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An Oral History of ‘Superbad’

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, and more remember making their seminal teen comedy.

Vanity Fair

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Still from 'Superbad'

By Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

At 13, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg didn’t connect to the standard ’90s teen comedies that were coming out in theaters. Instead, they were drawn to films like Clerks, Swingers, Out of Sight, Pulp Fiction, and The Daytrippers. So they started writing their own movie: a comedy about two kids trying to find alcohol and have sex with their high school crushes before going off to college called Superbad.

More than a decade later, Superbad finally opened in theaters. Immediately, the film was a hit that catapulted its cast—including Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, and Martha MacIsaac—into stardom. None of them imagined the impact the movie would have—except for Rogen and Goldberg, who never doubted that Superbad would be big.

Many years after the film’s 2007 release, you can still walk into Target and find McLovin T-shirts, and see dating app users declare that they’re “DTF”—a phrase that was coined by Jonah Hill’s friends that he used in the film. Mostly, though, Superbad endures because the film is as heartfelt as it is raunchy, thanks to the bond between the fictional Seth and Evan. As we watch these two best friends careen toward an uncertain future, Superbad also asks us all to reflect on one of the most important questions a teenager can ask: “Where can I find booze??”

We took a trip back to high school with the cast and crew of Superbad.

EVAN GOLDBERG (CO-SCREENWRITER/PRODUCER): Seth and I met in Bar Mitzvah class and went to the same high school. And there was this place [a video store] that would give you seven movies for seven bucks for seven days, and we would always go there and get seven awful movies and watch them.

SETH ROGEN (CO-SCREENWRITER/“OFFICER MICHAELS”): We’d pretty much get them based on the cover. You’d get mixed results on that.

GOLDBERG: One day we saw a movie that we genuinely do not know the name of, that was so bad we were like, “We could make a better movie than this!” And then we went upstairs, into my sister’s bedroom, where the computer was, and we opened Word—because we didn’t know there were other options—and we started writing an awful first draft of Superbad.

ROGEN: It was fundamentally about the same idea. Essentially there was a party and the guys were trying to buy beer. It was inspired largely just by our desire to buy alcohol at the time. That was very true. We liked going to house parties. We had a ton of house parties at our high school for whatever reason. And it always was a challenge to get booze.

GOLDBERG: Our original draft ended with them leaving the party, walking down the alleyway, and then Seth’s character makes fun of Michael Cera’s mother having nice breasts, and then he says, “Fuck you.” That was the end.

ROGEN: I was doing stand-up at the time, and I would try out the bits from the movie. And we would just see that these are funny ideas.

Much of Superbad was lifted directly from Goldberg and Rogen’s own lives. They really did know a girl who got her period while dancing; as teenagers, they wound up at an adult party where they watched people do cocaine. They really filled laundry detergent bottles with beer. There really is a Fogell. Many of the people mentioned throughout the film, such as Dan Remick and Mike Snider, are also actual people they knew.

When he was 16, Seth Rogen was cast in Judd Apatow’s cult series Freaks and Geeks. After the show was unceremoniously canceled in 2000, Apatow cast Rogen on Undeclared, which was also unceremoniously canceled after one season.

JUDD APATOW (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER): I heard that Seth was writing something when we did Freaks and Geeks, but he didn’t show it to me at that time. Seth and Evan had started their script when they were 13 years old, and already had something in its earliest form, which was incredibly funny and original. So we began to talk about if we could get into the shape where someone would actually allow us to make it.

SHAUNA ROBERTSON (PRODUCER): We had been talking about Superbad for years, and we had been trying to get it made. We all knew that this was the script that had to get made someday, somehow.

GREG MOTTOLA (DIRECTOR): I think it was probably towards the end of Undeclared that Judd told us that he was going to do a reading of Seth and Evan’s script. Seth read Seth and Jason Segal read Evan. I heard it, and I thought Wow. This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. It has an authenticity to it that you don’t often get with big teen comedies. I was also aware of the fact that teen comedies had kind of slowly morphed into PG-13, soft, brightly lit, palatable comedies.

