In 2014, Sony Pictures planned for the comedy The Interview to be one of their major releases during the holiday movie season. The film starred Seth Rogen and James Franco as celebrity journalists Aaron Rapaport and Dave Skylark, who land an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (a big fan of their show). After agreeing to meet Jong-un, Rapaport and Skylark are contacted by the CIA, where they are given a new assignment: assassinate their interview subject while on the job. The high concept was meant to be a silly, raunchy affair, but the laughs didn’t translate very well across the globe and the premise struck a nerve with some people who thought the film was a declaration of war.
Today, The Interview is more famous for the tremendous controversy it caused than the actual movie (read our review). As its premiere drew closer, there were disturbing terrorist threats made towards theaters that opted to screen the film, causing major chains in America to pull The Interview entirely. Ultimately, Sony gave the project a limited release in multiplexes, as well as digital distribution on platforms like iTunes and Netflix. It was an intense, crazy situation that few could believe, and fortunately those involved can now look back on the experience and joke about it.
While on The Graham Norton Show (watch the video above), Rogen discussed the whirlwind surrounding The Interview, reflecting on the toll it took on him and his time having personal security provided by Sony:
“It was a horrible experience, yes. It’s bad to be blamed for almost starting a war. It’s not fun; it’s super weird… I had personal security, and then one day they just went away. I was like, ‘I guess I’m safe now.’ The studio provided the filmmakers with security in case someone from North Korea was gonna kill us, I guess. And then literally, one day, they were just gone… the studio just didn’t want to pay for security any more.”
The reaction to The Interview was unprecedented and something that nobody could have predicted. Though Rogen is known for serving up crude (and potentially offensive) humor in his films, it’s clear that he never had any ill intentions, viewing The Interview as a goofy vehicle for him and Franco that few (if any) would take seriously. The firestorm generated by the movie is still difficult to comprehend, even with the passage of time cooling things off. It seems odd that a comedy movie could draw that much ire, but given the circumstances, Sony did the best they could. Yes, they lost a considerable amount of money on their investment, but at the time it was more important to keep moviegoers safe than risk a tragedy happening.
Thankfully, nothing came of the threats and Rogen can reminisce about everything with amused incredulity. Since the final product wasn’t hailed as a piece of biting political satire and seen mostly as an average comedy, many will agree that all the fuss was ridiculous in retrospect. It’s true that Rogen and his co-writer Evan Goldberg could have altered some details so it wasn’t too obviously connected to real-world tensions, but they still had the right to make the movie they wanted. In the end, The Interview was released to the public (relatively) consequence free and everyone can move on peacefully knowing that a crisis was averted.
The Interview is now available on Blu-ray and digital.
Source: The Graham Norton Show