Seth Rogen Asks Rose Byrne Everything He’s Always Wanted to Know
If you’re not watching Physical, you should be. The Apple TV dramedy has taken a leap in its second season, thanks in large part to Rose Byrne’s three-dimensional portrayal as Sheila Rubin, a former housewife who builds a fitness empire in the ‘80s while dealing with her own trauma. The role is a perfect showcase of Rose’s talents, who over the years has moved seamlessly between drama and comedy in movies like Bridesmaids and BAM’s Medea, in which she starred opposite her husband Bobby Cannavale. One person who’s very familiar with her talents is Seth Rogen, who starred alongside Byrne in the Neighbors movies, and who is currently with her shooting Platonic, an Apple TV series about former best friends who reconnect as adults and try to make up. They recently took a break from filming so Rogen could ask Byrne a bunch of questions he’s always wanted to know the answers to.
SETH ROGEN: How’s it going?
ROSE BYRNE: Thanks for doing this.
ROGEN: No problem, how’s your day so far?
BYRNE: You’re such a sweetheart. You spend enough time with me, now you’ve gotta do this as well. [Laughs]
ROGEN: My pleasure. Where are you right now?
BYRNE: We’re at the Beckman School. It’s a very lovely school in the valley. How’s your day?
ROGEN: Pretty good. Been busy.
BYRNE: Yeah, have you been doing Pumbaa?
ROGEN: No, I’m on this show Invincible, an animated superhero show with Steven Yeun. Are you ready for our interview? I guess it’s happening—this might be part of it. Do you have a specific agenda that you would like me to prioritize? [Laughs]
BYRNE: To make it as painless as possible for you.
ROGEN: Easy peasy. What’s funny is I’ve done a few of these for Interview and what’s good is it’s given me the opportunity of asking people questions that I probably should have asked them throughout the massive amount of time I’ve known them but just never got around to it. [Laughs]
BYRNE: I would feel the same way. And look, I’ll probably end up asking you questions.
ROGEN: Feel free. How did you actually start acting, Rose Byrne? That’s my first question.
BYRNE: Well, I grew up in this neighborhood called Balmain in Sydney, like in the inner city. And there were a bunch of kids who used to go to a theater program called the Australian Theatre for Young People, which I am the ambassador for, along with Rebel Wilson.
ROGEN: There you go. In good company. [Laughs]
BYRNE: And then from there, I got a casting agent and started auditioning for little TV jobs in Australia.
ROGEN: Were you on the Australian Neighbors at any point?
BYRNE: I mean, I auditioned for Home and Away.
ROGEN: I’ve heard of Home and Away.
BYRNE: Did you get it in Canada?
ROGEN: I think it’s on in Canada. Yeah.
BYRNE: Okay. Yeah, we got Degrassi, which I love. [Laughs] So raunchy.
ROGEN: Oh they had some very hard hitting subjects on Degrassi. They weren’t afraid to get into it.
BYRNE: Nope. It felt real, it felt raw.
ROGEN: And then what was your first professional acting job? When did you go to America? Was it Troy? Was it Troy! I could just ask you a good 30 minutes of questions about Troy if I’m being totally honest [Laughs].
BYRNE: I think that would be more interesting. I would be totally fine with that.
ROGEN: Why were you in that tent? What were you doing in there? [Laughs]
BYRNE: [Laughs] What the fuck are you doing in that tent? Why do you look so miserable? What’s wrong with you? No, my first job was this very strange Australian movie—and charming movie I should add—called Dallas Doll which was this movie with the great Sandra Bernhard.
ROGEN: Dallas Doll?
BYRNE: Dallas Doll, not to be confused with Debbie Does Dallas.
ROGEN: No, not at all. [Laughs]
BYRNE: [Laughs] And I played a young kid in the family. That was my first professional paid job when I was 13. I’m a child actress.
ROGEN: Was that on the heels of what I’ll refer to as Australia mania? How did Australians perceive what was happening with the Crocodile Dundee and Yahoo Serious of it all?
BYRNE: Firstly, I love that you know Yahoo Serious.
ROGEN: Oh, of course I know. I was a big Young Einstein fan.
BYRNE: Charming movie.
ROGEN: It really was. As a young Australian performer, were you like, “This is good.” Like, “We’re, we’re making our footprint in America.”
BYRNE: That’s hysterical. Listen, of course Australia is probably not dissimilar to Canada. Anyone who has any sort of success or notoriety or anything on an international level is immediately granted some kind of special pass. It’s a thing of when you come from a smaller populated country—
ROGEN: Yeah, you’re proud of it.
ROGEN: What was your first job in America?
BYRNE: This movie called Wicker Park with Josh Hartnett and Diane Kruger and Matthew Lillard. We shot it in Montreal, one of the parts of your lovely country and it was very cold. It was winter.
ROGEN: Did you get cast out of Australia?
BYRNE: I was in Los Angeles, hustling, just going over and doing three-month stints and auditioning and meeting and just trying to get a job. I had gotten an agent at that point there.
ROGEN: What was the twist in Wicker Park? Spoiler alert. Is it a murder? Is there a ghost involved?
BYRNE: It should have been a ghost. I think it would have been better if there had been a ghost —it might have really improved. It was based on a very cool French film, actually—and they rewrote it for Josh. My character was the cuckoo one and obsessed with him. It was a very complicated love triangle.
ROGEN: Did it do well?
BYRNE: I don’t think it did particularly well, no.
ROGEN: [Laughs] But did it help you then to start getting other work?
BYRNE: While I was doing that I was auditioning for Troy, which was this epic Warner Brothers thing that Wolfgang Petersen directed. And so weirdly Diane Kruger got cast as Helen of Troy and we were doing Wicker Park at the same time and auditioning at the same time for Troy. So it was very odd. We spent sort of two years working together. I went on to do that job, which was insane. It was like this multi-million dollar ridiculous thing in the middle of Malta and Mexico. It was fun, besides the character being pretty tortured.