ROGEN: R-rated comedies are so commonplace now. So commonplace that it’s on television. At the time, the idea of a big theatrical comedy that was very R-rated—especially one about high school kids—was really unheard of. Even though American Pie had come out. I think it’s because ours was just so much different than American Pie.

GOLDBERG: We had seen a lot of teen movies. The closest one with pre-teens was Stand By Me, where it was crazy and outrageous and it was funny, but it was real boys on a real journey walking down a real road.

ROGEN: We like American Pie. But I think in a lot of ways, Superbad was reactive to those types of movies. In those movies, there’s no sense that anything other than maybe raw sexual energy is what’s good and right. I think Superbad is more about these guys that grew up being exposed to that, not being uncomfortable with it, and how they don’t ultimately subscribe to that mentality.

APATOW: I kept encouraging Seth and Evan to continue developing the script. Over time, emotional elements were added which made it much deeper. It became about friendship, and the panic of starting a new phase of your life without your best friend.

ROGEN: I think because we were teenagers, we could see that they were missing the mark. It was so intuitive to us what was real and what wasn’t, and how the tone could really hit home with people because we were really making a movie that we wanted to see.

APATOW: At that time, there weren’t movies that starred high school kids that were that edgy. So when we tried to get people to take it seriously, you could feel that they were concerned about those issues.

Writer Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Writer Evan Goldberg, on set of Superbad in 2007. By Columbia Pictures/ Everett Collection.

GOLDBERG: I was in school in Montreal, and Seth was down there doing Undeclared. I would save up money lifeguarding and fly down, and we would pitch it to producers.

APATOW: At one point, we added a producer to the team, because I couldn’t seem to get anyone to greenlight the movie. And then a few months later, that person was named the head of Paramount Pictures. So we all thought, Oh. We’re going to get the greenlight now. Our producer is the head of the studio. And then one of the first things he did as the head of Paramount was say that he would not make Superbad.

As they struggled to get the film made, pitching it to anyone with money that would listen, Apatow’s profile was rising. He produced the hits Anchorman and Talladega Nights, and was directing his own smashes like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Suddenly, a window was open.

ROGEN: After Talladega Nights, Amy Pascal was like, “I’ll make every comedy that comes from these guys.” So while we were making Knocked Up, Superbad got greenlit and we began the casting process.

MOTTOLA: Judd asked me after the reading, “Would you ever consider directing this?” I said, ‘Yeah, of course!’ Then it was a good three years before I heard about it again. Within a few months of moving back to New York, Judd called me and he said, “Remember Superbad? Want to direct it?’”

ROGEN: He clearly understood this visceral level of, quote, unquote, reality that we wanted the movie to have. It closely resembles what we understand as the real world.

GOLDBERG: Greg Mottola was literally the first director I had ever met, besides Judd, and he was the first director I ever sat with who was like, “I love your script. If you guys ever get this going, consider me.”

With the script at Sony, the search began for the perfect duo to play Seth and Evan.

APATOW: It was always a debate about when Seth would age out. And I think after Seth playing an adult in 40-Year-Old Virgin and then someone who was having a pregnancy crisis when he was cast in Knocked Up, it felt like it might be weird for him to play a high school student.

ROGEN: We didn’t know who we were going to replace me with, but there were a few years where we were trying to sell the movie and I was just going to be the cop. Then for Evan, Jay Baruchel is the one who told me about Michael Cera. I had never even heard of him and he’s like, “There’s this guy, Michael Cera. You have to cast him. He’s genius.”

MICHAEL CERA (“EVAN”): I remember that I went in several times, reading with several different actors who were auditioning for the role of Seth, and just feeling a continual hopefulness that I was in the running.

JONAH HILL (“SETH”): We were making Knocked Up and they couldn’t find the lead, and I just thought it was a great part. I thought it was brilliant.

MOTTOLA: We all knew Jonah, and knew Jonah was great. But I got it in my head that we had to be careful to cast people who felt young. I was like, ‘Let’s just read people who are closer to the actual age,’ because Jonah was in his early 20s.

APATOW: Then the problem became there didn’t seem to be anybody in the world who was as funny as Michael.

