The upcoming movie, The Interview, centers around Dave Skylark (an on air talent) and Aaron Rapoport (his producer) who run the highly popular television show known as "Skylark Tonight." The two discover the global reach of their show after North Korea's Kim Jong-un turns out to be a huge fan. They land an interview with the supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and hope to legitimize themselves as journalists in the process. As Dave and Aaron make the necessary preparations to travel to Pyongyang, the CIA recruits them to assassinate the North Korean dictator.
I sat down with both James Franco (Dave Skylark) and Seth Rogan (Aaron Rapaport) last year to discuss the new comedy, set to be released in December 2014.
Q: How did the idea for The Interview come about?
Seth: We had the idea for the movie a few years ago and we honestly didn't know who would be Dave Skylar. Also, until the studio saw This Is The End we didn't know if they would let us direct another movie. We had just made one with James and we felt like if we were going to direct another movie we would like it to be with people we are close with.
Seth: Initially, the storyline was written when Kim Jung Il was still alive. The idea came from reading articles about Mike Wallace interviewing Osama Bin Laden and how journalists are in a weird position to get closer to these dictators than anyone else. Also, it was inspired by the idea of how people like Saddam Hussein was a fan of Western movies and so you hear that these guys are fans of western culture and pop culture. So we thought an entertainment journalist might be a funny way into that. But then the Dennis Rodman stuff happened and made it a lot less far fetched. Our initial fear was like, "Would anyone buy that this actually happened? But when that happened we were like, "Oh that's way dumber then what we came up with."
Q: Did you fashion Dave Slylark out of anyone in particular?
Seth: We kind of say its like Oprah meets Ryan Seacrest but the amped up like crazy version. The way Franco ultimately acts in the movie is not based on anyone. It is psychotic almost, in a wonderful way but it is far more heightened then anyone who I have ever met. Although, sometimes you meet people and it s like, this guy is freaking ridiculous.
James: This guy is so obsessed with celebrity gossip. There is definitely a TMZ -ish, Harvey Levin-ish vibe where you can imagine these guys celebrating "The panty-less shot of some young starlet" as the daily "get."
Q: When you're shooting a movie like The Interview, how far is too far?
Seth: On set there is no too far. When we screen the movie, we show it to the audience and if they stop laughing then it is too far. But as long as it is funny, it's not too far at all. It's awesome.
Q: As writers what do you do about Asian, and Korean stereotypes on paper? How do you tread the line of being funny vs. offensive?
Seth: Everything about North Korea in the movie is real. We have made up zero facts about North Korean Culture or behavior or the belief system it is all 100Q% real. And as far as the specific jokes, some of the characters in the movie are more racially sensitive then others just like in real life. But over all we don't stereotype the Asian characters at all...
James: But also [our characters] the American's coming in, are Dumb and Dumber. We are not the smartest guys. So a lot of the jokes are coming from that.
Q: What is your relationship with Edward?
Seth: Sometimes, because I am in the scene, he will see things I don't see and vice versa. When it comes to directing, Edward and I are generally on the same page and have the same skill set.
Q: How are disagreements dealt with between Edward and yourself?
Seth: If he likes a specific line and I like another, we usually just end up doing both. There is never a situation where both things can't be done. In the end, we have someone else decide later.
Q: What was it like coming back to your hometown to shoot this?
Seth: It has been nice. It actually works well for our purposes. The movie is set in New York, China, and North Korea. It worked geographically. Because we grew up here, we knew of a Chinese night market in Richmond and we just wrote it [the script] with things that existed here. The whole thing takes place in this mountain complex and the area we were able to film had this scope that was gigantic.
The interview is in Theaters this Christmas: Check out the trailer below: