The Interview – Official Teaser Trailer (2014) James Franco, Seth Rogen [HD]
By Don Steinberg
Nov. 26, 2014 12:04 p.m. ET
Clowns behind enemy lines have always helped us fear evil empires a little bit less. Charlie Chaplin mocked the Nazis in the “The Great Dictator” (1940) and Jack Benny did, too, in “To Be or Not to Be” (1942). Bill Murray and Harold Ramis made mayhem behind the Iron Curtain in “Stripes” (1981). Now James Franco and Seth Rogen infiltrate North Korea and parody its leader Kim Jong Un in “The Interview.”
“For decades, people have used humor to enlighten political situations,” says Mr. Rogen, who also co-wrote and co-directed the movie with his longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg. “I would say that was probably our fourth priority while making this movie.”
The movie, by design, is ridiculous. Mr. Franco plays the pompous host of a tabloid TV show. Mr. Rogen is his producer who longs to cover real news. They read online that Mr. Kim is a fan of their dumb show and somehow arrange to interview him in Pyongyang (they actually filmed in Vancouver). The CIA asks them to use the access to assassinate him. Randall Park, who plays Governor Danny Chung on the TV series “Veep,” turns Mr. Kim into a likable, in-over-his-head maniac.
Franco and Seth Rogen in a scene from ‘The Interview’ Columbia Pictures
Writing the script, “we went for like a year without knowing what country to go after,” Mr. Goldberg says. The more they researched North Korea, the more potential for comedy gold (and butt jokes) they unearthed about the young leader Kim Jong Un and the odd beliefs citizens supposedly have about him.
“The fact that they think he doesn’t urinate or defecate, that was a big running joke for us,” Mr. Rogen says. “Everything we used to texture the character was based on real life—the fact his father feared that his love of Western culture was making him effeminate.”
Choosing political targets can be tricky for filmmakers, especially in these days when international box-office receipts can be the difference between a movie’s profit or loss. Comedies don’t cross borders easily, and what does work globally can seem random, Mr. Rogen says.
For instance, “Neighbors,” which Mr. Rogen starred in, did well internationally, even though college fraternities are uniquely American, he noted. Meanwhile ‘This is the End’ did poorly internationally, even though, as Mr. Rogen says, “they have the apocalypse everywhere.”
“We actually spend a lot of time thinking about the business side, and it is bizarre,” he says.
Un is still angry about this video someone recently made. It stars The Un (plus his dad and granddad), O’Bomba, Osama Bin Laden, Putin, and a couple of others.
“Last month North Korea reacted furiously to reports that Hollywood is to release a comedy movie about journalists sent to kill the North Korean leader starring Seth Rogan and James Franco.”
Kim Jong-un Impersonator Wanders Hong Kong Streets
The first video was made in China (see above), and became popular on the Chinese Internet – surprised it wasn’t censored by the Chinese regime – says a lot.