While the series is now universally hailed and nearly everyone involved with it has gone on to showbiz super-stardom, "Freaks and Geeks" was largely ignored during its single 18-episode season on NBC. Even fans of the show would never have guessed which star would become the biggest box office draw eight years later.
That would be 16-year-old Seth Rogen, who played wisecracking freak Ken Miller and saw the least screen time of any regular cast member.
Rogen's first movie appearance didn't really help his cause either. He went from playing a tough, deadpan sidekick burnout to a tough, deadpan sidekick bully in "Donnie Darko."
The role of Ricky Danforth didn't showcase the young comedian's range at all. His most-memorable line is, "I like your boobs," and is much more creepy than funny.
Luckily, Judd Apatow loved Rogen (who's now starring in the buzzworthy dramedy "50/50"), otherwise the tough guy roles may have stuck to him. The hilarious Canuck could have ended up like William Zabka (aka Johnny Lawrence from "The Karate Kid") and typecast into a bully-oblivion. The year "Donnie Darko" was released, 2001, Apatow cast Rogen in his college sitcom "Undeclared." Its one season received even less attention than "Freaks and Geeks," but it showcased the young actor in a different role and gave him his first writing credit.
In 2007, as Rogen's stardom began skyrocketing with "Knocked Up," he recalled the role in "Donnie Darko" during an interview with Collider: "It was a great experience; I didn’t get it back then, and still don’t, but had a good time … We kind of torment Jake Gyllenhaal and [Jena] Malone’s characters throughout. And then at the end, I throw Jena Malone out in the road where she gets hit by a car; it’s kind of not that big of a role."
Originally published March 20, 2011.