Movies | May 10, 2021 12:01 pm

Seth Rogen Is Done With James Franco. Will Other Men Follow Suit?

Rogen announced that he will no longer work with Franco due to sexual misconduct allegations

Seth Rogen and James Franco
Seth Rogen and James Franco attend AFI FEST 2017 at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 12, 2017 in Hollywood, California.
Getty Images

Allegations of sexual misconduct have followed James Franco for years now, but the actor has largely remained in the public eye, unharmed by the claims. But in a new interview with The Sunday Times, Franco’s longtime friend and collaborator Seth Rogen has said he has no plans to continue working with him.

Rogen also apologized for a 2014 Saturday Night Live appearance in which he made light of the allegation by a 17-year-old girl who claimed Franco had direct-messaged her on Instagram asking her to meet up.

“I decided to prank James Franco,” Rogen said during the SNL monologue. “I posed as a girl on Instagram, told him I was way young. He seemed unfazed. I have a date to meet him at the Ace Hotel.”

“What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that,” Rogen told the Times. “However, I do look back at a joke I made on Saturday Night Live in 2014 and I very much regret making that joke. It was a terrible joke, honestly.”

Rogen stuck by Franco in the wake of that 2014 allegation, and after five women — several of whom were his acting students — accused Franco of sexual misconduct in 2018, Rogen insisted in several interviews that he would continue to work with his Pineapple Express co-star. (Those 2018 accusations eventually turned into a lawsuit against Franco, and a settlement was reached in February.) Now, however, Rogen is changing his tune.

“I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now,” Rogen said, adding that it’s “not a coincidence” that he hasn’t worked with Franco in recent years. He also hinted that the allegations have affected their friendship, which dates all the way back to 1999, when the pair starred together on Freaks and Geeks.

“I don’t know if I can define that right now during this interview,” Rogen said about their friendship. “I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic.” After the Times reporter commented that it “must have been painful,” Rogen responded, “Yeah. But not as painful and difficult as it is for a lot of other people involved. I have no pity for myself in this situation.”

Rogen has arguably taken too long to reach the conclusions about Franco that he did, and we can question the timing of the admission (actress Charlyne Yi publicly called out Rogen on Instagram last month for “enabling” Franco). But ultimately he is to be commended for holding his friend accountable, something that happens far too infrequently not just in Hollywood, but in heterosexual male culture at large. (Although, to be clear, Franco has denied the allegations against him, and Rogen has not gone so far as to say point-blank that he believes them to be true.)

It’s easy to brush off allegations against someone you’ve known and loved for 20 years because of course you don’t want them to be true — especially when that friendship has also become highly lucrative. For Rogen to place the voices and concerns of women over both the fiscal upside and potential personal fallout of doing so is a statement, and more men — in Hollywood as well as in everyday life — should follow his lead.

Since the Me Too movement began, men have often asked, “What can I be doing to help change the environment that engenders sexual assault in this country?” Right at the top of that list is exactly this: Stop condoning the toxic behaviors of your friends. Calling out your friends and holding them accountable for their predatory behavior is hard, but it’s absolutely necessary if we’re ever going to live in a world where sexual harassment and assault aren’t so painfully prevalent. If Seth Rogen can cut ties with James Franco, surely you can find the courage to say something to your buddy when he starts getting too handsy at a party.