In a series of recent interviews, actor and filmmaker Seth Rogen has reflected on the controversy surrounding his 2014 film “The Interview” and its lasting impact on Hollywood.
Rogen shared insights on the decision to depict North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un in the movie, as well as the “catastrophic” fallout that ensued.
Despite the initial challenges, Rogen and his colleagues continued making movies, and “The Interview” has since become a staple on television, showcasing the resilience of art and freedom of speech in the face of adversity.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg Defend Depicting Kim Jong-un in ‘The Interview’
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Seth Rogen and his production partner, Evan Goldberg, discussed the decision to portray North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un in their controversial film, “The Interview.”
Despite support from Sony Pictures executives Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, Rogen and Goldberg sought outside opinions on their original script, initially titled “Kill Kim Jong Un.”
They consulted with fellow comedians and actors, including Jonah Hill and Sacha Baron Cohen, to determine whether to name the film’s dictator after the real-life North Korean leader.
The consensus among their peers was that using Kim Jong-un’s name would make the movie funnier and more engaging. Rogen and Goldberg felt that censoring the dictator’s portrayal would be inappropriate.
They compared the situation to avoiding making fun of Hitler for fear of angering him, arguing that this fear is what empowers such leaders.
Rogen and Goldberg were caught off guard when Sony decided to pull “The Interview” from its Christmas release due to threats from hackers. They described the decision as a “rash” response based on fear, and one that aligned with the criminals’ wishes.
Despite the initial setback, the filmmakers were determined to make the movie accessible to theaters that wanted to screen it. They believed it was crucial to make a statement in support of their film and freedom of speech.
The pair credited President Obama’s public disapproval of the movie’s removal for providing Sony with the momentum to ultimately release the film.
Seth Rogen Reflects on the Controversy and Lasting Impact of ‘The Interview’
Text: Nearly a decade after the release of “The Interview,” Seth Rogen has opened up about the controversial film’s “catastrophic” fallout and how it affected Hollywood.
In a recent episode of the Hawk vs. Wolf podcast, Rogen discussed the movie’s far-reaching consequences, which included the firing of Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal and significant shifts in the way business was conducted in the industry.
“The Interview,” a 2014 comedy, starred James Franco as a talk show host sent to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. The CIA then recruits Franco’s character and his TV producer, portrayed by Rogen, to assassinate the North Korean leader.
The film’s wide release was canceled after North Korean officials declared it an “act of war” and a North Korean-based hacker group, Guardians of Peace, launched the notorious Sony email hack. Digital threats of a 9/11-style attack were also issued prior to the film’s New York premiere.
Despite the initial uproar, “The Interview” was eventually acquired by Netflix and began streaming a month after its planned theatrical release. Rogen noted that the film demonstrated the potential success of a movie that underwent a full theatrical campaign before transitioning to streaming. “It streamed on Google and I think it’s still the biggest movie that’s ever streamed on Google, which is crazy,” Rogen said.
The experience had a profound impact on Rogen’s perspective on controversy. He now believes that unless a film incites news conferences by the president or statements from the U.N., it doesn’t qualify as truly controversial. Social media outrage, he argues, doesn’t compare.
Fortunately, the fallout from “The Interview” wasn’t as long-lasting as Rogen initially feared. He and his colleagues continued making movies, and “The Interview” is now regularly broadcast on television.
Reflecting on the film’s journey, Rogen described the transformation from being “the most controversial thing in the world” to a Sunday afternoon TV staple.
In a 2016 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Rogen had referred to “The Interview” as a “horrible experience.”
He recalled the personal security provided by the studio in case of assassination attempts and how, one day, the security detail abruptly disappeared. The studio, it seems, no longer wanted to cover the costs.
“The Interview” serves as a testament to the power of artistic expression and freedom of speech, even in the face of severe backlash and controversy.
As Seth Rogen and his team persevered through the challenges, their film has emerged as a symbol of resilience in the entertainment industry.
The movie’s journey from being considered a potential trigger for international conflict to a regularly broadcast TV feature demonstrates that creative freedom can ultimately prevail, despite the obstacles it may initially face.