GOLDBERG: Jonah was like, “I should play Seth. I should play Seth. I should play Seth.” And we said no like, 100 times. “You are too old looking.” And he said, “No, you’re too old looking. I’m not! I can do this with makeup and hair.”

APATOW: I said, “Go shave really well and put yourself on tape reading these two scenes.” He literally just wrapped, went in the trailer, recorded it, then came back. And it was immediately clear that he should’ve been cast a long time ago, and it was ridiculous that we ever thought there was an option other than him.

ROGEN: We took the tape from my trailer to Amy Pascal’s office and plugged it into her television. And she was like, “Yeah. Cast Jonah.”

With Jonah Hill and Michael Cera attached, the search for actors to play their respective love interests was on. Rogen—now playing Officer Michaels—also set out to find the perfect partner in crime to play Officer Slater. But no casting would create a more difficult obstacle than that of Fogell, a.k.a. McLovin—Seth and Evan’s annoying friend who, if played just right, had the potential to steal the movie.

GOLDBERG: The search for McLovin was where we really started to go into a Twilight Zone hole of madness. It became very evident that there were no actors who were right for the role.

MOTTOLA: [Casting director] Allison Jones, who was incredibly hard working, was putting up notices at high schools all over the Southern California area.

CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE (“MCLOVIN”): My buddies, who I was in a drama class with when I was in my senior year of high school, heard of an open audition for this movie. We all auditioned. I was the only one who got a callback, which was a little weird. And I went in a second time and read with Greg the director, and then got a third callback and read with Jonah and Mike.

HILL: Chris was really, really amazing off the bat. And I think he was really annoying to me at that time.

MOTTOLA: He played it like he was clearly the coolest guy in the room and everyone else was a nerd and a loser. He was Dean Martin instead of Jerry Lewis.

MINTZ-PLASSE: I was just, like, a scrawny kid. I was super stoked to be there. I had Seth and everyone sign my script because I didn’t think I was going to get the part.

APATOW: In the audition, he was very caustic and attacked Jonah and did improvs insulting Jonah.

ROGEN: Jonah immediately hated him. He was like, “That was fucking with my rhythm. I couldn’t perform with that guy.”

APATOW: Jonah said, “I don’t like that guy. I don’t want him doing it.” And I said, “That’s exactly why we’re hiring him. It couldn’t be more perfect. The fact that it bothers you is exactly what we want.”

Bill Hader and Seth Rogen. By Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

MARTHA MACISAAC (“BECCA”): I went on tape for it. I don’t even think I read the script. Then a few weeks later, I got a call that they were going to fly me down to do a screen test, after which I was like, Oh. I better read it. It was like, Oh my god! I have to say all those things. All right. Here we go. It was the drunk scene in the bedroom, which is all very different than what the original script was. In the original, some of it was far less PG, if that is imaginable, than what ended up in the movie.

EMMA STONE (“JULES”): I had auditioned for Allison Jones quite a few times. Then months went by, and I went, “Oh, God. I guess that was it.” Then they said, “Come in and audition with Jonah.” At the end of the scene he went off script and started improvising. And I was like, “Oh, my God. Okay.” We improvised back and forth for what felt like an hour and a half, but was probably five minutes.

MOTTOLA: Emma was someone who hadn’t done a movie before. I liked her from the first read. I thought, she’s got this great voice. She’s incredibly funny, she’s really interesting, she’s beautiful, but in an interesting way. I was shocked that she hadn’t already been in a bunch of movies because she was so coy.

STONE: I feel like it’s a real testament to the power of casting directors and all of these auditions that you think are failed auditions and these parts you don’t get. Sometimes someone remembers you, and asks you to come in for something and changes your whole life.

APATOW: There was a concern that she had the same color hair as Martha MacIsaac’s. And I said, “Well, maybe it could be like red or something.” So we dyed her hair red, which I think she had never done before. And since then, she has cursed me because now people love her with red hair and she’s had to live with that for a lot of her adult life.

BILL HADER (“OFFICER SLATER”): I was in You, Me, and Dupree. I had to shoot a couple of days in Hawaii, and Seth Rogen was in my scenes with me, and Evan Goldberg was there. My memory of it is they told me that they had a script.

ROGEN: It was just one of those things where, talking to him, I was like, “We would be funny together.” We have the same understanding of timing and tone and rhythm, we love all the same movies. We just hit it off right away.

HADER: I met with Judd Apatow and he said, “So Seth and Evan said they met you and they enjoyed meeting you. They wrote this movie called Superbad, and there’s a part for a cop that you’re going to play.” I remember he didn’t ask if I would play it. He said, “You’re gonna play this.”

ROGEN: Me and Bill actually went on a police ride-along in South Los Angeles. And it was truly one of the most terrifying experiences of my life because of the cop. The cop was the worst cop on Earth. Or maybe an incredibly average cop. [Laughs] A lot of the attitude honestly that we had in the movie was based off of this guy. He didn’t seem to give a fuck about anything. He was antagonizing people, bothering people. He saw it as funny. Everything we do in the movie was within the capabilities of how this guy we went on a ride-along with would potentially act.

With the cast in place—and the bizarre ride-alongs underway—the movie that once seemed too wild and profane to be greenlit finally went into production.

GOLDBERG: It was the best experience ever possible. Every single one of us on set was like, This is the chance of a lifetime.

HILL: Evan had this apartment, and he had parties and stuff. We’d all hang out there. It was a really fun, youthful, college-y type experience.

MINTZ-PLASSE: I had to work with an on-set teacher. So in between takes, everyone would watch the footage and joke around, and I would have to peace out and go to algebra. So it was a little less of a hangout for me.

STONE: I was a deeply insecure 17-year-old on Accutane, which can classically make you pretty depressed. And I was kind of like, “Oh, God,” in that headspace of a 17-year-old. But I have to say—and it’s not even something I really realized until recently—but that kind of team creates an environment where you’re walking into a sort of family unit. And I didn’t know that movies were any different than that, because it was my first. It had this sort of “Welcome into our club” feeling.

MACISAAC: As a Canadian, I somehow got taken in under their Canadian wing. And we were all the same age. I don’t know. I just felt, like, immediately part of their group.

MINTZ-PLASSE: I remember the dynamic [with Rogen and Hader] really working because I was overwhelmed. It was my first movie, and I was nervous. And there is a nervous energy to Fogell’s character when he’s first with the cops. He’s sitting in the back of this cop car with these two terrifying policemen with guns. So it actually helped with the energy.

MOTTOLA: We were kind of left alone. We were just making it, creating stuff as we went, changing stuff, and no one was breathing down our neck.

APATOW: Seth and Evan had done such detailed, obsessive work on the script over many years that by the time we got to the shoot, it was almost like a play that had been tried out of town.

The fun wasn’t just happening off-camera. Each member of the cast also looks back fondly on some of their favorite scenes.

HILL: I remember the home ec scene was really early on at the high school. And that was really fun. I just remember having so much fun with Emma.

STONE: It was all about making each other laugh, and who could kind of one-up each other and say something that’s just going to make everybody break. Jonah was beyond sweet to me from the very beginning. And he’s such a fun and loving person to work with.

CERA: I recall that we did several different versions [of the song he sings during the party sequence]. One where I’m just dancing, one where I’m singing “The Thong Song,” and then this version with “These Eyes.” I was personally very hopeful “The Thong Song” would make it into the movie, but now it feels undeniably right that it should be “These Eyes.”

ROBERTSON: We just asked people to come hang out. We’re like, “We can’t pay anyone, but you can come hang out with us.”

Writer Seth Rogen (left), Michael Cera (second from left), writer Evan Goldberg (back, center), Jonah Hill (front), Roger Iwata (second from right), producer Shauna Robertson (right), on set, 2007. By Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

MINTZ-PLASSE: I remember it was the first time I ever shot a gun, and we had to go to the shooting range to practice. It was insane. Shooting pistols—but then you’re at the shooting range, so it’s like, “Let’s get some bigger guns.”

HADER: Then it became all about giving Chris Mintz-Plasse the biggest gun possible. People had to stand behind him because the shotgun blast would knock him back really far.

MINTZ-PLASSE: They gave me, like, a shotgun. And I weigh like, 105 pounds. I’m the size of the shotgun. And I’m holding this thing and I shoot it, and it launches my whole body back. I’m turning the gun, and everyone’s like, “Fucking point it away, bro!”

HADER: I’ll tell you the thing I didn’t enjoy doing: I didn’t enjoy spinning that car around. We were hooked to this other car that was in the Fast and the Furious movies or something. There were these giant poles. It was in this school parking lot in Northridge and there were all these light poles everywhere. And every time, you thought you were going to smash into one.

When thinking about the movie’s edgiest moments, two sequences come to mind: The scene where Jonah’s character dances with a girl and winds up with a stain on his pants, and the infamous penis drawing scene.

ROBERTSON: We had great amounts of lengthy discussions about the period-blood dancing leg scene. Because once he’s got period blood on the leg, we’re kind of backed into a corner, and he’s got to have that as his costume for the rest of the movie. So if it doesn’t work, we’ve got to figure out something.

MOTTOLA: When I first read that, I was like, Oh. Is that offensive to women? I really did think about it. I didn’t want to do something that crossed the wrong line. Seth and Evan reassured me that we’re fine. [Laughs]

APATOW: It was one of those ideas where we thought, This is an all or nothing type of joke idea. It’s either going to be really funny and people are going to get it, or they’re going to be horrified and it’s going to sink the movie.

HILL: I gotta give Seth and Evan and Mottola so much props, because they locked themselves into that. They didn’t have another version they shot of that. Like, the rest of the movie, I had that on my leg.

APATOW: We definitely shot material so that if it had to be cut out, there was a path to edit the movie without it. There would be the problem of the stain, which maybe we would try to correct with CGI, but back then the CGI was more expensive than the budget of the film.

Now, onto the penis drawings.

ROGEN: We needed a reason for him to not like the Becca character. So that became a long walk, but worth the walk.

GOLDBERG: My brother was an artist when he was a kid, and he did all of the dick drawings in the movie. While he was studying for law school, he drew them all.

APATOW: I remember when we were shooting the penis-drawing scenes, we weren’t allowed to have the children see the penis drawings. So we had to create these shots where we had a body double for the kid, surrounded by penis drawings. And then we would just shoot the closeup and have them do all these reactions. And then we had to do reactions of the little kids to the penis drawings, but they never knew what they were reacting to.

MOTTOLA: When we were thinking about what can go, the editor said, “Well, the one thing that doesn’t move the story forward at all are the dick drawings.” And I just said, “Over my dead body. We’re not taking that out.”

Like most hard-R teen comedies, there’s a lot of talk about sex in Superbad. But while many teen comedies show idealized sexual encounters, Superbad takes the opposite route—playing up its characters’ fumbling awkwardness, as in Evan and Becca’s bedroom scene.

MACISAAC: Towards the end of shooting, Jonah came to set, even though he wasn’t shooting, and he was like, “This is gonna be so funny!” I remember Michael’s mom took him to work that day. And it was like, “She needs to leave immediately. Your mom can’t be here. She’s too kind. I can’t try to do that to you with your mother looking.” She left pretty quickly.

MINTZ-PLASSE: I remember being young and thinking it was cool: “Oh, my god. I’m gonna shoot a sex scene? That’s crazy!” I had never really even kissed a girl at the time.

MOTTOLA: I thought, The way I’m going to do this is closeups. So basically the camera is her point of view, then it flips and the camera becomes his point of view. So that they would never have to be on top of each other very much. We’d do a wideshot to get her into position on top of him, but we wouldn’t spend an enormous amount of potentially illegal time with both of them uncomfortable faking sex.

MINTZ-PLASSE: My mom had to be on set for the sex scene because I was 17 years old. She had to come down, which was pretty uncomfortable. She was loving it up, though. She was having the time of her life, watching her son do that.

With the film in the can, there was a lot of anticipation among the cast and crew. Would audiences go for it?

Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. By Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

MOTTOLA: We screened it for friends and family—an early cut because I like to think I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m not easily satisfied.

HADER: I went with Michael Bacall, this writer, and Edgar Wright, and we sat next to Emma Stone and her mom. We sat in the very back and it was a college crowd. And it just blew the roof off the place.

STONE: Everybody was just dying laughing, including us. 

APATOW: We showed it in the Valley, and I invited Cameron Crowe to the test screening, which felt perfect because he was a person that we were all inspired by. You know, everything we had done had been influenced by Say Anything and Fast Times at Ridgemont High—at least for me.

HILL: He came up to me and Michael afterwards, and he looked like he just saw a ghost or something. And he said, “That was insane.” We were so tripped out to meet Cameron Crowe.

CERA: I think the first time I ever saw it was at a test screening that Bob Odenkirk was attending, and mine and Jonah’s good friend Max Winkler was also at. I found it almost impossible to focus on anything other than what Bob was laughing at, and every now and then I’d hear Max’s laugh cutting through the crowd. It just felt really great that people were digging it.

ROBERTSON: We watched the studio watch it for the first time. I kept thinking, “They’re watching this big hit. And when they know how little money they gave us to make it, they must be so thrilled.” And I just kept watching their smiles get bigger and bigger.

APATOW: For a while, we weren’t tracking. We had a great trailer. But it was looking like it wasn’t going to open. And I remember jumping on a call with Amy Pascal begging her to throw more money into commercials, because we all felt like when people discover this, it’s going to take off. And she went for it.

MOTTOLA: They did a ton of grassroots stuff. They sent Bill, Jonah, Evan, and Chris around the country, showing it at colleges. They did, like, a full bus tour. Those guys were willing to do it. They just went from college town to college town and showed up all over the country. I think that was a big part of the word of mouth.

CERA: We went on a nation-wide and then international tour promoting it for about three months where it felt like we were strapped to some sort of publicity rocket.

APATOW: They worked really hard doing a lot of screenings and panels. I think at some point, everyone realized that they had pushed them too hard, because they really ran out of gas.

By the time the film was released on August 17, 2007, there was absolutely no escaping it. Superbad proved every studio exec and producer who declined to climb aboard wrong. Against a budget of $20 million, the film wound up raking in over $170 million at the box office. In the process, it became a cultural phenomenon.

GOLDBERG: I had full confidence that the movie was gonna do great. That’s what me, Judd, Seth, Greg, and Shauna always talked about. “If we could get this greenlit and do it the way we want, it’s going to work.”

ROGEN: I will say with confidence we 100% took its success for granted, in the most literal sense. I was not surprised. I look back, and I marvel at my attitude.

MOTTOLA: I think I was still surprised when the first weekend was as good as it was.

MACISAAC: My first time seeing it was at the premiere, and it was a huge premiere. I had never seen anything like that. My whole family came down. So I think I was sitting beside my dad and my older sister, just absolutely horrified—but also blown away.

CERA: Jonah and I were plastered on a full-building poster, which was shocking to see.

HILL: None of it seemed normal. It was weird. I was 22 or 23. But I think you could tell from the first time we screened it that people were freaking out. It was exciting, but I don’t think I quite understood what it would be like.

APATOW: I remember when it came out, James L. Brooks sent me a really kind note that said that he went to it with his son—who was in high school—and a bunch of his friends. And it felt like it was the first time that they all realized that they loved each other. That was the best compliment the film could have received.

Seth Rogen. By Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

STONE: I felt bad for my brother, because [he] was in high school on the football team. He was probably being completely harassed with Superbad stuff.

CERA: [I] definitely began being recognized about 10,000 times more on the day it came out than the day right before that.

MINTZ-PLASSE: The day after it came out, I was a nobody; 18 years old. I had never done anything in my life. And then the next day I go to a Habit restaurant, and then someone across the way goes “MCLOVIN!” in front of, like, 40 people. Then I was like, “Oh, something is changing in the atmosphere here.”

MACISAAC: A lot of people were shouting, “I want a blowjay!!!” as you’re walking down the street. It’s like, “Okay. That’s something you could say to a person…” So that side of it was always very strange to me.

