Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg — the pot-addled geniuses behind Superbad, This Is the End, and Pineapple Express — said their weed-friendly comedy films were wildly successful because they depicted cannabis use as a normal, everyday occurrence.
The two Hollywood heavyweights weighed in on their contributions to the cannabis legalization movement during a panel talk on Monday at the Collision Conference in Toronto, pegged by organizers as “North America’s fastest-growing tech conference.”
Given that Canada is banking nicely from its newly legal marijuana market, naturally, the event needed to include some cannabis aficionados. And Rogen and Goldberg are certainly experts: The two recently joined the legal weed game after founding their own Canadian cannabis company, Houseplant, back in March.
The panel’s host, Karan Wadhera of the cannabis investment firm Casa Verde Capital, started by stating, “You guys have had a busy couple of decades.”
“Yeah, and we’ve been stoned the entire time,” replied Rogen, followed by a roar of audience laughter.
“Not right now though!” Goldberg interjected. “That’d be crazy.”
Afterward, Wadhera asked the two filmmakers-turned-ganjaprenuers about how cannabis influenced their lives. Both Rogen and Goldberg were born and raised in Vancouver, where cannabis use was culturally accepted. But when they moved to Los Angeles as teens to embark on their film careers, they noticed that Americans generally stigmatized the herb — and that’s where they hit on their filmmaking niche.
As Rogen recalled:
I really saw that we had an opportunity with our work to help make people view [cannabis] the same way that we viewed it, in that it was an additive part of our day-to-day lives. So I would talk about it on talk shows all the time… David Letterman came to me once, and I was just like, ‘Why do you keep asking me about [weed]? I’ve talked about it so much on your show.’ And he was like, ‘Because no one else will talk about it. And I know, for other people, it’s a part of our lives. I’m just fascinated because you’re willing to talk about it.’
At the time, we were being very productive, we were producing a lot of movies, which, again, was playing against the stigma of someone who used as much weed as I did – and do. And then we really tried to start incorporating it into our work in a way that also kind of broke some of those stigmas.
Discussing a moment from their film The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Rogen continued:
There’s a scene where me and Paul Rudd are playing video games, and we’re smoking weed. And we’re talking about other stuff, but it was actually one of the first scenes in a movie where people are smoking weed, and they aren’t commenting on it. It is just a part of what they’re doing. And they aren’t pariahs on society, they’re just people hanging out [with] weed. It’s as if they’re drinking or something like that.
And, not surprisingly, they eventually discussed their most iconic weed film, Pineapple Express.
Goldberg: Pineapple Express was the moment where we realized how many people loved cannabis, and enjoy it, and it makes a difference in their lives, and they feel like it’s a normal part of their lives. And it was the first film [about cannabis] that was a giant financial win for a studio. [Previous weed comedies] were always small, weird movies that were for stoners, about stoners. [Pineapple Express] put it in a different lens cinema never had.
Rogen: It was a real movie, with a real budget, and —
Goldberg: It was a comedy, but it didn’t treat [cannabis] like a joke.
Rogen: It had a story, and it was a very thoughtful analysis of the dynamic between a drug dealer and someone that they sell drugs to. To this day, by far, it’s the movie that people come up to both of us and [tell us] they like, and I think it’s because it really appealed to all of these people who were forced to secretly love weed, and not themselves be able to talk about it, or not have it be a part of the culture… in a way that they truly related to. It was weirdly cathartic for a lot of people.
“Thank you, Prime Minister Trudeau,” Wadhera added, giving a nod to Canada’s pro-pot head-of-state.
During the talk, Rogen, Goldberg, and Wadhera touched on other weedy topics, like educating the public on proper pot use, the current state of the Canadian cannabis industry, and how tokers face unfair employment policies. Catch the full interview with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg below.
Follow Randy Robinson on Twitter