Seth Rogen's The Fabelmans Costume Gave Him A Minor Existential Crisis

In Steven Spielberg's new semi-autobiographical film "The Fabelmans," Seth Rogen plays Benny, a character inspired by Spielberg's "favorite uncle." Benny lives with the Fabelman family and is genial, playful, and well-liked. He's certainly more charismatic than the family's stuffy patriarch, Burt (Paul Dano). The film's young protagonist, Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) is an aspiring filmmaker and idly spends a notable camping trip filming his family playing around. In so doing, Sammy captures many, many instances of Benny and his mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams) holding hands, touching intimately, clearly falling in love. The adoration between Benny and Mitzi will remain one of the film's central dramatic pivot points. 

"The Fabelmans" is set in the 1950s and 1960s — the time of Spielberg's childhood — and the filmmaker's slavish attention to period detail is admirable. Part of that attention had Spielberg designing the costumes and makeup of his cast in such a way that they resembled their real-life counterparts as closely as possible. This is clearest when looking at pictures of Leah Adler, Spielberg's actual mother, and noting that her hairstyle was nearly identical to Williams'. 

For Rogen, the visual match-up of character to actor caused a dark realization of how people saw him in real life. Part of his costume involved shaving his upper forehead. It seems the real-life "Benny " experienced a receding hairline. The sad part for Rogen was that after he did so, no one seemed to notice. 

Rogen recently appeared on "The Tonight Show" to talk to Jimmy Fallon about how what he thought was a dramatic change to his look was accepted all too readily by his friends. 

The character — THE CHARACTER — had a very receding hairline

Rogen was distressed by how well everyone took his new hairline. The actor recently turned 40 and might have been wrestling with a midlife crisis already, but shaving his hairline back seems to have kicked it off in earnest. Rogen didn't necessarily want to do it, but a filmmaker like Spielberg is too prestigious to refuse. As Rogen said:

"The character the character is based on had a very receding hairline, like pretty far back. So I went to set a few days before I started shooting, and he was like, 'I want you to cut back your hairline so it looks like you're going much more bald than you are.' I was like, 'Okay. That's a big thing for me.' But how do you say no to Steven Spielberg? So obviously I go back and I do it." 

When the act was done, Rogen was astonished at how different he looked. This was going to be a hairdo the actor would have to sport for the entirety of the shoot, something he would have to wear home at night. He would, to his eye, have to look like a much balder man. When his friends saw him, he found their lack of attention horrifying. As he said: 

"And, to me, it's very drastic. And I'm like, 'Oh, my god. It's all anyone's going to talk about.' I'm going to see everyone, and they'll be like, 'Oh my god.' And instead, I kept running into people I know and seeing them, and no one said anything. And that made me realize, like, to them, I'm balding. I was already balding! It wasn't a shift. I was already a balding guy, and I am a balding guy."

The hair will return. Rogen's next role will be voicing Donkey Kong, the video game gorilla, in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."