Seth Rogen: Film critics don’t know how much their reviews hurt actors’ feelings

Most actors say they don’t read the reviews and many of them are lying. I admire the actors who can really make the choice to not let the film criticism “noise” get to them, just as I’m irritated when actors take it way too personally when a film critic thinks a film doesn’t work for different reasons. Instead of putting on your big-girl panties and saying “sure, maybe the film isn’t being received like we hoped, but I’m still proud of the work,” there are too many actors who take every piece of film criticism like a personal attack. I didn’t think Seth Rogen was one of those guys, but here we go. Rogen was being interviewed on the Diary of a CEO podcast and he spoke in-depth about film critics:

“I think if most critics knew how much it hurts the people that made the things that they are writing about, they would second guess the way they write these things,” Rogen said. “It’s devastating. I know people who have never recovered from it honestly – a year, decades of being hurt by [film reviews]. It’s very personal…It is devastating when you are being institutionally told that your personal expression was bad, and that’s something that people carry with them, literally, their entire lives and I get why. It f–king sucks.”

Bartlett brought up Michel Gondry’s 2011 superhero comedy “The Green Hornet,” which starred Rogen as the eponymous hero opposite Jay Chou and Cameron Diaz. The film bombed with critics, earning a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave “Green Hornet” one star and called it “an almost unendurable demonstration of a movie with nothing to be about,” while The Guardian’s pan said that “almost everything about the film is disappointing.”

“For ‘Green Hornet,’ the reviews were coming out and it was pretty bad,” Rogen said. “People hated it. People were taking joy in disliking it a lot. But it opened to like $35 million, which was the biggest opening weekend I’d ever been associated with at that point. It did pretty well. That’s what is nice sometimes. You can grasp for some sense of success at times.”

Rogen said it was “more painful” to endure the negative reviews for his infamous 2014 comedy “The Interview” because “people were taking joy in talking sh-t about it and questioning the types of people that would want to make a movie like that. That felt far more personal. ‘Green Hornet’ felt like I had fallen victim to a big fancy thing. That was not so such much a creative failure on our parts but a conceptual failure. ‘The Interview,’ people treated us like we creatively failed and that sucked.”

Rogen said he used to deal with negative reviews by treating himself to a nice dinner or heading out to his beach house. He added, “Any opening weekend, it sucks. It’s stressful. It’s like birth, it’s an inherently painful process.” For Rogen, the best way to move past film critics is to just keep working.

“That’s another funny thing about making movies…life goes on,” the comedian said. “You can be making another movie as your [current] movie is bombing, which is a funny thing. It’s bittersweet. You know things will be ok. You’re already working. If the fear is the movie bombs and you wont get hired again, well you don’t have to worry about it. But it’s an emotional conundrum at times.”

[From Variety]

The Interview was the film which made North Korea so mad, they hacked into Sony’s emails and it became a huge industry scandal. Hollywood people actually made an effort to defend Rogen and the film, even though film critics were like “why is North Korea mad, this movie sucks, people weren’t even going to watch it.” North Korea Streisand-effected that dumb movie.

As for the larger points being made about Rogen… the thing is, we aren’t dealing with Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael anymore. We’re in the age of a more democratized approach to film criticism, which means that… yes, some blogger film critic has the same “weight” as the LA Times’ film critic. It means that people are meaner or they’re going to be more provocative in what they write. What bugs me isn’t the idea that “film criticism hurts actors’ feelings,” it’s that there are now wide swaths of the film industry which are critic-proof – it doesn’t matter how repetitive, how garbage, how cheap-CGI, vapid-storytelling, poorly-lit nonsense you put on screen, the tribalism of the comic-book fans will fall over themselves to praise it… and barrage good-faith film critics with hate.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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13 Responses to “Seth Rogen: Film critics don’t know how much their reviews hurt actors’ feelings”

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  1. Dutch says:

    Welcome to the world of work, Seth. Nobody likes a bad performance review, especially when it’s not necessarily their fault.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Yup. And even though my husband can’t stand critics, I kinda thrive on them lol. If I read enough reviews, I pretty much know if I’ll like it or not even if it’s panned. The trick is reading regular Joe Schmo’s review as well as a ‘professional critic’ lol. Poor Seth. He’s being criticized.

