Seth Rogen and Mom on a Guilt Trip
By: Lynn Barker
Can you say “nightmare?” For a lot of us, that would be going on a long trip in the car with mom! If we’re old enough to drive, there would be the critique on our driving skills and tons of embarrassing questions about our relationships. The list goes on. In the new funny movie The Guilt Trip, chemist/inventor Seth is guilted into taking his mom (the great Barbra Streisand) along on a cross country trip to sell his “green” cleaning product. Will she be a help or a curse? The answer might surprise you.
We’re at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to sit down with Seth Rogan and legendary Ms. Streisand (who most recently made the “Focker” movies) and get the story of how they got together for the film. We learned that Seth helped Barbra get more “with it” on modern technology and hey, does Seth’s real mom drive him crazy?
Kidzworld: So how did you two get together for this film?
- Barbra: Well, Seth sussed me out (investigated her). He called people from the “Focker” movies, right?
- Seth: I did. Yeah, I think I was actually working with John Schwartzman who was the cinematographer on Meet the Fockers at the time this came up, and I think I asked him what he thought of Barbra, and he said she was great. I know Jay Roach a little, so I think I might have asked him. I think he said that she was awesome too.
- Barbra: Ben Stiller, you called him.
- Rogen: Ben Stiller, I think I might have run into and asked. This Barbra Streisand lady checked out. So I thought I'd give her a shot. (laughter)
- Barbra: I didn't know who to call. I don't any of those people from his movies. So what I was going to do? No. I thought he was adorable. So I thought, this is interesting, unlikely which makes it interesting, and yet, we're both Jewish. I could be his mother.
- Seth: But when we met, we got along. We got along very well.
- Barbra: Instantly.
Kidzworld: Barbra, Seth plays your son in this film but does your own son consider you to be an icon?
- Barbra: He doesn't see me as an icon. He sees me as his mother who touches his hair too much. But I love being an icon to anybody, equal rights, you know.
- Seth: Me, too.
Kidzworld: Seth, how crazy does your own mother drive you?
- Seth: Very. I think my mom drives me crazy sometimes. I have a good relationship. I see my parents a lot, but, yeah, it's a lot like in the movie. For no reason, I get annoyed. I'll just find myself kind of reverting back to like the mentality of a 14-year-old who just doesn't want to be around his parents.
- It's one of the things I related to most in the script, honestly. It was just that dynamic where your mother's trying, and the more she tries, the more she bugs you. And the more it bugs you, the more she tries. And you see her trying to say the thing that won't annoy you, and she can't. Yeah, all that is very, at times, real to my relationship with my mother.
Kidzworld: Barbra, did your son Jason want you to do this film?
- Barbra: Actually, he was very important in my decision to make the movie because he was recovering from back surgery. So he was in bed for a few days after and I brought the script over and read it out loud. His father was in the room too. We were both coddling our son. So he became the audience, and Jason was reading all the parts with me. And he said, ‘I think you should do it, mom.’ And I really trust his integrity and his opinion. He has great taste in whatever he chooses to do. It's amazing. So he clinched the deal.
Kidzworld: Who made who crack up the most during filming? We understand you got to just improv on the dialogue a lot.
- Seth: She cracked me up quite a bit.
- Barbra: Because it was more unexpected from me, probably, and I'm more serious.
- Seth: Very serious woman, this lady, incredibly serious.
- Barbra: (The filmmakers) would say, ‘Riff on your cousin,’ and we would just go, and they would laugh.
- Seth: The way we talk in real life is not entirely different than our rapport in the movie in some ways. We were getting along. It’s a lot of me trying to explain things to her about modern times and her trying to feed me s**t I don't want to eat.
- Barbra: And yet, he copied my iPhone. I was the one with the iPhone.
- Seth: She had an iPhone before me. I had a Blackberry. And then she was always playing games on her I phone. I was like, ‘I've got to get one of these. If Barbra can work an iPhone, it's got to be fun.’
- Barbra: But he would show me things like, yesterday, he asked me if I had a Twitter account. I said, ‘I don't know’.
- Seth: And I showed her that she did.
