Seth Rogen 'would be jealous' if someone else played Donkey Kong

Seth Rogen voices Donkey Kong in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Seth Rogen voices Donkey Kong in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, March 29 (UPI) -- Seth Rogen said he agreed to voice Donkey Kong in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, in theaters April 5, because he couldn't bear the thought of anyone else playing the part.

"The lens I put my creative choices through is: Would I be jealous if I saw this movie came out and I wasn't a part of it?" Rogen told UPI in a Zoom interview. "I would maybe feel jealous of whoever else got to do it."


Donkey Kong is the gorilla in the video game that introduced Mario. Then, Mario got his own spin-off, Mario Bros., which led to the game Super Mario Bros.

The animated movie adapts Super Mario Bros., but incorporates several Nintendo games like Mario Kart. Mario (voice of Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) fall through a pipe under Brooklyn and enter the Mushroom Kingdom and Dark Lands from the game.


Mario also visits the Jungle Kingdom and has to team up with Donkey Kong and his army to help rescue Luigi from Bowser (Jack Black). Rogen, 40, said he improvised a lot of Donkey Kong's jokes about Mario's height and facial hair.

"If you're a short guy with a mustache, I apologize in advance," Rogen said. "I throw some zingers your way."

Rogen said he grew up playing Donkey Kong on a Commodore Amiga 3000 computer. Then he discovered Mario Bros. in an arcade, and got a Nintendo Entertainment System in the '80s, which had both Mario Bros. and Super Mario.

Though Mario and Donkey Kong were nemeses in many games, The Super Mario Bros. Movie finds common ground between them. Both Mario and Donkey Kong struggle to live up to their fathers' expectations.

Rogen called that a "time-tested formula."

"Any time there's parallels between characters who have conflict, that's always a good thing in movies," Rogen said.

In live-action, Rogen's movies like Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express or the Neighbors films tend to have R ratings. Even PG-13 at the tamest, Rogen's live-action films are not intended for kids.

Rogen said animated films challenge him to adapt his comedy to family audiences.


"I don't know if I will ever make live-action movies for children necessarily," Rogen said. "With animation, and especially some of these types of kids movies, it is a fun way to try to deliver on the comedy that I normally enjoy doing - but for everybody."

Rogen got his first voiceover movie role as a ship captain in Shrek the Third. Dreamworks hired him again to voice Mantis in the Kung Fu Panda movies and play the lead monster, B.O.B., in Monsters vs. Aliens.

Rogen also voiced the warthog Pumbaa in the computer-animated remake of The Lion King. But, the animated movie Rogen wrote and produced, Sausage Party, was R-rated.

Sausage Party made $140 million worldwide, proving to Rogen that animation is not just for kids.

"Maybe studios viewed [animated movies] as this kid thing, but the average moviegoer did not," Rogen said. "They were thrilled to have different versions of it."

It was a sentiment echoed by Guillermo del Toro as he collected awards for his Netflix animated Pinocchio movie this year. Del Toro used his speeches to remind people in Hollywood that animation is not only for children.


Rogen has another animated movie out this summer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which falls somewhere in between PG family fare and his brand of hard R comedy.

Based on the Eastman and Laird comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adaptations have included a weekday afternoon animated show, live-action movies, animated movies and a touring stage show.

Rogen said his Turtles movie, which he also produced, represents "a very different tone, a very different style" of animation.

"It really shows how different animated movies can be, even if they are both for families," Rogen said.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens Aug. 4 in theaters.

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