The AFI Interview: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen – American Film Institute

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The AFI Interview: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

By now you’ve heard all about THE INTERVIEW, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as a pair of bumbling journalists who unexpectedly land an interview (hence the title) with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Last month, the film was all over the news and cinema chains began pulling the film from their theaters ahead of its Christmas Day release. Still, moviegoers were able to see the film when Sony Pictures released it in a limited number of independent theaters and, in tandem, made it available via video on demand. Starting January 24, 2015, Netflix will begin streaming the movie for its customers.

Last year, following a screening of the THE INTERVIEW as part of the AFI Conservatory’s Harold Lloyd Master Seminar Series, co-writers and co-directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg sat down with us for a short chat about the film.

AFI: You’ve both said that you enjoy portraying real life characters on screen for comedic effect. What about that approach do you think makes it funny?

SR: I think if people can emotionally invest in some capacity, then it makes everything funnier because you actually care about what’s happening, as opposed to just watching sketches, which would be hard to get people invested in. Movies are long, so you gotta do something to make them care for that long.

AFI: What inspired THE INTERVIEW?

SR: Just the idea that journalists have access to very elusive people, basically. And that reporters are in a position to be face-to-face with someone that maybe no one else in the world would have the opportunity to be face-to-face with. That’s really where it came from. “What if someone had access to a very dangerous person and then they were asked to kill that person?” That was the seed for the idea.

interview
James Franco (L), Evan Goldberg (C) and Seth Rogen (R) on the set of THE INTERVIEW

AFI: Randall Park is very funny as Kim Jung-un. What kind of direction did you two give him?

EG: He actually informed us a lot more than we informed him. When he came in for his first audition, he brought this kind of bashful nature to the character and gave the character more dimension. Initially, we envisioned it less as someone you might start to like and more of someone who is just a villain. Together, we talked about how he’d added that to the character in his audition and we applied that to the whole script and tried to make it someone who—just as Dave Skylark, Franco’s character in the movie, emotionally starts to get attached to—we want the audience to also start to feel like “ah, he’s not that bad a guy.”

AFI: You guys write, produce and direct. What part of the movie-making process do you find most satisfying?

EG: I think writing is the most pleasurable. Directing is the most satisfying, because you’re like “Yeah, we did it! It’s real!” But it’s a massive amount of responsibility. In writing, our budget’s our imagination and we’re just alone and no one’s bothering us and we can do whatever we want.

SR: It’s all hypothetical when we’re writing, so it’s more fun to do that but directing is more fun in some ways.

EG: They’re all fun. They’re all fun!

SR: Producing is hard.

EG: Yeah, producing is the least fun.

SR: Yeah, but if you produce, you get control over the writing and directing.

AFI: Final question. What are some of your favorite comedies?

EG: SPACEBALLS, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, THE JERK.

SR: GHOSTBUSTERS. GROUNDHOG DAY is funny. I like Bill Murray movies.

EG: I had a great time at THE LEGO MOVIE recently.

And we had a great time talking to you guys.

Watch the trailer for THE INTERVIEW below.

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