- Barbra: Which I only use for political purposes. So I didn't know what it was beyond that. I wouldn't know how to find it on my phone.
Kidzworld: Ms. Streisand, there is a lot of talk about the movie Les Miserables being sung live, on set. What would you think of doing that?
- Barbra: A Star Is Born was done live. I sang live. I sang live at the end of Funny Girl because I said to (my director), ‘How do you know where the emotion is going to hit you’? I'm a terrible lip-syncher anyway because I have to be in the moment. I can't lip-synch to something that I recorded three months before. So I thought it was great that (Les Mis director) Tom Hooper used that. Let the actors be live.
Kidzworld: This movie has a great balance of comedy and drama. What was hardest for you? The dramatic moments?
- Barbra: Eating steak. For a person who doesn't like steak, that was the hardest part. (Her character Joyce gets involved in a funny steak-eating contest at a steakhouse in Texas)
- But, comedy and drama? They're both the same. If anything is based on what reaches an audience is the truth, is honesty. So if you're saying something truthful that's a funny line, it's going to be funny. If it's a serious line, it's going to be serious, but I don't think there's a distinction between how you play drama or comedy if it's based in the truth.
Kidzworld: Barbra, you've had such an amazing career at this point. What do you think is the secret to your success, and what have you done right?
- Barbra: I don't make that many movies, and I don't make that many appearances.
- Seth: Leave them wanting more.
- Barbra: That's it. Less is more, and maybe that keeps a little mystery or something. I don't know. I like to stay home a lot. I like to do other things like decorate and build things.
Kidzworld: So you read the script with your son. What in the story did you connect to?
- Barbra: Mothers develop guilt trips. I mean, when I was working a lot, I'd feel guilty as a parent that I couldn't pick up my son every day from school, bake him cookies, that kind of thing. So I know that feeling a lot. They sense that guilt, children, and they're going through their own rebellious times or whatever.
- I thought it was interesting to investigate this trying to be my son's friend versus a mother.
Kidzworld: What do you want the fans to take away from the film?
- Barbra: I want them to be moved. I want them to identify. I want them to see themselves in the movie. I want them to get closer to their children, a lot of things.
- Seth: All that.
Kidzworld: Barbra, you can sing, compose, write, direct and everything you do so well. So what can you not do well?
- Barbra: I can't cook. I can't cook at all. I mean I would not know how to make coffee. Sort of boil an egg, maybe I could figure that one out.
- Seth: You should just try one day.
- Barbra: I took cooking classes. By the way, I know how to make chocolate soufflé but ask me if I want to make soufflé. I let somebody else make the chocolate soufflé, and I eat it. I found that when I took cooking classes, when I tried to cook, it was never appetizing to eat. I mean, I didn't want to eat it. The joy was gone. I was always filthy with the stuff, and then cleaning up. No, I don't like that.
Kidzworld: Seth, your character Andy is kind of different from the guys you’ve played before. How did you get into his head?
- Seth: You kind of are just thrown into the movie with him. So I thought I should just try to be as real and natural as possible. He's not a particularly funny guy. He's not even in a particularly good mood for the majority of the movie, but I thought that if you seem a little vulnerable, people seem to relate to that. And I think that was kind of the balance.
- I would do takes where I was more harsh with Barbra and takes where I was less harsh. And takes where I was more annoyed and less annoyed and takes where I was just fully entertained by her, and takes where I was like, oh, shut the f**k up.
- We knew that we’d (have to draw) a line. How annoying can she be versus how annoyed can he be, and when does that start to get grating? You've got to make sure you relate to both of them. Is it too much on her? Is it too much on him? So we talked a lot about it while we were filming.
Kidzworld: Barbra, what do you really like about the mom/son relationship in the movie?
- Barbra: I love it because it's a transformative kind of movie. I mean they start at one point, both of them kind of tragically alone, not finding a mate. And then, at the end, there are many more possibilities. The horizon's open. Oh, there's more to life than (going to) the Gap. (Seth’s character) took me out of my shell. It was a very loving gesture. So it's about love. I always say it's a different kind of love story.