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Talking to Seth Rogen

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If it’s tough for leggy blondes like Katherine Heigl to get noticed in Hollywood, what kind of chance do you have if you look like a beer-swilling, Cheetos-gorging Delta House pledge? Luckily for Seth Rogen, Heigl’s costar, this town isn’t always skin-deep. ”In a summer of big blockbusters, Rogen looks like the one guy who’s going to break through with something new,” says Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures, the studio behind Rogen’s second summer offering, Superbad. (The movie opens on Aug. 17.) ”Those two films look as good as anything to be successful surprises.”

With stars like Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler easing into their 40s, there’s an opening in Hollywood for a funnyman who not only appeals to the MySpace generation but is also a card-carrying member. And Rogen, 25, certainly fits the bill. But can one movie turn somebody into a superstar? Sure, just ask Steve Carell (The 40 Year-Old Virgin), Ben Stiller (There’s Something About Mary), or Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat). ”We need another big comedy star in this town,” says John Davis, veteran producer of Norbit. ”Hollywood loves comedies, and Knocked Up is a huge high-profile movie. If Rogen steals it, he could be the next big thing.”

Universal Pictures, the studio behind Knocked Up, moved the film’s opening up by two months when they first saw a finished print — and has been building buzz by screening it incessantly since March. (One reason Paramount chose to move its comedy Hot Rod out of June and into August was the strength of Knocked Up‘s test screenings.) ”After a full diet of megablockbusters,” says Adam Fogelson, Universal’s president of marketing, ”there is room in the marketplace for a comedy this hilarious that’s grounded in reality and truth.”

Rogen’s current reality is a whirlwind. A part of Judd Apatow’s creative coterie, the actor is already at work in another Apatow-produced comedy, The Pineapple Express. ”The opportunity for him to become a big star will be there, if he keeps a consistent high standard in his work,” says writer-director-actor Harold Ramis, who plays Rogen’s father in Knocked Up. ”I don’t see Seth getting carried away with his own success. The Judd Apatow school wouldn’t allow it. It thrives on self-deprecating humility.”

In fact, about the only one who seems the slightest bit skeptical about Rogen’s future is Rogen himself. ”It’s crazy and completely nuts to me,” he says. ”I really can’t believe it’s actually happening. It’s f—ing strange and awesome. I just hope there’s not a horrible, turning of the tides.”

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