While movie star, screenwriter, and weed-and-pottery entrepreneur Seth Rogen’s cuddly stoner pal image may have taken some residual damage lately from his wishy-washy and belated apology for working alongside accused sex creep James Franco, Stephen Colbert still welcomed a visit to The Late Show on Thursday. They didn’t talk at all about Rogen’s shuffling acknowledgement that simply wishing away Franco’s behavior and half-apologizing to a not-having-it Charlene Yi (and making light of the allegations of sexual misconduct against his friend and frequent collaborator on SNL) wasn’t going over well, instead focusing on some old-school Rogen genial garrulousness on other controversial figures, from Tom Cruise to Ted Cruz.
On the Cruise (not Cruz) front, Rogen, there to promote both his ceramics and cannabis business House Plant and his recent memoir, Year Book, the An American Pickle star related the book’s memorable account of the time noted Scientologist Cruise made his pitch for the notorious (let’s call it) religion to Rogen and pal Judd Apatow. Summoned to Cruise’s palatial pad to spitball career-revitalizing comedy ideas after that whole jumping on Oprah’s couch thing, the Knocked Up duo had to wait a bit, but did eventually get the soft sell on the Big S. (“It involved aliens, and volcanoes, and hydrogen bombs,” summed up Rogen). On the day, Rogen says, he froze in the headlamps of the world’s highest-wattage celebrity Scientology prophet, instead deferring to Apatow, who gave the noncommittal “Maybe next time” that got the two the hell out of that pickle.
As for Cruz (not Cruise), with whom Rogen has gone back and forth on Twitter of late, the comic called out those terming Rogen’s unequivocal smackdown of the Texas senator and universally loathed seditionist a “feud,” telling Colbert, “Feud implies equal ground.” And while that objection could certainly refer to the overwhelming imbalance in comeback skill between the comedy professional and the guy who thinks doing absolutely cringeworthy Simpsons impressions makes him seem more like the hu-man, Rogen was referring more to that whole trying to overthrow democracy issue.
“If someone’s trying to, like murder someone with a baseball bat, and someone’s yelling at that person to stop, is that a feud?,” asked Rogen, going on to use the same sports metaphor to refute the whole “Democrats aren’t as effective at governance as Republicans” cliché. “If you’re playing baseball against a team, and you’re, like, trying to get a lot of runs, and the other team is trying to bludgeon you to death,” opined Rogen, “Is it shocking that you’re not scoring as many runs as you should be scoring?”
But back to Cruz, a guy about whom Rogen, putting it bluntly, said, “Ted Cruz is a fascist. He denies the reality of the election. His words caused people to die, and I’m making jokes about it—is that a feud?” (Ted Cruz, currently and sweatily scribbling woefully lame comebacks somewhere in either Texas, Washington, or possibly Cancún, could not be reached for comment.) As for Colbert’s own pitch that a smoky sit-down with the senator might enable them to find some common ground, Rogen scoffed, “It would be beneficial to him because it would be humanizing in some way.” Noting that he’s tried, on a personal scale, to enact similar rapprochement with people in his life who think like Cruz, Rogen told Colbert, ruefully, “It’s ultimately horrifying.”