Seth Rogen is finally ready to address the infamous legacy of “The Interview” nearly a decade later.
During the Hawk vs. Wolf presented by MALKA Media, Rogen opened up to co-hosts Tony Hawk and Jason Ellis about the “catastrophic” fallout of the controversial 2014 comedy about a fake assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
“At the time, it was really bad and really abysmal,” Rogen recalled. “People we knew were getting fired. The workshop manager [Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal] was basically fired from it. It really caused seismic changes in Hollywood at the time and I think things were going a certain way.
“The Interview” starred James Franco as a talk show host who travels to North Korea to meet Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park) for an exclusive interview. However, the CIA recruits him and his television producer (Rogen) to assassinate the dictator instead. Sony Pictures canceled the film’s large-scale release on December 25, 2014 due to North Korean leaders calling the film an “act of war” and the ensuing Sony email hack led by the hacker group allegedly based in North Korea, Guardians of Peace. Digital threats of a 9/11-style attack were also issued ahead of the film’s premiere in New York. Netflix acquired “The Interview” and it began streaming a month after what would have been its first theatrical release.
“It kind of showed how successful a movie could be in some ways if it has a full theatrical campaign and then immediately goes to streaming,” Rogen said. “It was shown on Google and I think it’s still the greatest movie ever shown on Google, which is crazy. Students come up to me and tell me they teach it in their college class. was wild.
The ‘Fabelmans’ star added on a personal note: “It really recalibrated what I think is controversial. After that I was like now I know what it is. Unless the president gives press conferences about it, it’s a controversy. If someone gets angry on social media, it’s not controversial. Having like the UN has to make a statement about it is a controversy.
The lasting “fallout” according to Rogen, however, was not as detrimental as he had anticipated.
“We were able to keep making movies,” he said. “What’s crazy is that now it’s on TV, it’s on FX at 2 p.m. It was at one point the most controversial thing in the world and now I’m going to change the channel on a Sunday after 12 noon and it just plays in. I feared it would cause more lasting fallout than it did.
At the time, Rogen joked that “people generally don’t want to kill me for one of my movies until they’ve paid $12 for it” following death threats against him and the other stars of “The Interview.”
During The Graham Norton Show, Rogen called “The Interview” an “awful experience” overall.
“It’s wrong to be accused of almost starting a war. It’s not funny; it’s super weird,” Rogen said in 2016. “I had personal security, and then one day they left. I was like, ‘I guess I’m safe now.’ The studio provided security for the filmmakers in case someone from North Korea was going to kill us, I guess. And then literally, one day, they were just gone… The studio just didn’t want to pay for security anymore.