Warning: This post contains discussion of predatory behavior.
Update, May 10th, 2021: Seth Rogen has no plans to work with his one-time friend James Franco in the near future. In an interview with the U.K.'s Sunday Times, Rogen was asked to respond to April allegations made by The Disaster Artist actor Charlyne Yi, who claimed Rogen enabled Franco's predatory behavior, and Rogen regrets taking part in Franco's misconduct by joking about it and making light of the situation.
"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.
He also told The Times that he regrets taking part in a 2014 Saturday Night Live sketch in which the butt of the joke was Franco's predatory behavior toward underage girls. "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."
He continued, "And 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."
Franco first faced abuse and misconduct allegations in 2014, which seemingly didn't deter the public from supporting him. In 2018, however, five women came forward and alleged Franco abused his power via sexual exploitation. In an April text post, Yi claimed she tried to get out of her role in Franco and Rogen's Disaster Artist film but was bullied to stay in her contract.
Though Rogen did not specifically comment on Yi's post, nor did he issue a direct apology, he said that the onslaught of allegations against Franco "has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic." However, Rogen notes that his loss of a friendship cannot compare to the "painful and difficult" experiences others have had with Franco. "I have no pity for myself in this situation," Rogen told The Times.
Original Story, April 12th, 2021: Actor and author Charlyne Yi opened up about her experience working with James Franco and Seth Rogen on 2017's The Disaster Artist in an April 9th Instagram post, detailing the behavior that made her want to quit the film and the manipulation Franco and Rogen used to keep her in her contract.
"When I tried to break legal contract & quit Disaster Artist because James Franco is a sexual predator, they tried to bribe me with a bigger acting role. I cried and told them that that was the exact opposite of what I wanted, that I didn't feel safe working with a fucking sexual predator," Yi wrote in her text post. "They minimized & said Franco being a predator was so last yr and that he changed…when I literally heard of him abusing new women that week."
She continued, "Predators will perform empathy, gaslight, & say they will do better—all in order to protect themselves and continue to harm others. Enablers are just as toxic and are abusers too. Disgusted by white men choosing power over protecting children and women from predators."
"White men saying it's not their responsibility when holding Franco accountable, or when holding Seth Rogen and enablers accountable," Yi added, asking, "Then whose responsibility is it? The women and children who have PTSD from Franco? Or the future targets of abuse?"
In the caption of her post, Yi called out Rogen in particular for being the biggest enabler of Franco's misconduct. "Seth Rogen was one of the producers on this film so he definitely knows about the bribe and why I quit," Yi wrote, noting that denying actions and gaslighting are tactics of "psychological violence" used by both abusers and enablers. "The survivor loses sense of reality/intuition to protect self from targeted again, PTSD, suicidal thoughts/suicide, etc."
Yi notes that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, however the "awareness" message should be shifted to "education"—"[Men should] learn how to be there & protect women, nonbinary, trans, etc...who are targeted."
Though allegations of Franco's misconduct date back nearly a decade, a 2018 Los Angeles Times report documented five women who claimed to have had inappropriate and/or sexually exploitative experiences with the actor—four of whom attended his acting program, and another was a mentee of his. Two of Franco's accusers filed lawsuits, which were settled earlier this year.
But according to Yi, calling out the abuser is only addressing part of the problem. The enablers are just as guilty for the trauma survivors now carry with them. In the caption of a prior Instagram post, Yi wrote, "It's a ladder of white males absolving accountability when it comes to protecting their corrupt relationship with power OVER protecting children and women from *sexual predators.*"
"This is performative allyship," she continued. "Sexual assault awareness, educating, & organizing to fight against oppressive ppl & systems is a life commitment."
We commend Yi for coming forward with her story and sharing her heartbreaking experience. As Yi wrote in her April 8th post, we're all "waiting for men (esp white men) to show up and do the work."