Seth Rogen says bad reviews really hurt: ‘It’s devastating’

Seth Rogen has gotten plenty of good reviews throughout his career – a look at his Rotten Tomatoes page shows a lot more red (good) than bad (green) – but the bad ones really sting. During a recent appearance on the “Diary of a CEO” podcast, the multi-hyphenate creator opened up about self-doubt and how negative press affects him and other creative people. He said that he experiences self-doubt when “a cultural institution tells everyone that I suck.” Asked by host Steven Bartlett if that kind of criticism hurts, Rogen replied, “Oh yeah! Of course. It hurts everyone. Yes. Very much so.” 

“I think if most critics knew how much it hurt the people that made the things that they are writing about, they would second guess the way they write these things,” Rogen continued. “It’s devastating. I know people who never recover from it, honestly. Years, decades of being hurt by [negative reviews]. Because it’s very personal…and so it is devastating when you are being institutionally told that your personal expression was bad. That is, like, devastating. That’s something that people carry with them, literally, their entire lives. And I get why. It f—ing sucks.” 

Rogen recalled getting bad reviews for his 2011 superhero comedy “The Green Hornet” and being disappointed that critics seemed to be “taking joy in disliking it a lot,” but he was able to find solace in the movie’s financial success. “It did pretty well,” he said. “That’s what’s nice sometimes. You can grasp for some sense of success at times.” 

Rogen said that “The Green Hornet” was such a big production that he was able to not take its reception so personally, but the critical failure of the controversial comedy “The Interview” – which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in – was “more painful, in terms of people taking joy in talking s— about it” and really kind of questioning “the types of people that would want to make a movie like that in general. That felt far more personal.” 

Rogen added that he knows that on the grand scale of problems, a negative review is not that bad, and he has gotten better at dealing with them as he’s gotten older. But harsh reviews still feel like “a very personal rejection” and don’t “feel constructive.” He deals with them by going out to dinner or watching movies to take his mind off it, or by sitting there feeling “pissed and devastated.” 

“I’ve had different approaches,” he said with a laugh. 

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