Seth Rogen has regrets about the homophobic comedy he did a decade ago


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Seth Rogen covers the latest issue of GQ, the Summer Reads Issue. I genuinely like Seth as a person and actor, and I recognize that he’s not the man-child stoner he usually plays in movies. That being said, this GQ profile annoyed me a few times. It’s not that Seth comes across as bad or anything, it’s just a general vibe of “Seth Rogen is an amazing, successful person because he works hard!” Yeah, he works hard… because he’s been given a million opportunities, even when he has some big flop like The Green Hornet. Come back to me when a woman of color gets consistent $35 million financing for every one of her movies after she’s cost the studio $200 million with a box office disaster, you know? That’s not ON Seth, it’s just the way Hollywood operates. But I find the premise of “Seth Rogen just keeps on keeping on” to be annoying without the context of “no woman would be allowed to do this.” You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

He’s not really the lazy Millennial he plays on-screen: “I really always worked hard, because I recognized from a pretty young age it was one of the only things I could control,” Rogen says. He attributes his success to ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ He compares it to karate lessons as a child. Over the course of a few years, he went from being the worst in the class to the best in the class, solely by not quitting. “Just by not stopping I became the best one. It wasn’t this like, ferocious leap. I just kept going, and slowly [other] people stopped. Because a lot of people will stop.”

He worked hard to come back from The Green Hornet. “I get uncomfortable when I’m involved in something but I don’t control it from the beginning to the end,” he says. The flop was a learning experience. Afterwards, Rogen made the decision to stick to movies with budgets of $20-35 million so that higher ups would focus on more expensive projects instead. “You just keep working. With the hope that in general I will produce more good work than bad work, and that will hopefully carry me onwards.”

He’s aware of the shelf-life of his fratty movies: “Evan [Goldberg, his creative partner] recently was like, ‘By the time my kids are grown, all our work will be deemed unwatchable.”

The culture shifting rapidly: He recalls fans’ disappointment with some of his lines, like the ‘How I know you’re gay’ refrain from The 40 Year Old Virgin. “I’ve had people come up to me and be like, ‘That made me feel like sh-t when I was in the movie theater and everyone was laughing about that.’ I don’t want anyone to have that experience watching our movies.”

He finds inspiration in Kanye West: “It is a fine line…I remember the truth is at first, people were like, ‘Why you making shoes, man? Just make music.’ And his shoes are great. People love them…So there is something to be said for staying in your lane, but sometimes people do really great outside of their lane. So it’s something that I look at with myself: How much do you expand? How much do you try new things? How much do you spread your wings, or how much do you stay in your lane? It’s a constant modulation.”

What it’s like to promote a movie he doesn’t believe in: “I remember You, Me and Dupree was the first time I had to do that, and that movie’s fine, I just didn’t love it. It honestly was not a movie I would have gone out to go see.… It’s okay, the Russo brothers did fine. I actually remember standing in my f–king closet in my apartment on Hayworth, doing a radio interview, being like, ‘Yeah, go see it, it’s great,’ and being like, Ugh. Never again do I want to have to tell people to go see a movie that I myself actually wouldn’t see. It’s hard enough to promote a movie. When you’re also morally corrupting yourself, it’s a real bummer.”

[From GQ]

Again, it’s about who in Hollywood is allowed to have artistic integrity and who is given the space to fail and come back from failure. Seth Rogen likes to have control of his projects and he’s learned how to “stay in his lane” with mid-level comedies. That helps him and it’s one of the reasons why he’s so successful, in addition to his work ethic, etc. But there are tons of people with a similar work ethic who aren’t given the same opportunities, I’m just sayin’.

Seth Rogen press image

Photos courtesy of Sebastian Mader for GQ, sent from promotional GQ email.

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39 Responses to “Seth Rogen has regrets about the homophobic comedy he did a decade ago”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    Ugh, I hate the line of “I work hard so I am successful.” Obviously, hard work is (or should be) a part of being successful, but lots of people work hard and aren’t successful.