ROGEN: You’re literally chained up in a tent the entire film? [Laughs] In my head you’re surrounded by candles and blankets a lot. I don’t remember, are you there of your free will?
BYRNE: No! She gets captured. She’s referred to as the spoils of war, she’s in all of the mythology and everything. Then I kill Brian Cox in it, which is a fun fact.
ROGEN: There you go!
BYRNE: Stabbed him in the neck. That was pretty fun. [Both laugh] Now he lives around the corner from me in Brooklyn.
ROGEN: That’s nice. Do you guys reminisce about that from time to time?
BYRNE: Always! It was a lot of drama. It was actually a really fun part. It was very juicy.
ROGEN: That’s when I first noticed Rose Byrne.
BYRNE: I feel like they haven’t made one of those things for a while, those sort of epic, old fashion type [films].
ROGEN: Sword and sandal films as they were called.
BYRNE: Swords and sandals!
ROGEN: Was Get Him to the Greek the first like comedic thing you did?
BYRNE: Oh yeah, I remember auditioning for a Ben Stiller movie. I had said, why don’t I try to audition for something funny. Trying to just get work, and being Australian—we have good senses of humor. But we know plenty of funny people who aren’t funny actors and funny actors who aren’t funny people, right?
ROGEN: No, it doesn’t necessarily matter.
BYRNE: It doesn’t really matter. At all. [Laughs] But I nearly auditioned for Knocked Up. I was about to go in, and they cast Anne Hathaway.
ROGEN: And then she quit and we cast Katherine Heigl. [Laughs]
BYRNE: And then here we are now all back together again. And the only reason I think I got cast on Get Him to the Greek was because Emily Blunt was supposed to do it and she couldn’t, so I have her to thank for not being able to.
ROGEN: I had no idea. That’s so funny.
BYRNE: Let me double check that, but I think that’s right.
ROGEN: Let’s just say it’s true. [Laughs] Let’s talk about Physical, Rose, because I know you want to more than anything. That’s what we’re here to promote. What’s funny is when I was young, I used to read interviews and not understand that it was to promote a thing.
BYRNE: It is fun when you listen to one that’s just rambling nonsense. If you enjoy the artists it can be fun to hear some rambling.
ROGEN: Well, what sticks out to me is something that you said about Physical is how physically hard it must be to make that show. [Laughs]
BYRNE: It really is. It’s not called Physical for nothing. I am working hard out there. I’m deeply uncoordinated. I’m not a natural dancer or talking while I’m dancing or anything like that.
ROGEN: How much of the training did you have to do?
BYRNE: I started probably two or three months in advance just doing it on Zoom, doing lessons.
ROGEN: Really? [Laughs]
BYRNE: The moves are funny. But aerobics, a lot of those moves really cause injury. So you have to be somewhat careful that you’re making it look authentic, but also not slipping a disc or anything like that.
ROGEN: When you first started, were you like, “It’s so much harder to act and do this over and over again’?
BYRNE: No, of course I didn’t, Seth. That component was compartmentalized. I was like, “Oh, I’ll figure that out.” Thank god my coach, the choreographer Jennifer Hamilton, became like my cheerleader. I really leaned on her, because that first season was in Covid. It was hell, just masks and shields. And someone got Covid and everyone would walk off set, it was when it was quite scary. Did you shoot in that time when it was really bad?
ROGEN: We did Pam and Tommy after there were vaccines. I didn’t shoot anything in that first year when there were no vaccines.I had shot one day on Curb Your Enthusiasm during that time. It was terrifying.
BYRNE: I can’t believe [Larry David] did that. How did he do that?
ROGEN: He didn’t seem to care. He was not that worked up about it.
BYRNE: But how does that make sense?
ROGEN: I think there’s like a point where, if you’re an old enough guy, you don’t care about it. My father-in-law and my parents didn’t care about it. I think there’s an age where you’re just like, “Fuck this.”
BYRNE: They should be the most worried.
ROGEN: I know they were ready to go. They didn’t care.
BYRNE: Yeah, that’s weird.
ROGEN: And then when did you do the second season?
BYRNE: We did the second season right before this. So I’ve been acting for like 10 months, right before we started Platonic. So, I’ve been doing a lot of acting. I need to stop.
ROGEN: You need to stop acting.
BYRNE: You know when you do a couple of things—
ROGEN: No, this is exhausting. Like, what we are shooting now is the most acting I have done in a long time and I’m not coming off directly off of another thing.
BYRNE: Pam and Tommy. That’s a good chunk for you, Right?
ROGEN: Yeah, there were entire episodes I wasn’t in, though. And we shot them one at a time. So I’d have three weeks off.
BYRNE: Yeah, that’s a nice schedule.
ROGEN: Yeah, it was super nice. We’re almost on the homestretch.
BYRNE: I just realized the other day I feel a little bit more tired because I’ve got the kids.
ROGEN: You carry it well.
BYRNE: It’s so different from Physical. Such a different tone. I’ve been amazed how much I’m enjoying shooting the comedy for the most part.
ROGEN: Well we’ve talked for technically long enough, so is there anything you want to say in closing before we wrap it up? Anything you want to leave Interview readers with in regards to the promotional efforts of your show before we end? [Laughs]
BYRNE: Oh my god this is where I should have some very clever things to say. You’re better at this stuff!
ROGEN: Watch Physical! Checkout Physical on Apple TV+! Season 2! Starring the incomparable Rose Byrne. It was very hard for her to learn the lines and dance. Marvel at how easily it comes across.