  2. HeyKay says:

    The very nature of professional acting, dancing, pro sports, requires a pretty tough skin, IMO.
    Rejection, auditioning, critics, filling a theater, box office sales, living in the public eye, doing PR and interviews for every project, constantly being polite dealing with fans, stalkers, agents, security, endless ways of being ripped off if you are successful, on and on.

    And you always have a shelf life, and new/younger guns coming up.
    I really am interested in the skill, drive, physical endurance and injuries plus endless years that professional dancers invest in their careers. Amazing, and it certainly takes a toll on their bodies. Watch high level ballet dancers, Unbelievable skills!

    I do agree that critics have become harsher in every area bc “mean gets attention” and yes, SM/influencer garbage gives any idiot w/net connections a say.

  3. Eurydice says:

    Yes, it would be better if he were more clear about what “film critic” means. If he means the world of Roger Ebert, then those critics know quite well how hurtful their words can be and they’ll tell you art criticism is a profession with responsibilities to the public, blah, blah. If he means Rotten Tomatoes, those are just people posting about movies.

    Being a life-long comic book girl nerd, I’ll only say that what matters in a franchise movie isn’t if it’s any good. What matters is if it adds to the conversation about the franchise universe.

    • Dutch says:

      There is a bit about contemporary TV/film criticism that does annoy me. I don’t know if it’s part of the hot-take culture or what, but far too many critics judge a work on how closely it comes to what they wanted the work to be vs. the work on its own merits.

      It’s especially bad with franchise entertainment and TV with multiple seasons. “If things don’t unfold according to my favorite fan theory, then it’s garbage.” Reading reviews like that infuriate me.

      • BeyondTheFringe says:


        I wish I could upvote/like it 1000 times.

      • Eurydice says:

        Oh yes, those are the fan-based reviews that criticize the storyline or the arc of their favorite character. It’s so aggravating because it has nothing to do with the movie itself as a piece of filmmaking. At the same time, if you’ve grown up with these characters, they become like your imaginary friends. And it’s kind of like the way people get possessive about celebrities – like Taylor Swift fans think they have the right to say who she should date. As far as those fans are concerned, TS might as well be imaginary.

  4. KS says:

    Maybe Seth can take a break from his pity party to spare a thought for the people who can’t afford to just retreat to their private beach houses whenever they suffer a professional disappointment.

  5. Kirsten says:

    I think he does start to make a distinction between a genuine critique and people just shit-talking something for the sake of it. I get why the later would be hurtful. You can definitely talk/write critically about why something doesn’t work without being mean-spirited about it.

  6. j.ferber says:

    Kirsten, that’s true. But I’d imagine you’d have to grow a thicker skin about that. Truly any job you do will get you praise or blame. He’s in the upper echelons of the jobs/professions. I think it’s always good to analyze critiques and decide if there is something you can gain/use to become better.

  7. Deering24 says:

    Ehehehe. He ought to thank his lucky stars he became a star when Pauline Kael was no longer around. She was not one to take this whiny-ass “oh, all criticism is evil and hurtful” crap lightly.

  8. Rackel says:

    This is my problem with people like Seth. They seem to forget that people spend their hard earned money on entertainment. These producers and studios lie on/in the trailers. You pay for an action movie but you get a rom-com. That’s not fair. You aren’t entitled to my money or time.

  9. kirk says:

    Boo hoo booby. Crying about criticism after you made movie profiting off victimized Pamela Anderson. Did you share any of ‘Pam & Tommy’ proceeds with her? Lemme guess.

    Get over your misogynistic self you idiot a–hole and consider the wisdom of Hillary Clinton: “Take criticism seriously, not personally.”