comedies for in the past and that movie’s about you playing two roles, one of whom’s an old Eastern European Jew and the other his great-grandson, there’s the version that you assume we’re gonna make and we did not dissuade them from assuming that was what we were making.”
The final version of American Pickle might not be in line with those original expectations, but that’s what makes it special. Yes, it is an outlandish scenario, but it’s treated with such heart and sincerity that you wind up getting the best of both worlds, a good deal of laughs and something meaningful to hold on to after.
To hear more from Rogen on his unique experience making An American Pickle, his insistence on using his real beard to play Herschel, the beep system needed to ensure Ben’s reactions to Herschel were timed properly and more, check out the full video interview at the top of this article. An American Pickle arrives on HBO Max on August 6th!
- Rogen addresses the studio’s early assumption that this was going to be a sillier, more commercial movie.
- Even as a producer, was it tough to convince others to schedule the shoot around his beard?
- Rogen discusses being able to film the story playing one character first, and then the other.
- The beep system used to nail timing cues on set.
- Rogen talks about his upcoming Ninja Turtles movie and what’ll make it stand out from the films we’ve seen before.