An American Pickle Proved to Be a Difficult Improv Challenge for Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen has made his name in Hollywood as a comedy writer and actor. A large part of the actor’s comic sensibility comes from an improv background, which he has used to great effect in past films. But for An American Pickle, Rogen told Screen Rant that it was very difficult to add any fresh comedy elements on the spot to the scenes since he was playing both the lead roles of Herschel and Ben.

“It is incredibly difficult and not something that I would recommend people who are playing two roles in the same film plan to be able to do well! I’ve been improvising in film for around 15 years, and this was a very difficult version of that. You have to improvise both sides at once. I would improvise as Herschel, leaving pauses for what I knew I would later improvise back to myself as Ben, and then come back, weeks or months later and improvise the other half of the conversation… Which is tricky, I would say.”

RELATED: Streaming This Weekend: An American Pickle, The Tax Collector and More

The fact that the script was locked and largely remained untampered with during production meant the cast had a good idea from the start of the sensibilities of the project they were working on, and ratings-wise, the tone remained unchanged from start to finish, resulting in Seth Rogen’s first PG-13 movie in a decade.

“I think it was as we started filming it, that we realized it did not need any overly dirty elements. It was really about family, and so we were like, “Maybe we should make it a movie you can watch with your entire family and not be terrified of what might be coming on the screen and how uncomfortable it might make you! It was a realization we came to pretty early on in the process, that it was a PG-13 movie. I remember, we all looked at each other and thought, is that what’s happening? And it was!”

An American Pickle tells the tale of Herschel Greenbaum, played by Seth Rogen, an immigrant who comes to American and finds work in a pickle factory. An accident causes him to get preserved among the pickles he manufactured. Herschel awakes centuries later in modern-day America, where he meets his descendant Ben, also played by Rogen, who is an aspiring app developer. The difference in world view between Herschel and Ben as the two meet and the clash of their ideologies forms the rest of the plot.

The film has garnered mostly positive reviews after its release, with critics praising Rogen’s performance and the themes of family and spiritualism interwoven into the narrative, while the lack of any real stakes and a somewhat maudlin tone have also prompted some criticism.

Featuring a lead cast comprising of Seth Rogen, Sarah Snook, Jorma Taccone, Molly Evensen, and Eliot Glazer, An American Pickle is available to stream on HBO Max as part of the fledgling streaming service’s original programming. This news originated at ScreenRant.

Neeraj Chand

Comments are closed.