The Hollywood actor, writer and producer guest hosted the sketch show in 2014, where he quipped that he had had successfully bagged a date with his Pineapple Express and Disaster Artist co-star while posing as an underage girl on Instagram.
Reading from a journal in his opening monologue, Rogen said: “To make myself feel better I decided to prank James Franco. I posed as a girl on Instagram, told him I was way young. He seemed unfazed. I have a date to meet him at the Ace Hotel.:
The joke was a reference to the then recent revelation that Franco had been messaging a 17-year-old girl on social media. In messages leaked online, Franco had asked whether she had a boyfriend and if she would like to meet up.
Recalling the joke in a new interview with the Sunday Times’ Culture magazine, Rogen said: “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.”
Addressing the controversy at the time, Franco said: “It’s the way that people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned – I guess because I’m new to it – is you don’t know who’s on the other end. You don’t know who you’re talking to. I used bad judgement and I learned my lesson.”
Franco has since been faced accusations of sexual misconduct. In 2019, actors Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed a lawsuit alleging that the actor had intimidated students at Studio 4, the since-closed acting and film school he founded, into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations.
The suit alleged that Franco “sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education” with the promise of potential roles in his films for those who took part.
A deal was reached in February 2021, with both Tither-Kaplan and Gaal agreeing to drop their individual claims under the agreement. However, elements of the lawsuit may live on in the future.
Legal representatives for Franco originally responded to the misconduct claims, calling them “false and inflammatory”.
Addressing how the allegations have affected his friendship with Franco, Rogen said:“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.
“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.”
Rogen, who is promoting a new book titled Yearbook, revealed he has no current plans to work with Franco, with whom he has frequently collaborated, again.
“I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic,” Rogen said.