Seth Rogen: ‘The Interview’ Caused ‘Seismic Shifts’ in Hollywood — ‘Catastrophic’

The 2014 Kim Jong-Un assassination spoof starring James Franco and Randall Park ignited North Korea terrorist threats and the infamous Sony email hack.
"The Interview" (2014)
"The Interview" (2014)
Ed Araquel/Sony

Seth Rogen is finally ready to address the infamous legacy of “The Interview” almost a decade later.

During the Hawk vs. Wolf podcast 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 faux assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

“At the time, it was really bad and really catastrophic,” Rogen recalled. “People we knew were getting fired from it. The head of the studio [Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal] was essentially fired from it. It really caused seismic shifts in Hollywood at the time and I think how business was done in some ways.”

“The Interview” starred James Franco as a talk show host who travels to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park) for an exclusive interview. However, the CIA recruits him and his TV producer (Rogen) to assassinate the dictator instead. Sony Pictures canceled the December 25, 2014 wide release of the film due to North Korean leaders calling the film an “act of war” and the subsequent Sony email hack led by allegedly North Korean-based hacker group Guardians of Peace. Digital threats of a 9/11 type attack were also issued leading up to the film’s New York premiere. Netflix acquired “The Interview” and it began streaming a month after what would have been its initial theatrical release.

“It kind of showed the success a movie could have in some ways if it has a full theatrical campaign and then immediately go to streaming,” Rogen said. “It streamed on Google and I think it’s still the biggest movie that’s ever streamed on Google which is crazy. Students come up to me and say they’re teaching it in their university class. It was wild.”

The “Fabelmans” star added on a personal note, “It really re-calibrated what I think is controversial. After that I was like now I know what it’s like. Unless the president is giving news conferences about it, that’s controversy. If someone is getting mad about it on social media, that’s not controversy. Having like the U.N. have to make a statement about it, that’s a controversy.”

The lasting “fallout” according to Rogen wasn’t as detrimental as he anticipated, though.

“We were able to keep making movies,” he said. “What’s crazy is now it’s on television, it’s on FX at 2 p.m. It was at one point the most controversial thing in the world and now I’ll be flipping channels on a Sunday afternoon and it’s just playing. I was worried maybe it would cause some longer-lasting fallout than it did.”

At the time, Rogen joked that “People don’t usually wanna kill me for one of my movies until after they’ve paid 12 bucks for it” following the death threats against him and fellow “The Interview” stars.

While on The Graham Norton Show, Rogen called “The Interview” a “horrible experience” overall.

“It’s bad to be blamed for almost starting a war. It’s not fun; it’s super weird,” Rogen said in 2016. “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.”

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