Seth Rogen - born on April 15, 1982 - is a Jewish Canadian comedian and film and television actor, writer, and producer. By the time he was 25 years old he had acted in 23 movie and tv projects and had been a writer for four movies and two television shows - and was credited for being a producer as well for those four movies. You may notice I am using lots of "ands" - about a half-dozen in just the first two sentences. But they are necessary for probably one of the busiest young men in Hollywood right now, his name popping up seemingly everywhere in various roles - acting, writing, producing; hell, he's already voicing characters in animated features now (Horton Hears a Who - 2008).
Despite him seemingly being spread quite thin these days, his focus seems to be writing/producing and acting in a niche of films starting with acting in The 40-Year-Old Virgin * in 2005 - along with the exceedingly funny Steve Carell - and following up with Knocked Up and Superbad in 2007, teaming up with American actor/writer/producer Judd Apatow and fellow Canadian writer/producer Evan Goldberg. Even though there is no name for this series of films - which also includes 2008's Drillbit Taylor (for which Seth is actually not acting in) - you can definitely lump them together, with the reusing of many of the same writers and actors, most notably the plump Jonah Hill who actually played a younger version of Rogen in Superbad. I like to compare these films to the Kevin Smith projects in the '90s: similar reusing of actors/writers and similar humor. Although Rogen hasn't directed any of the films he's been involved in - yet - I think you can also compare his sudden splash into the Industry to Smith's in many ways.
But how did Seth Rogen achieve such sudden and versatile success?
Well, he's talented, for one; these films are quite hilarious - especially Virgin. Rogen's writing, and acting, rely heavily more and more as his career progresses on improvisational dialogue. The bonus features on Virgin show a much longer version of the "you're so gay"/video game playing scene with Rogen and Paul Rudd (who is also in Knocked Up) coming up with about 80% more banter than what made the final cut. This makes the films seem more real, as it usually does, provided its done well. And with Rogen it usually is.
I also think it's also his Everyman appeal. Perhaps you could say (somewhat derisively, though, depending on your take on it) he's a Fanboy like Smith or Joss Whedon which other so-called Fanboys can relate and do flock to: he seems to be well-versed in popular culture, particularly Geekdom and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the soft core drug culture; he's overweight, is not overly concerned with managing his facial hair, has no regard for high fashion, and looks to be a cool dude you'd like to hang out with, but maybe not crashing on your couch for more than a day or two. (Your "stash" might vanish and supply of snack foods might dwindle.) Indeed, it seems that he is in real life the character that he plays in Knocked Up.
But to maybe answer the question of his sudden success more in-depth, we should examine his origins.
Seth Rogen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, the son of Sandy, a social worker, and Mark Rogen, who works for non-profit organizations and with a Workmen's Circle. He began showing his talents with stand-up comedy, starting with Camp Miriam, a Habonim Dror camp, and after taking a comedy class at thirteen he followed that up by taking second in the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest at sixteen. He was a hit with his trademark deadpan humor.
His light film and commercial work in his early teens probably led to his big break came in the late 90's when, with only two auditions, he landed his first starring role in the Judd Apatow/Paul Feig 1980-set teen series Freaks and Geeks, which only lasted about a year (1999 - 2000). He landed a similar role, cast in Apatow's second, also short-lived series Undeclared (2001 - 2002) for which he also wrote several episodes. He had a minor role in the film Donnie Darko but after his appearance on the television series Dawson's Creek - in an episode he claims to have never seen - he decided he was finished with the small screen unless he was teamed up with Apatow.
This is where his writing career started to blossom. Teamed up with Evan Goldberg who had cowritten with him on Undeclared, he joined the writing staff of Da Ali G Show for its second season. This is where he was nominated, along with the rest of the staff, for an Emmy. Ali G's demise did not end his association with its star, Sacha Baron Cohen; Rogen claims to have have uncredited contributions to Cohen's Borat movie.
This led to The 40-Year-Old Virgin*, after which Apatow approached Rogen about more starring roles. After Apatow convinced Rogen that science fiction was not the way to go, which Rogen had excitedly suggested, but rather sticking to real-life situations seemed to be where he was most talented, Knocked Up was "born." And then very shortly afterward came Rogen and Apatow's quasi-autobiographical Superbad.
As already alluded to, today he is involved in lots of projects. I don't know when the man sleeps. I just hope, and maybe he does himself, that he's not a flash in the pan, that he doesn't burn out, and that his career keeps chugging on. But this torrid pace he's on is bound to slow down eventually. Hopefully before this out-of-shape dude wears out his ticker.
* The 40-Year-Old Virgin is listed as "The 40 Year Old Virgin" with no hyphens on imdb.com. There seems to be some debate on whether the official title is hyphenated or not. So I'll create a nodeshell for both. I haven't decided which one to fill yet. Probably the hyphenated since that is what is on the movie poster.
Sources: Wikipedia and IMDB.com