Seth Rogen Says Steven Spielberg Wouldn’t Talk To Him

Seth Rogen says that Steven Spielberg refused to speak to him about the character he played in The Fabelmans.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

seth rogen

In Steven Spielberg’s most personal film to date, Seth Rogen had both the unique opportunity and challenge of portraying a part very intimate to one of the most iconic filmmakers in Hollywood. In the semi-autobiographical film, The Fabelmans, which is loosely based on the Indiana Jones director’s life, Seth Rogen played Steven Spielberg’s fictionalized favorite uncle, Benny. Though Rogen was playing a part deeply connected to Spielberg, it seems that the famous director and producer wouldn’t talk to him on set, according to an interview the actor did with CinemaBlend.

The Fabelmans is a story about a boy who, like Spielberg, grew up in post-World War II era Arizona and is inspired to become a filmmaker after watching a movie that changes his life. The film was written by Spielberg and co-written by Tony Kushner. Spielberg also directed the semi-autobiographical story. 

One of the things that make Spielberg’s movies so relatable is how the movie-making icon combines reality with the adventures audiences are watching on screen. This strategy, which brings a certain charm unique to Spielberg films, usually combines elements that have often been inspired by the writer and director’s personal life. Now, with The Fabelmans, Spielberg explores how his love of cinema helped him understand his dysfunctional family.

It would be nerve-wracking enough to play a role based on a real person, but even more so if the person you are portraying is near and dear to the film’s writer and director. Seth Rogen plays Benny, a character inspired by Steven Spielberg’s real-life favorite uncle. Naturally, Rogen had plenty of questions on how to portray the character correctly, but the Saving Private Ryan director refused to speak with Rogen about the part.

Seth Rogen discussed how the film was a “personal journey” to Steven Spielberg that the actors were invited to join. Therefore, the Neighbors star didn’t feel uncomfortable asking personal questions in order to create a believable character. Rogen said that while Spielberg seemed to appreciate the actor’s commitment to the role, he didn’t like to talk to the actors directly.

Seth Rogen Steven Spielberg
Seth Rogen in The Fabelmans (2022)

Although it seems strange that the film’s director didn’t want to speak with the actors about the scenes, it’s understandable why it may have been difficult for Spielberg to do. Given the personal nature of the film, it’s reasonable that it would be tough for the director to open up about his backstory. 

Luckily, co-writer Tony Kushner is a long-time collaborator, and he was available on set to discuss the parts and answer any questions the actors might have that Spielberg was not comfortable talking about. Kushner has worked with Spielberg on many projects, including Munich in 2005, Lincoln in 2012, and West Side Story in 2021. 

Rogen said that he was happy to speak with Kushner about the scenes because, at the end of the day, what really happened in Spielberg’s life didn’t matter for what was being portrayed in the movie.

The Fabelmans was released earlier this month and won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and is favored for Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards.