Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) and Dave Skylark (James Franco) are inside a tank in North Korea talking about Katy Perry and margaritas. They’re debating if drinking fruity margaritas and loving Katy Perry’s music means you’re gay. After saying the lines a few different ways, directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg call out a few new ways to say the dialogue and I erupt with laughter. And I’m not alone. The other reporters I’m with on the Vancouver set of The Interview are also laughing out loud. So much so that after the take ends, an assistant director comes in the room where we’re watching playback and says they can hear us laughing on set. While I’m sure they were mad at us for possibly ruining a take, I’m sure it made them happy to know they were making comedy gold. While I’ve done a lot of set visits, I’ve never laughed as much on a movie set as I did on The Interview. As a huge fan of what Rogen and Goldberg accomplished with their directorial debut, This is the End, I left Vancouver thinking they were making another home-run.
As most of you know from the red and green band trailers for the film, Franco plays a vapid talk show host who, along with his producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen), lands an interview with Kim Jong-un. But their attempt at hard news gets upended when the CIA asks the duo to assassinate the North Korean leader. Besides getting to watch the tank scene, I was able to speak with most of the cast during breaks in filming. From the on-set interviews, I’ve put together a list of 20 things to know about the film. Hit the jump to learn more about The Interview which arrives in theaters December 25.
- Rogen and Goldberg started seriously talking about making the movie during the making of This Is the End.
- The character of Dave Skylark was partially based on the way Franco’s character was originally written for This Is the End.
- The basic idea for the movie came about from reading articles about people like Mike Wallace interviewing Osama Bin Laden and hearing that Saddam Hussein was a fan of Western movies.
- They came up with the idea for the movie before the friendship between Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un developed.
- Rogen describes the character of Dave Skylark as “Oprah meets Ryan Seacrest, but amped up fuckin crazy.”
- Everything about North Korea in the movie is real, with Rogen adding “we made up zero facts about North Korean culture, behavior, or the belief system.”
- Rogen and Goldberg don’t divide up their responsibilities as co-directors, they each weigh in on every decision.
- When Rogen and Goldberg disagree on how to shoot something or which line to use, usually they will shoot both versions and decide in the editing room.
- Rogen and Goldberg wrote the script for places they knew existed in Vancouver having grown up there, using locations as stand-ins for Beijing, North Korea, and New York.
- The style in which Goldberg and Rogen filmed The Interview is “totally different” than their style on This Is the End. It starts with a level of scope that they maintain throughout the whole movie.
- Rogen and Goldberg tried to “completely abandon” the way that comedies traditionally look onscreen.
- The film is based more on political thrillers than action comedies, with Rogen citing Ridley Scott and Michael Mann movies as influences.
- For Park’s audition to play Kim Jong-Un, he literally went through the entire script with Rogen and Goldberg.
- Park wanted to ensure that his iteration of Kim Jong-Un was a multidimensional human being and not just straight-up evil.
- Park cut his hair and gained 15 pounds to play Kim Jong-Un. Five days before shooting began, they decided the prosthetics to make him look fat didn’t work so they told him to just eat as much as he could.
- The film walks a fine line between not making Kim Jong-Un too sympathetic, but also portraying him as human.
- Director Nicholas Stoller championed Park as being the right actor to play Kim Jong-Un.
- The film is an evolution from the kind of buddy relationships that Rogen and Goldberg have created in the past, with Rogen and Franco’s character navigating the “what’s next?” stage of their business partnership.
- They shot a lot of footage for the film in a number of different ways, so that in the editing room they could find the balance of how political they want the movie to be.
- Dan Sterling was hired to write the screenplay as opposed to having Rogen and Goldberg write it themselves, and Sterling brought a lot of research to the film and also created a parallel between the characters of Skylark and Kim Jong-Un.
- There may or may not be cameos in the film during the scenes that take place at Skylark’s show.
- One of the toughest things about shooting the movie in Vancouver is that it’s such a lovely city that’s it’s hard to find less appealing locations to sell it as North Korea. As Linden described, “It’s basically just sad cement. Like, that is their entire world.”
- The team behind The Interview actually arranged a licensing deal with Vice so that they could use the B-roll footage the outlet accumulated while in North Korea working on their HBO series, Vice.
As you can hopefully tell from my things to know list, The Interview looks like it’s going to be insanely funny and I cannot wait to see the film on December 25th. A huge thank you to Sony for inviting us to the Vancouver set.
For more on The Interview:
- Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and James Franco Talk Real-Life Inspiration, Improvisation, Franco’s Instagram, and More on the Set of THE INTERVIEW