It might sound a little far-fetched when you hear it now, but back in 2014 there was some genuine concern that Seth Rogen might have ended up being responsible for World War III. The Interview was a satirical action comedy that saw James Franco play a talk show host who heads to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-un with his long-suffering producer played by Rogen in tow, and shenanigans quickly ensue.
While that seems like the kind of button-pushing controversy you’d expect from the likes of Rogen, Franco and writer Dan Sterling, who previously worked on the likes of The Daily Show and South Park, the mid-budget studio comedy inadvertently turned out to be the cause of a potentially major international incident between North Korea and the United States.
The North Korean government threatened action if Sony released the film, causing the studio to make heavy edits to appease the country’s notoriously strict regime, with rumors that the infamous hack the same year was tied to North Korea in some way. Not to mention reports of terrorist threats being made against theaters that screened The Interview, leading Sony to cancel the theatrical release entirely and send it straight to digital instead.
Rogen and his creative partner Evan Goldberg haven’t directed a feature-length movie since, and in a recent interview, the 38 year-old admitted that the whole experience had left him more than a little traumatized, which is pretty understandable when you remember that the movie’s release saw the FBI, UN and President of the United States all weigh in with their opinions.
“We’ve been writing a film that we would hopefully direct throughout this time. We’ve been working on it for years and years and years and years, honestly. Truthfully, after The Interview we were a little traumatized, I think. The idea of going into television and directing a lot of TV shows and pilots, it just was a very educational experience to us. We wanted to try a lot of different things as directors, and work with different cinematographers, different actors, different tones, different styles. And it was actually an incredible learning experience for us. And after years of doing that, we feel like we were ready to go back into directing a film basically.”
In the interim, Rogen and Goldberg have done plenty of writing and producing work, as well as directing episodes of Preacher, Future Man and Black Monday, and with a lot more experience under their respective belts, let’s hope that the next time the duo get behind the camera they don’t cause the same sort of cross-continental scandal that The Interview did.