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Today, Seth Rogen is a household name, having starred in (and written, and directed) beloved comedies like Knocked Up and Superbad. But there was a point, about 15 years ago, where he was still an up-and-coming actor. His first film as a producer was The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which stars Steve Carell as Andy, an employee at an electronics store who wants to find a meaningful relationship. Here’s what Rogen had to say recently about working on the flick.

Seth Rogen
Seth Rogen | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

The inspiration behind his character

In addition to working behind the scenes on the film, Rogen played Cal, a “struggling novelist” who interacts with Carell’s character and encourages him to pursue women. Cal was a bit of a slacker and, as Rogen notes, “wore a lot of band t-shirts.” But the most noticeable thing about him was his tattoos.

“I covered myself in fake tattoos,” said Rogen to GQ. It’s because I went to a Best Buy to see if there was anyone I could base my character on. And a lot of guys there were tatted the f*** up. I was like, ‘That’s a funny thing, just in general, to be buying a stereo from a guy with really scary tattoos all over him.”

What it was like working with Steve Carell

Seth Rogen and Steve Carell in 2008
Seth Rogen and Steve Carell in 2008 | Ryan Miller/Getty Images

In 2005, when the film came out, everyone involved with it was on the precipice of fame. It was Judd Apatow’s directorial debut, and he wrote the film was Carell as his first starring vehicle. Carell was just starting out on The Office, so he wasn’t the big star he is today. Rogen recalls what it was like working with him then.

“I was great working with Steve Carell. I really have to say, you got the sense he was uncomfortable with how dirty the movie was,” said Rogen. “It’s funny because if you look at his career beyond that film, he never made another movie like that in any way, shape, or form. He changed direction. That movie is kind of an anomaly.”

Rogen wrote one of the movie’s most-quoted lines

Like many of Rogen’s films, there are a few scenes in The 40-Year-Old Virgin that fans recall time and time again. One of them is when Cal, Jay (Romany Malco), and David (Paul Rudd) take Andy to go get his body waxed in order to make him more appealing to women. This scene is notable because it famously was a very real experience — Carell was actually being waxed during filming. And one of his lines there is a fan-favorite to quote.

“I was a co-producer and would get writing assignments. I remember one of my assignments was to make things for [Carell] to scream as he was getting waxed so he didn’t have to think of it.” Rogen continued, “I was supposed to be making a dirty list and a clean list. The dirty list was easy and the clean list was hard. I remember I couldn’t think of anything and American Idol was on, and it was the year Kelly Clarkson was on. And I wrote ‘Kelly Clarkson’ [on the list].”

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