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Oscars: How Seth Rogen got James Franco to be true to himself

February 18, 2011 |  2:00 pm

Franco Rogen 
James Franco says he probably wouldn’t be doing things like co-hosting this year’s Oscar telecast had he not made the 2008 stoner buddy-comedy “Pineapple Express” with Seth Rogen.

The two projects seem wildly unrelated to be sure. But hear him out.

After working together on the short-lived, Judd Apatow-produced ensemble TV comedy “Freaks and Geeks,” Franco and Rogen went off in different directions, seeing each other at the occasional party, but that’s about it. Rogen kept working with Apatow and became an unlikely leading man in “Knocked Up.” Franco wandered through pretty-boy roles, trying to find a niche in which he could be true to his real interests.

When they met again for “Pineapple,” Franco, who is also Oscar-nominated for his work in "127 Hours," was struck by Rogen’s frankness and I-am-what-I-am attitude. In interviews, Rogen would expound on the joys and occasional pitfalls of smoking weed. No subject was off limits. Nothing was held back.

“I’d look at Seth, and he just really showed me that I didn’t need to hide who I was,” Franco says. “So I’ve tried to follow his lead. I don’t need to be embarrassed about the many things I do.”

“So he’s got his pot …” Franco pauses here for half a minute, trying to stop himself from laughing. “… and I’ve got ‘General Hospital’ and whatever else I have going on. And if you want to know something about me? Just ask. I’m less guarded, thanks to Seth.”

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: James Franco, left, and Seth Rogen in "Pineapple Express." Credit: Columbia Pictures

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