Seth Rogen and James Franco have faced murderous drug dealers and demons from Hell. But are they prepared to venture into the most dangerous place on Earth to take out an oppressive dictator?
Of course not. But that's the set-up of their new comedy, The Interview. Franco plays an entertainment journalist, while Rogen stars as his producer. The two are sent to North Korea to interview their show’s biggest fan: Kim Jong-un, the country's mysterious supreme leader. But on their way to the big get, the CIA recruits them to assassinate the despot.
Rogen, who co-directed the film with his longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg (This Is the End), told Yahoo Movies that the idea sprang from a legitimate premise: "People have the hypothetical discussion about how journalists have access to the world’s most dangerous people, and they hypothetically would be in a good situation to assassinate them," he said.
Rogen explained that the original script had been about meeting North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il, but when the dictator died in 2011, they reworked it to focus on his son and successor. The switch to Kim Jong-un, Rogen said, "actually worked much better, because he's closer to our age, and it made it easier to forge a relationship between his character and our characters."
According to Rogen, the film's studio, Columbia Pictures, was initially reluctant to build a film around a real and extremely unpleasant person, but he and Goldberg took the pushback as inspiration. "It was kind of similar to This Is the End, where they didn't want us playing ourselves," he said. "Now we can tell them, 'The thing that you guys are the most afraid of is always the thing that people like the most about the movie.' At this point, it almost is discomforting if there's nothing about the movie that they're desperately trying to get us to change."
While the movie plays the situation for laughs, Rogen revealed that they took their research into North Korea very seriously. "We read as much as we could that was available on the subject. We talked to the guys from Vice who actually went to North Korea and met Kim Jong-un. We talked to people in the government whose job it is to associate with North Korea, or be experts on it."
Rogen and Goldberg also asked authorities on North Korea to read the screenplay for authenticity, because Rogen felt the truth is "so crazy you don’t need to make anything up." (Apparently the joke in the trailer about Kim Jong-un not needing to urinate or defecate is based on an actual claim.) "It's an unlimited supply of craziness," Rogen concluded.
The Interview will invade theaters on Oct. 10.