Seth Rogen has finally seen his film dreams come to life. With The Green Hornet premiere, years of work for Rogen have come to fruition. For his co-star Cameron Diaz, joining The Green Hornet cast was a no-brainer, since her character is so much more than superhero arm candy. Diaz and Rogen tell us all about the process of bringing one of the oldest comic books, radio serials and TV shows in pop culture to the big screen in 2011.
After The Green Hornet movie stalled in development for decades, Rogen was finally charged with the task by Sony Pictures to write a Green Hornet screenplay that brought the superhero into the 21st century.
The story of The Green Hornet follows Britt Reid [Seth Rogen], the son of a publishing mogul who has spent his life partying and shirking responsibility. When his father dies, Britt and one of his father’s ingenious employees Kato [Jay Chou] take on the persona of the most unlikely superheroes to fight evil in their crime-ridden city. Kato and the Green Hornet are born and the city’s emperor of evil, Christoph Waltz, must watch his notorious back.
The Green Hornet differs from other superhero stories as the Green Hornet and Kato pose as bad guys in the vigilante vein. Their plan is to “move” in on Waltz’s character’s turf and bring him down from the inside.
Rogen was initially thought of as a different choice to play the title character, but after witnessing the movie, he is the perfect choice. And Cameron Diaz is her usual terrific self as Rogen’s assistant who aids the crime-fighting duo on numerous levels.
Cameron Diaz & Seth Rogen: The Green Hornet scoop
SheKnows: Was it a challenge or a joy working on such a guy heavy action movie set, Cameron?
Cameron Diaz: I didn’t realize that it was such a huge action movie because I came in the first week of shooting and the last week of shooting and in all of my bits, there was no action. So I went away to be in another movie…
Seth Rogen: With a lot of action [Knight and Day].
Cameron Diaz: With a lot of action, and I came back [to The Green Hornet] and when I saw what they’d done I was like, “Wait a second. How did this happen? Why did I not know this?” Before we started also I went out and I took the Black Beauty car for a spin. So I should’ve put two and two together and realized. But, as far as the guys, it was awesome working with them — so much fun.
SheKnows: Seth, it’s widely known that you are a huge comic book fan. There isn’t a lot to go on in terms of the Green Hornet backstory, was it freeing to, in some ways, start from scratch?
Seth Rogen: Yeah. We really wanted to be able to inject our own sensibilities into it and our own sense of humor and the things that we love about superheroes and comic books ourselves. We kept some of the iconic things people know about The Green Hornet — Kato, the car, the gas gun, the song, [Cameron’s character] Lenore and the D.A. Plus, I would have no real interest in just doing a very literal interpretation of preexisting material. I see a lot of these comic book movies that come out now and you almost feel like anyone could pick up the first few editions of the comic book and say, “I want to shoot this,” and then six months later you have the origin story of most superheroes. That really didn’t interest us in any way.
SheKnows: Did you refer to the original Green Hornet radio show?
Seth Rogen: We tried to listen to almost all the radio serials. They’re a little outdated. I guess back then just hearing footsteps for thirty seconds straight was really suspenseful and interesting. The creaking of a door opening was real cinema at that time, but it’s a little hard to sit through hours of it at this point for me [laughs]. But I’m very stupid. In the beginning phases of writing the script, we did a ton of research just to gather ideas. We included little tips of the hat to the previous incarnations of it. The whole notion of me getting shot and having to conceal that from the police is from an episode of the TV show. We tried to update that for the movie.
Cameron Diaz gets in on the action
SheKnows: Some people are talking about the body count in The Green Hornet and how most comic book movies don’t actually show people dying. Was that ever a concern making the film?
Seth Rogen: I think if you’re going to make an action movie you might as well just go for it. It’s not explicit. It’s not in any way meant to inspire people to do anything crazy. It’s not supposed to instill any horrific images or anything like that. It’s all for the point of fun. I always thought that it was funny that on the old A-Team TV show they would shoot 400 people and none of them would die. We were fascinated how many people die in your average [film]. In Transformers, just Optimus Prime getting thrown through one building would kill 4,000 people and there’s no mention of it at all [laughs]. No one cares [but] we could never kill a dog. My girlfriend would never [put up with that]!
Cameron Diaz: You don’t kill dogs or old people.
SheKnows: Although Cameron, you do get to beat up both the Green Hornet and Kato…
Cameron Diaz: [Laughs] We actually had a lot of fun with that scene. We thought that she’d know self-defense a little bit. I can clearly beat up both of them so we had to kind of gauge how capable Lenore was and whether or not she had any moves. Basically, I got to beat them over the head with an umbrella for nearly half a day.
Seth Rogen: Yeah, you whacked us pretty good quite a few times. I think we broke a few umbrellas.
Cameron Diaz: But it was all for the greater good. They took it like men.
Seth Rogen: Like whiny men.
We all laugh.
The Green Hornet balances comedy & action
SheKnows: Seth, was it difficult to walk the line between having funny lines and making an action movie a comedy?
Seth Rogen: It was just how the characters related to one another that we hoped the humor would come from. I remember with the car, we were like, “Inspector Gadget’s car is too far.” That was our benchmark. We were like, “When it starts to become Inspector Gadget’s car, we’ve crossed the line.” The editing was where we were really able to play with all of that. You just had to generally be aware that the comedy should come from the characters and it all should feel real. It shouldn’t feel like we’re being funny just for the sake of being funny, but it should kind of feel like something that would maybe actually happen.
SheKnows: Seth, how did you get James Franco to make a fantastic cameo at the beginning of the film?
Cameron Diaz: Seth has something that he could use against James. So, he used it [laughs].
Seth Rogen: [Laughs] Me and James were married briefly in Antigua a few years ago and I promised to keep it under wraps. No, I’m kidding! Sometimes you just ask someone to do something, they say yes and it really works out as easily as you could hope. That’s one of those situations. He just liked the scene and was excited to work with Christoph [Waltz] and we promised we could do it in a short amount of time. He came and it was great.
SheKnows: As is the case in The Green Hornet TV show and the comic, the Green Hornet gets the girl. Yet, in the movie, clearly he doesn’t. Why?
Seth Rogen: Actually, it was our instinct that Kato should wind up with the girl and Cameron, actually, had the amazing idea that no one should end up with the girl which was really funny. I think it serves the friendship between me and Jay more. We think there’s this huge competition going on and there’s literally no competition. Neither of us has a chance at all. To us, that kind of became this funny play off of the traditional love triangle that you might find in one of these movies.
Cameron Diaz: And it relieved the story of having to wrap up that storyline which is usually what kills the end of a movie. It takes Lenore away from then having to choose between the romance and taking care of the villain. [Romance] just felt really outdated, like they always end up with the girl. So what is the girl there for? Just to serve them? In this movie, she actually is an integral part of how they accomplish what they accomplish. That’s the purpose of her in the story rather than just being arm candy. And having to wrap that up is so boring.
Seth Rogen: That’s a really good and simple way of putting it. Often when I watch these superhero movies, as soon as the romantic story starts, I want to kill myself. So we thought that it would be best to minimize that as much as possible.