James Franco and Seth Rogen might have stopped talking to the media about The Interview, but Evan Goldberg hasn’t. The filmmaker spoke with the Straight last week about the somewhat controversial new comedy (which has had its December 25 opening cancelled by Sony Pictures), which he directed with Rogen in their hometown of Vancouver last winter.
Naturally, we had to ask about the Sony Pictures hack, in which a group called the Guardians of Peace dumped more than 11 terabytes of explosive internal emails, budgets, salaries, personal data, and five of the studio’s biggest upcoming releases onto the Internet. Their beef is with Goldberg’s film, in which Rogen and James Franco play two idiotic media types dispatched by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“People are asking me to comment on hacking. I don’t know how you hack! I still can’t sync my phone to my computer properly, never mind this. I didn’t know you could do what’s happened,” Goldberg said on the line from Los Angeles, adding that he doesn’t agree with speculation that North Korea was behind the cyberassault. Whoever or whatever it is, the Guardians of Peace upped the ante earlier this week when it threatened to attack theatres showing the film, prompting Rogen and Franco to cancel a number of talk-show appearances.
Goldberg was sanguine about the whole matter, pointing out that he and his creative partner of 20 years are only doing their jobs as comedians.
“People seem to forget that we’re making fun of America pretty aggressively,” he said. “Franco’s character is a mockery of the very industry we work in.” The film also gives Kim Jong-un (played in full, flaming bromance mode by Veep’s Randall Park) the chance to land a couple of well-aimed, if slightly petulant, blows against the bigger empire.
“I would like to think it’s not subtle. The very nature of them wanting to assassinate Kim Jong-un, to us, is a joke,” Goldberg continued. “When America assassinates and replaces dictators, it pretty much never turns out well. I don’t personally believe that the U.S. killing Kim Jong-un is in any way a good idea. It’d destabilize the region and cause fucking anarchy in the Korean peninsula.…I just know that America overdoes it all the time and that North Korea has freedom issues, and those are two facts I’m comfortable pointing at.”
Goldberg is also comfortable pointing at something that’s been lost in all the brouhaha: that The Interview is a gut buster with a particularly outré performance from Mr. Franco, who seems to be getting crazier by the minute.
“He’s just the greatest fucking actor, and he’s so funny, and me, him, and Seth get along so well; I just enjoy him on a deep, deep level,” Goldberg said. “He’s just a hilarious human being to me, and he works like a fucking maniac. He’s just a workhorse. And as a writer, it’s very nice; as an executive producer, it’s very nice; as a director, it’s a gift from the heavens to have an actor that will literally sweat and give it his all.”
Goldberg said their long-standing friendship is the key. “I think it largely has to do with how we’re comfortable together, the three of us,” he said. “Franco knows he can go too far and we’ll take it back in editing and that we’re there to protect his performance. And I don’t mean this to sound lame, although it will, but we’re there to surround him with a safe zone where, emotionally, he feels comfortable going all the way and acting like a truly insane person.”