Vanity Fair’s new comedy issue is highlighted by a massive oral history of Freaks and Geeks, the now-classic TV show that rivals only Arrested Development in the canceled-way-too-soon category. It was the first big break for mega-stars of today like James Franco, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen but was filled out by an incredible cast that’s still exciting to see when they pop up in movies and TV shows today.
Creators Judd Apatow and Paul Feig were as impressed with Rogen as anyone on the show, though, and in the oral history it’s clear he was on his way to becoming a huge movie star when Freaks and Geeks was filming in 1999-2000. Below is his audition tape for the show, which apparently blew Apatow and Feig away. The future star of Pineapple Express, Knocked Up, and 50/50 was just 16 at the time.
“At the time, I kind of had a chip on my shoulder, you know, because I hadn’t gotten any girls to sleep with me yet,” Rogen said of his tryout. “I was incredibly angry and repressed, and I think they saw me as this kind of weird, sarcastic guy and started writing towards that. But then they got to know me and saw me as a nice guy, and that revealed itself as the show progressed.”
Interesting side: In between takes of playing the sarcastic Ken (or, in the case of the fake-ID episode, Jesus Garcia) Rogen was writing the script that would eventually become Superbad.