LOS ANGELES He's better known for big studio comedies like "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express", but Seth Rogen strays from his beaten path when he stars in the low-budget comedy-drama "Take This Waltz".
Directed by Canadian actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley, and opening in U.S. theaters on Friday, the movie sees Rogen starring opposite Michelle Williams, who is better known for dramatic roles in films like "Blue Valentine".
Rogen plays a cookbook author with an alcoholic sister (Sarah Silverman) who doesn't seem to notice that his wife (Williams) has fallen for the handsome artist (Luke Kirby) that lives across the street.
Rogen, 30, talked with Reuters about working with Williams, and his upcoming directorial debut in "The End of the World".
Q: "Take This Waltz" is about a woman's marriage failing because she's in love with someone else. Not exactly a subject matter you're associated with. How did this project come about?
A: "I'm not one of those actors where filmmakers that I admire ask me to be in their movies. I meet them at parties and they're nice to me, but they never ask me to work with them. Sarah Polley is one of the first filmmakers that I've really liked that asked me."
Q: There is no trace here of the man-child roles you often play in your other movies. It's probably your most serious role to date, wouldn't you say?
A: "It's probably closer to what I am in real life. I think I'm one of those people that when fans meet, they're often very disappointed because I'm kind of quiet and shy. I think they expect me to have one of those hats with two beer cans strapped to my head and strippers on either side of me. So it was nice to do something where I didn't have to be really funny all the time."
Q: How did you enjoy working with Michelle Williams?
A: "She was very impressive. A lot of our scenes were emotionally demanding. The emotional turmoil that actors put themselves through at the drop of a hat is not the type of stuff I normally do."
Q: We seem to know more about Michelle Williams' character than yours. What's the back story you gave him?
A: "I think a lot of people aggressively stay stagnant, almost like a gauntlet that's thrown down. For Lou, the test of the relationship is 'Can we not change.' He thinks if it's strong enough to not change, that means it's strong enough to last. But that's not realistic or how real relationships are."
Q: You're currently making your feature directorial debut with writing partner Evan Goldberg on the comedy "The End of the World" that you also star in. How do you like directing?
A: "It was a little daunting because the movie itself is technically complicated. The story is something we've been working on for years and years. There have been several moments where I feel like, 'I can't believe we pulled this off!' But those wonderful moments have been shattered by the stress of 'We're not going to finish what we need to shoot in time!'"
Q: In that film, everybody plays a heightened version of themselves. You've got a lot of your friends in there like James Franco, Jonah Hill and Jason Segel. But also people like Rihanna and Emma Watson who seem unlikely to hang with your crowd in real life.
A: "It's James Franco's party in the movie. And the truth is, sometimes you go to a party and you can't believe who's there...I've had random famous people show up at my parties where I'm like, 'What the heck is this person doing here?' That's what we wanted to tap in to."
Q: How did you nab Rihanna?
A: "I read in an interview once that she was a fan of some of our movies. When we were working on this film, we thought, 'She seems not to hate us. She could be a good person to ask.' We got her on the phone, explained it to her and she agreed to do it. She was really funny, she improvised and did everything we asked her to do. And she seemed to have a good time."
Q: You act, write, direct, produce and are considered to be on Hollywood's A-list. Ever feel like you're on top of the world?
A: "As a Jewish person, you generally hate yourself, but there's moments where I feel that way."
(Reporting by Zorianna Kit, editing by Jill Serjeant and Carol Bishopric)