Last December, I flew up to Vancouver, Canada to visit the set of Seth Rogen and James Franco‘s upcoming movie The Interview.
It was cold, but as I walked into the old bike-shop-turned-movie-studio, I noticed almost everyone had a smile on their face. They were close to finishing the movie; I got to see James and Seth do their thing, and it was magic.
In The Interview, James plays Dave Skylark, the host of a popular celebrity tabloid TV show called Skylark Tonight, while Seth plays his producer Aaron Rapoport. The action kicks off when the two find out that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of their show. And when they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists, the CIA sends them on a mission to assassinate the leader.
In between the espionage, there are plenty of laughs. During the day, we watched Seth throw hilarious dialog to James, who delivers the lines in just the right way, selling the joke one hundred percent.
We sat down with James and Seth, and got an early look at The Interview. Check out our chat below:
GlobalGrind: When a project like this comes along, how quick is the conversation? What is it like?
Seth Rogen: We had the idea for the movie a few years ago, and we honestly didn’t know who would be Dave Skylark.
James Franco: You guys were talking about it on This Is The End, right? I wasn’t cast, but…
SR: Yeah, we just kind of had this idea. We didn’t know, honestly.
JF: There was no way you were talking about it during Pineapple Express. It was some idea that was kinda similar.
SR: I don’t think it’s that old. I think it was after This Is The End that we first talked to you about it.
JF: We did This Is The End, then it came out a year later. At the time it was coming out, we were talking about [The Interview].
SR: I think it was during This Is The End. Until the studio saw it, we weren’t for sure if they were going to let us direct another movie. Once they saw it, they decided that they would let us direct another movie. I think it was around then we had just made This Is The End. I had so much fun with James, and it seemed like we were gonna direct another movie. Again, we would like to work with people we’re close with and work well with. I think it all kind of came together when we finished This Is The End and went back to L.A.
JF: This is sort of the way my character was originally written in This Is The End. Suit-wearing dude who is very much about his appearance, I guess that’s how they saw me. And I also think they probably felt guilty about killing me in This Is The End.
SR: He’s never gonna get over that. He literally brought it up five minutes ago.
Was it written after the Dennis Rodman/North Korea headlines?
SR: It was actually written when Kim Jong-il was still alive. The idea came from reading articles like ‘Mike Wallace interviewed Osama Bin Laden’ that like, journalists are in a weird position and come closer to these evil dictators than anyone else. It was also inspired by the idea that you hear that these guys are fans of pop culture, Western pop culture specifically; we thought that an entertainment journalist might be a funny way into that. But then the Dennis Rodman shit happened and it made it much less far-fetched, which was great, honestly. We wanted the movie to somewhat exist in the real world. Our fear was, ‘Would anyone buy that this would even happen?’ Then that happened, we were like, ‘That’s way dumber that what we came up with.’
Is it harder when you have to act in the film, be the producer, or direct?
SR: Yeah, that’s harder than just directing. When I’m acting and something isn’t going right, and I’m the director also, I get taken out of the seat sometimes.
JF: Here’s what I observed; they are a great team. So when Seth is acting, (co-director) Evan Goldberg is behind the monitor. The way that they work, we’ve worked together for 10 years now. I guess 40-Year-Old Virgin is a lot of improv; when Seth is acting, he’s also still kind of acting as a writer. In a movie like this, the roles, positions, and jobs blend in to each other. It’s different directing and acting in a film like this than it would be in another movie. Like Seth said, as the director he’s more conscious of the non-creative things. When something isn’t going right, you can see him pop out of character.
SR: I’ll notice the camera not moving at the speed that it should. I’ll literally see it happen and be like, ‘This should be moving faster!’ If I’m not the director, I’ll go with it. I’ll engage and do any stupid thing.
Are the characters based on anyone?
SR: We kinda say it’s like Oprah meets Ryan Seacrest. If Franco ultimately acts in the movie, it’s not based on anyone, it’s like psychotic in a wonderful way, but it’s far more heightened than anyone that I’ve ever…Well, honestly no, I meet people, I’m sure you guys do, and you’re like, ‘This person is fucking ridiculous.’
JF: I don’t know any of them, but I imagine, like the way this guy is obsessed with any kind of celebrity gossip, I imagine the offices at TMZ are like, ‘Oh my god, we just got somebody…’
SR: It definitely has TMZ and Channel 11-ish vibe to it. ‘We just got the panty-less shot of…’
Do you know when you’ve gone too far?
SR: On set, there’s no too far. During the movie, we show it to the audience; if they stop laughing, it’s too far. As long as it’s funny, it’s not too far at all.
The Interview hits theaters Christmas Day. Check out the trailer below.
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