Seth Rogen generally seems like a pretty good dude. After building a reputation as Hollywood’s good-natured-if-slovenly freak/geek, the man has really come a long ways as an artist, showcasing genuine talent both in front of and behind the camera. Now, he’s demonstrating something else that’s even rarer in the film industry: class and contrition.
It all starts in the pages of British GQ, which has a big profile on Rogen’s career. In the middle of it, the interviewer raises the question of an old rumor from the set of This Is the End, Rogen’s meta-comedy about he and his buddies facing Armageddon together. The movie featured a bunch of cameos, one of the most instantly iconic of which was Emma Watson, who was the relatively fresh off the Harry Potter beat. The story, which has never been confirmed, goes that Watson wasn’t comfortable with a scene she was filming and left the set. We don’t know any more details about what exactly the issue was, but the movie gets pretty weird (the scene in question had Channing Tatum in a skimpy leather getup) so there are any number of valid reasons she might have had for balking. The interviewer asked if it was true.
It’s worth noting at this point that the article uses the phrase “stormed off the set” — which implies dramatic antics generally associated with Hollywood divas. Rogen responded to the interviewer honestly, acknowledging that there had been some onset conflict but noted that he and Watson patched things up and said there were “no hard feelings and I couldn’t be happier with how the film turned out in the end.”
But nevertheless, other outlets picked up on the idea that Watson had “stormed off the set” and took Rogen’s response as confirmation. Rogen responded with the old screenshot from the Notes app trick on Twitter, but his response is worth reading in full.
I want to correct a story that has emerged from a recent interview I gave. It misrepresents what actually happened. Emma Watson did not “storm off the set” and it’s s***** that the perception is that she did. The scene was not what was originally scripted, it was getting improvised, changed drastically and was not what she agreed to. The narrative that she was in some way uncool or unprofessional is complete bull****. I for sure should have communicated better and because I didn’t, she was put in an uncomfortable position. She and I spoke on the night; it was overall a s***** situation and it must have been hard for her to say something and I’m very happy and impressed that she did. We agreed on her not being in the scene together. I was thrilled for the opportunity to work with her and would be thrilled to get that opportunity again. I am very sorry and disappointed it happened, and I wish had done more to prevent it.
Let’s take a moment to analyze this statement, because it gets a lot of things right that other similar public apologies fail to do.
For one thing, it doesn’t cast blame elsewhere. There are plenty of opportunities too. Rogen could have blamed GQ for the “stormed off the set” framing, his fellow castmates for improvisation that got out of hand or Watson for not “playing along” or some such. But instead, Rogen not accepted responsibility, he defended Watson and called others out for throwing her under the bus.
And not only that, but he named exactly where he went wrong: a lack of communication. There was no “sorry if anyone’s feelings were hurt” or “sorry that she took it that way.” He named where he went wrong and showed that he understood why it had caused such a mess. That shows sincere reflection on what happened — not just an eagerness to put the whole thing behind him.
He also used the opportunity to have empathy for Watson, showing that he understood how difficult the situation must have been for her and acknowledging her own courage in enforcing her boundaries. By saying that he would love to work with her again, he undercuts any narrative that she might have been in the wrong.
And finally, an actual, literal, honest-to-goodness “sorry,” and expression of remorse.
You hear a lot of cancel culture these days, but one uncomfortable fact is that many of the guys who get “canceled” never really offer a sincere, full-throated apology along with a commitment to learn from the experience. It’s hard to say real apologies and demonstrations of growth would fully reverse the “cancel culture” trend, because there have been so few men willing to try. But Rogen shows it’s far from impossible, and he provides a decent example for others who want to learn how to do a better job in the future.