Of course, Spielberg was humorously referencing Rogen’s film he co-wrote and co-starred in, “Superbad,” in which he played an eccentric police officer opposite high school dweeb duo Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. While it’s amusing to imagine a sober Spielberg seeking out Rogen’s comedies in his free time, it’s important to remember that Spielberg has been watching over Rogen’s career for quite some time — long before Rogen’s portrayal of Bennie Loewy.
In 1999, DreamWorks Television (an offshoot of DreamWorks, which Spielberg co-founded) produced “Freaks and Geeks,” which featured Rogen’s breakout performance as Ken Miller. Though the show was short-lived, it was a significant acting credit and would find a second life on streaming. “He’s been responsible for my entire career,” Rogen told Variety, reflecting on his working relationship with the director.
Back when “The Fabelmans” was in its pre-production phase, Spielberg admitted that he had imagined Rogen playing the role of Bennie. “I thought of Seth first; there was no second or third choice,” Spielberg said. “Literally, I sent him the script, and [when] he wanted to do it, he made me the happiest guy in the world.”
Rogen and Spielberg might make an unlikely pair on the surface, but they clearly have lots of respect for each other as individual artists. On Spielberg’s end, allowing Rogen to be part of “The Fabelmans” took a significant amount of trust. This film is such a personal study of the filmmaker’s most formative childhood memories, and Spielberg was constantly moved to tears throughout production. For the cast, there was an intense responsibility to handle this material with the highest respect. As Uncle Bennie, Rogen holds his weight against a cast of dramatic actors and proves he’s much more than just comedic relief.