    I have never been a big fan of his so I’m just kind of meh at this interview.

    • perplexed says:

      I think he was simply saying that he’s different from the person he plays onscreen and working hard was something in his control, which I think is different from simply saying one works hard full stop. He’s right — working hard is a variable that is within his control.

  2. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’ll just say it then, I’ve never liked him. I watched one movie he was in, and I was done. I’m glad he has his fan base, but I ain’t it lol.

    • Godwina says:

      It’s just that I know SO MANY DUDES who look, sound and act like him in Canada that there’s no there there for me. They generally come packaged with a whiff of chauvinism no matter what they might say about progress. Not my favourite folks.

    • Jag says:

      Same here for just not ever liking him.

      And I hate those pants. I remember when men had to look good to be on the cover of GQ. Couldn’t they have at least had a tailor take care of them? Sheesh.

  3. boredblond says:

    I saw him with Colbert recently and he seemed to be exactly like his stoner/slacker character..a lot of his giggly rhetoric was about being permanently stoned. I always find it interesting that some people get a pass for sexist/homophobic/racist comments of the past..and some don’t..just musing..

    • tealily says:

      I have no horse in this race (not sure I’ve ever even seen one his movies and I’m not gay), but maybe the difference is that what he’s referring to was a line in the movie and not an actual comment that he made. It was written by someone else.

      That said, I’d like to think I would have declined to say that particular line if I was in his situation. At least he acknowledges that he understands it was sh-tty and made people feel bad.

    • Mario says:

      Mmm

    • Mario says:

      +1000

  4. Rainy Red Carpet says:

    There was no excuse for being homophobic in 2009. He’s cancelled.

    • Aims says:

      Agreed. You can be funny without being hateful.

    • JoJo says:

      Years ago I didn’t know certain terms were offensive like Oriental to describe Asian people,Tranny to describe Transwoman,I didn’t know gyped or Gypsy was offensive.Now I know longer use that term,members of those communities educated me.I apologized for offending them and I inform others.When you know better you hopefully do better.People evolve

    • Lindsay says:

      Better Cancel Paul Rudd too, since he was in the back and forth argument with Seth Rogen in that movie.

  5. LORENA says:

    I love a good stoner movie and he has some of the best

  6. Anna says:

    Really? Is no one going to talk about the fact that he’s astonishingly hot in this spread? Because Twitter is working itself up into a fever over this.

    • olive says:

      i don’t see it. he’s too juvenile for me to find attractive after all the dumb stoner movies.

    • Skwinkee says:

      I will get on that train with ya Anna!

    • jen says:

      astonishingly hot lol! to each their own, i’ll take a hard pass.

      • pinetree13 says:

        He’s well dressed but hot?! I see hotter guys at the super market on the regular. He isn’t conventionally attractive but that’s okay. His appeal is in his personality.

    • Usedtobe says:

      Thank you Anna. Was looking for this. Yes, what the hell happened. He looks gooodddd!

  7. Jack says:

    So it’s okay for him to not want to promote a movie, but he got all pissy because Kathryn Heigl hated pomoting Knocked Up and was embarrassed by that movie, which was a piece of misogynistic crap

    • Jadedone says:

      I didn’t find it misogynistic, in fact I thought it showed women as mature and men as juvenile

      • Originaltessa says:

        Honestly, I never understood what her big beef was with the movie. The women were portrayed so much better than the men. And her character was portrayed as successful, smart, attractive, capable… At a certain point a movie is just a movie. Knocked Up is pretty funny, imo, and hardly the most sexist thing out there.

      • pinetree13 says:

        OH it’s a sexist movie for sure. I saw it again a few years back and it has not aged well. Plus the “mature woman, goofy/bungling dad” is a super old trope and not one that that is helpful to women.

      • Alissa says:

        honestly I think it was less about her character than Leslie Mann’s character, who did come across as shrill and not fun.

  8. elimaeby says:

    I’m just here for that puppy on the cover!!!

