In “Neighbors” (2014), Seth Rogen plays Mac, a befuddled new dad locked in a battle of wills against a rowdy, dope-smoking fraternity that moves in next door. In “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” opening Friday, May 20, his foe is a sorority fighting for the right to drink booze in their own houses, just like frats do. The movies are funny in part because Mr. Rogen — marijuana advocate and star of stoner comedies like “Pineapple Express” — is so intently playing against type. He should be the one people are calling the cops on, not the other way around.
The truth is, while his real high school buddies were in college, Mr. Rogen was already gainfully employed. At 18, this Canadian-born actor was writing for “Undeclared,” the Judd Apatow TV series about, yes, college. “I remember being like, yeah, [expletive] them, they’re still in school — I’ve got a job, I live in L.A.,” he said. “And then I visited them and stayed in the dorms, and it blew my mind. It was so much fun. I was like, they live in these little rooms. They don’t have to do anything.”
In an interview in Universal City, Calif., Mr. Rogen, 34, talked about “Neighbors 2”; his coming animated feature, “Sausage Party” (he plays a lovesick wiener); and “The Interview,” a 2014 comedy about Kim Jong-un that led North Korea to threaten retaliation against the United States. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Frat boys are easy to hate. Did you have concerns about vilifying sorority members?
What’s different about this movie is that the sorority members are doing something that is just and correct in a lot of ways. That being said, I think young people are just scary to old people, and that actually made it easy to villainize them. As an older person, you’re just horrified of an 18-year-old. The moral part of their brain isn’t fully developed. When I was 18, I was psychotic.
Does it relate to Mac having a daughter?
We realized the film would be about the fear of our daughter not liking us, that we wouldn’t be able to relate to her when she became a teenager. So a group of teenage girls suddenly living next to us was a good way to reflect that story.
Both films had revenge as a central theme. Are you a vengeful person?
No, I’m really not. I’m not a competitive or a vengeful person, at all. I’m too lazy.
When “The Interview” controversy unfolded, what was it like for you and your co-star James Franco?
There were moments where we were watching the president talk about us, and we were in our offices laughing our [expletive] off. But then there were moments where it was like, no theater is going to show our movie now because there have been terrorist threats made against it. It bounced back and forth between being kind of amazing and being really horrible.
What’s up with the title “Sausage Party”? In America, we call those things hot dogs.
We do! And I really am playing a hot dog. It should be called “Hot Dog Party,” but it just doesn’t sound as good. You’re the first person of many who will point that out.
How did you come up with the voice?
My hot dog sounds exactly like me. People in the movie like Bill [Hader], Nick Kroll, they’re amazing at doing so many different voices. I’ve just got the one voice. My voice has locked me into a box.
If you could smoke weed with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Oh, that’s a good question. Barbra Streisand once told me a story where she smoked weed with Peter Sellers, which is one of the few stories that I’ve been outrageously jealous of. Peter Sellers would be a wonderful person to smoke weed with. Who else? Gandhi! Why not? (laughs) And Bob Marley, because, of course.