Co-Director Evan Goldberg and Producer James Weaver Talk THE INTERVIEW, Test Screening Response, James Franco’s “Insane” Character & More

     May 6, 2014

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Longtime collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg made one hell of a directorial debut with last year’s excellent apocalyptic comedy This Is the End, and luckily we don’t have long to wait for their follow-up.  The duo are currently deep in post-production on their next directorial effort, The Interview, which revolves around a talk show host (James Franco) and his producer (Rogen) who find themselves in over their heads when they get involved in a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-Un.

Steve recently sat down with Goldberg and producer James Weaver in anticipation of the new comedy Neighbors, which they both produced, and during the conversation the two also talked a bit about The Interview.  They discussed the test screening process for the film, noting that they’re nearly finished with it altogether, and they also talked about Franco’s “insane” performance as the talk show host and how Rogen and Goldberg have upped their game as directors.  Read on after the jump.

this-is-the-end-james-franco-seth-rogen-jay-baruchelWhen discussing the test screening process for The Interview, Weaver noted that they were slightly hesitant that audiences might reject the whole premise of the movie outright:

WEAVER: There’s a moment right when you’re about to test a movie where there is—you know you’re gonna hear if they like the jokes and you know you’re gonna hear if they like the characters and how the performances are, but there’s a moment right before where there could be full concept rejection (laughs).  In This Is the End we had actors playing themselves, and no matter how funny the movie is, if that doesn’t work the movie is going to have serious issues.  With [The Interview], we have a character Kim Jong-Un in our movie, and our two heroes are out to kill him, and it is really Kim Jong-Un, and we are really using some of that stuff in our movie for the narrative.

Luckily, the test screening response has been positive, with Weaver noting that it was in line with the scores for This Is the End and Neighbors:

WEAVER: So there’s a moment when you’re going in where it’s like, ‘Okay we’ve got a good concept, two idiots trying to kill the most dangerous man in the world, that sounds like an awesome movie,’ but it’s Kim Jong-Un and we were like, ‘Is this gonna…’ and they loved it.  They really liked that.  [And] we had an amazing performance from Randall Park.

GOLDBERG: Who I now think is one of the best actors alive.  He’s so good in it, it’s fucking crazy.  It’s like Christoph Waltz the first time you saw him, you’re just like ‘Oh my God!’

the-interview-seth-rogen-evan-goldbergWeaver also said The Interview marks a big step up for Goldberg and Rogen as directors:

WEAVER: It is a next-level directing step for Seth and Evan.  We got helicopters and tanks and tigers and all sorts of amazing stuff in the movie and it’s shot really, really well.

GOLDBERG: Yeah [cinematographer] Brandon Trost really upped his game.  We decided to rip off even better looking movies this time (laughs).  We were like, “Can you rip off like Michael Mann kind of?” and he was like, “Yeah of course I can” (laughs).

While Franco usually plays a more subdued character opposite Rogen, for The Interview, they told the actor to “go crazy”:

GOLDBERG: I also think one of the reasons why the movie’s so exciting to the audiences we’ve shown it to is, we’ve done a lot of stuff with Franco, but [for this] we were just like, ‘Go crazy.’  Dan Sterling, who wrote the script, crafted this character that’s like, essentially if he wasn’t a celebrity he’d be in an institution, like he’s so bonkers and insane.  Franco go to do so much crazy stuff and you could tell as an actor he was having the greatest time.  We always find that when people are having fun they give us better comedy, and Franco was having the most fun I’ve ever seen him have, and he delivered the weirdest, craziest performance.  Normally in our movies he plays like a quieter guy and [in The Interview] he’s playing an amped up, super high-energy, ADHD talk show host celebrity who’s really excited and happy.  It’s just kind of different and I think the audience gets caught up in the whirlwind of his enthusiasm.

the-interview-james-franco-seth-rogenGoldberg said that they’re almost finished with the editing process, adding that they just have one or two more test screenings to go:

GOLDBERG: We’re just doing something Judd [Apatow] taught us, we’re doing a bizarro cut, which is we do two previews at the same time.  Once we figure out our A cut, our primary movie, we then make a different one that’s just testing all sorts of crazy stuff in case we got bogged down in what we already have and didn’t realize—we go around the office and ask everybody if they could put one joke back in, what joke they’d want to put back in and we don’t question it, we just put them in.  So we’re gonna do two previews at the same time, the bizarro cut and the new cut, and then after that we’ll be done or we’ll do one more preview, but we’re like weeks away from being finished.

Watch the full video interview below, and look for more from Goldberg and Weaver on Collider soon.  The Interview opens in theaters on October 10th.

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