MINTZ-PLASSE: I remember the weekend after, going to Chipotle. I got recognized, and a girl would climb over my friends to try and touch me. And I would run out of the Chipotle, and all of their friends would run after me. And I’d get in the car and one of the guys put his finger through his pants and was like, “I got a boner! I got a boner!”

HADER: The minute I walked outside [the day after Superbad opened], this woman—this very New Yorker woman—just walked by and went, “You are so fucking cool.” And I was like, “Oh. Thank you.” And she was like “Superbad. I wish cops were like you.”

Just because a movie opens huge doesn’t mean it will age well. Superbad did.

ROGEN: I think it’s only in the last few years that I’ve grasped, We’re one of those high school movies that’s stood the test of time. You don’t know that that’s going to happen until years and years and years go by. Now that years and years and years have gone by, me and Evan look at each other and we’re like, We did it.

HILL: It’s still this beautiful thing. It’s so rad my nephews think it’s awesome that I’m in Superbad. Adam Sandler told me I’m his daughter’s favorite comedian because of Superbad.

STONE: There’s something so special about movies that take place in a day, like Ferris Bueller. These experiences of people in kind of a prime of their life—a day of them realizing that they’re on the precipice of adulthood. And this is their last chance to really be a wild kid, in their minds.

CERA: It's about friendship and time pulling us all in different directions, which is maybe an evergreen emotional experience.

STONE: We’ve all had our Seth or our Evan, hopefully. And if you haven’t, you should go out and find them. Because they’re out there.

MOTTOLA: It’s fun to be a part of something that’s had a cultural life. And I have to pinch myself sometimes when I realize, Oh, it really has this outlasting power.

MACISAAC: Our technology and stuff changes, but teenagers are generally the same. They’ve got a lot of the same motives and same desires. And I think having it come from the mouths of 16-year-olds—obviously it got tweaked and changed over time, but the heart of that story is the relationship with those teenagers and what they’re going through.

ROGEN: I think it was when I started to hear McLovin in rap songs is when I was like, Oh, wow. This is a cultural thing. Things aren’t referenced in rap songs unless they are a cultural thing. You start to see McLovin T-shirts at fucking Urban Outfitters and stuff.

ROBERTSON: I get all these calls when it’s fake ID McLovin’s birthday. I get emails from all over: “It’s McLovin’s birthday! Happy birthday!”

MINTZ-PLASSE: Everyone thinks that they’re the first one to think of like, “Do you have the other ID?” And you can only fake laugh so many times before you’re just lying to yourself.

STONE: I wondered, “Is Chris Mintz-Plasse going to be called McLovin for the rest of his life?” I still wonder that.

MINTZ-PLASSE: Young me would’ve been so annoyed with all that. Because there was a really good four-year period where I had that screamed at me everywhere I went. And it was pretty draining. Especially as a 20-year-old, who is trying to figure out who the fuck I am. My brain is still developing and trying to figure out my career path.

HADER: I pick up my daughter from 6th grade. And I go, and I’m waiting in the car, and she’s talking to a friend. And this friend is a 6th grader, and he’s got the T-shirt with McLovin’s fake ID on it. She walks up and is like, “Oh, hey, Dad.” And he doesn’t recognize me at all. [Laughs]

ROGEN: What’s horrifying is a comment I get a lot where cops come up to me and say, “I became a cop because of Superbad.” That has been said to me on numerous occasions. And when they say that to me, I say, “That is fucked up. You did not understand the movie.”

HILL: When I hear my dad and his friends talk about college, I think that’s how my kids are gonna hear me and Michael talk about making Superbad. Like, “The good ol’ days. We were crazy! It was awesome!” It really does feel like that.

GOLDBERG: We are all still friends. Like anything that’s good, it stood the test of time not just in the product, but in the team.

APATOW: It’s a great movie because you can always tell young people, “Hey, Seth and Evan started writing this movie when they were 13. It’s never too early to start trying to bang out a script.” They always believed in it. And they never lost hope.

ROGEN: It’s harder than it’s ever been for a movie to do this, to take its place in culture. I don’t know how many $20 million R-rated comedies that pretty much are starring nobody famous are going to do that again.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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This post originally appeared on Vanity Fair and was published August 17, 2022. This article is republished here with permission.

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