Twelve years ago, SXSW audiences were the first to discover that Seth Rogen was a leading man when the festival premiered a work-in-progress screening of Knocked Up. Three months later, Rogen had earned so much star clout that he reshaped the Hollywood comedy in his image: jokey and smokey and smarter than you expect, the wise-cracking slacker with perfect SATs.
SXSW is his lucky touchstone. It is where he debuted early cuts of everything from Observe and Report and Neighbors to Sausage Party and The Disaster Artist. And every time he comes, he’s miserable.
“Over the years, that’s almost become the most fun challenge: How do we make our work intellectually stimulating and have as much message as possible?”
“I’m honestly so stressed out when I’m there,” admits Rogen. “I really want people to like our work, so I’m just a bundle of nerves until our movies play — and then I just gorge myself on queso and barbecue and tequila.”
This year, Rogen is twice as anxious. He’s coming to SXSW with two premieres — one that circles back to his childhood and another that showcases his growth. On March 9, he will unveil his romantic comedy Long Shot. In the film, Rogen plays a principled political journalist named Fred Flarsky whose ethics get upended when he’s hired to write speeches for Charlize Theron’s Charlotte Field, a presidential candidate who also happens to be his childhood crush.