  9. Mei says:

    None of that actually seems like he regrets doing the movie, it’s always the same kind of non-apology ‘well it’s a shame people felt bad watching it boo hoo’ rather than ‘I am disappointed in myself for not realising at the time that it was a bad role/script/line(s) and I am truly sorry that it made people feel upset in any way. I no longer hold such uneducated and hurtful views of others in our society – I now hold myself and future works I am privileged to be involved with to a higher degree of responsibility in how we portray characters of any gender/sexuality/race/under-represented group of our collective society.’. Is it difficult for people to understand? :/

  10. Alex says:

    It’s not so much regret so much as it’s less “passable” now (it was never acceptable, don’t intuit that) but he did say those things and that’s disappointing. I live in NYC and went to the Adam Driver play Burn This and his character (who’s kind of sh-tty) is in this long, somewhat serious monologue so the theater is dead silent and in the middle he uses a homophobic slur. It was incredibly uncomfortable to hear a handful of people laugh very loudly at just the use of the slur as the rest of the theater was silent. I saw the play twice actually and it happened both times. Here I was thinking we were making progress.

    • Soapboxpudding says:

      We are making progress. A decade ago a much larger portion of that audience would have laughed. People are not robots, we are complicated and changing habits takes time. And yes, a lot of racism and ignorance are cultural habits. Which is actually good because they can be changed . For example, I said ‘retarded’ up until about 2010. My whole family used he r-word like NBD even tho my uncle has Down’s syndrome. We went to the Special Olympics with him, we volunteered for his groups, we love him but we still used the r-word. I have no idea why except that I heard the adults around him use it so I did too, it wasn’t malicious but ignorant. Side note – they also used to use the outdated medical term ‘mongoloid’ for him 🤦🏻‍♀️. Then I met some new friends, one of whom also had an uncle with Downs and he was not okay with the r-word. We had a few chats and I chose to stop using it out of consideration for everyone. But it took time to break the habit. I’ve spent the last decade trying to increase awareness in my family of how damaging that word is. Along with the n-word. And I’ll save you the time and say that yes some of my family is garbage but some of them are just ignorant and yelling at them or canceling them isn’t going to change their mind, which is the only way we will have meaningful social change. Should I also be cancelled because I used to say the r word and make insensitive jokes about my own uncle? Does it not matter that I learned it was wrong and changed my behaviour and grew to be a more considerate person who is also trying to model that behaviour to others?

    • jen says:

      Sometimes people laugh when they are uncomfortable, you can’t judge a handful of people you don’t know based on this.

  11. Molly says:

    I don’t have nearly as much of a problem with white guys in flop movies getting second and third chances as I do with the Johnny Depps and Mel Gibsons of the world still getting big franchise money.

  12. Alissa says:

    I mean, Green Hornet was a flop but his projects are typically successful and do well, and by all accounts he’s a good person to work with, so I’m fine with him getting a couple shots. and personally, as a woman, I get tired of the “this wouldn’t happen if it was a woman!” comments all the time. sometimes it’s warranted, but I don’t think Seth is a great example.

    also I still think 40 Year Old Virgin and Superbad and Knocked Up are hilarious, so 🤷

  13. Alice says:

    The hem of those pants coupled with the shoes are ridiculous.

  14. Teel says:

    Ugh. Everything about this guy has always grated. I can’t even stand the sound of his voice.

  15. kerwood says:

    There’s such a huge double-standard here. Kevin Hart’s career has come to a standstill while Seth Rogan gets a pass because he’s such a hard-worker? It happens ALL THE TIME. A Black man says something offensive and he’s stripped of his career and thrown out into the streets. Eddie Murphy is still attacked for what he said in ‘Raw’. A White man says the EXACT SAME THING and the excuses start rolling. All Andrew Dice Clay had to do was star in a movie with Lady Gaga and all was forgiven.

    Seth Rogan has been in a number of dreadful movies. Nobody liked Katherine Heigl so she took the brunt of the blame for that horrible movie they BOTH were in.

    I’m curious to see just what Johnny Depp is going to have to do to be welcome back with open arms.