The actor, who has largely remained silent on the issue, discussed the relationship with his “Pineapple Express” and “Disaster Artist” co-star in a recent interview with The Sunday Times. Franco was outed in 2014 for trying to pick up a 17-year-old fan via Instagram DM, and was the subject of a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed by two former students at his now-defunct acting school. Five women, including the two who filed the suit, accused him in 2018 of inappropriate and sexually exploitative behavior on set.
“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.”
While hosting “Saturday Night Live” in 2014, Rogen joked that he posed as a young girl on Instagram to prank Franco into a meet-up.
In 2018, when asked if he would continue to work with Franco after five women came forward, Rogen said that as “a dude” and as Franco’s friend, his perspective was not relevant. He said he would continue to work with him.
“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 told the Times.
Asked if it had impacted their friendship, he said it had but wasn’t able to say if the personal relationship was over.
“I don’t know if I can define that right now during this interview. I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic,” he said.
While losing that was painful, it was “not as painful and difficult as it is for a lot of other people involved,” he said. “I have no pity for myself in this situation.”
A settlement was reached in February in the lawsuit, which alleged that Franco intimidated students at the acting and film school he founded, Studio 4, and pushed them into performing extremely explicit sex scenes on camera. Actors Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal agreed to drop their individual claims, though elements of the lawsuit may live on. Franco’s lawyers have denied the allegations.