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Toronto Flashback: Seth Rogen Balanced Emotion With Laughs in ’50/50′

On Seth Rogen’s first trip to TIFF, he supported a pair of films, including one with a challenging goal: cracking jokes about cancer.

In 2011, the Vancouver native made his way to Toronto for the premieres of Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz — which focused on marital challenges for Rogen and onscreen wife Michelle Williams — and Jonathan Levine’s 50/50. The latter was loosely based on the real-life experiences of screenwriter Will Reiser and followed a radio personality played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who gets diagnosed with spinal cancer (the film’s title references the survival rate). Rogen was a producer and played Gordon-Levitt’s supportive best friend alongside co-stars Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston.

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One pivotal scene involved shaving Gordon-Levitt’s head, which the team had one chance to nail. “It was the first day of filming, and we improvised the whole thing, which is not wise when it’s something you have one take for, but it turned out funny,” Rogen recalled at the New York premiere. THR’s review praised the film as “touching and funny” and singled out Rogen’s “humorous counterbalance” to heavier themes.

Rogen returns to TIFF this year with another fact-based movie, Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, featuring an ensemble cast that includes Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera and Shailene Woodley. The Sony Pictures film tells the story of a group of unconventional investors who upended Wall Street predictions by turning video game store GameStop into a hot trading commodity.

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