The Controversial Comedy That Nearly Launched World War 3 Is Streaming On Netflix

By TeeJay Small | Published

These days, it seems as if political turmoil has affected every popular movie to grace theaters, as the growing divide between American audiences continues shifting our cultural landscape. Still, no modern film could top the absolute havoc caused by one silly over-the-top comedy from 2014. The film in question, The Interview, is a stoner comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, which caused a massive cyber attack and nearly launched a nuclear war.

The Interview’s Amazing Cast

The Interview was written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who previously worked together on films such as Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, and more. Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Anders Holm, and Veep‘s Timothy Simons round out the cast alongside Rogen and James Franco, with cameo appearances from the likes of Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Rob Lowe, Zac Efron, and Iggy Azalea.

Retooled To Try And Appease North Korea

Rogen and Goldberg initially developed the idea for The Interview in the mid-2000s, working alongside screenwriter Dan Sterling to craft a script in which a talk show host is tasked with killing a fictitious dictator from a nebulous foreign locale. After pitching the concept to Sony, the studio specifically demanded the filmmakers retool their script to focus on real-life North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who had taken power after the death of his father in 2011.

Talk Show Host That Changes History

The gang agreed to these terms and developed a final script for The Interview, which centered on celebrity talk show host Dave Skylark and his producer Aaron Rapaport, who travel to North Korea after learning that Kim Jong Un is a fan of their show. Skylark is more than happy to deliver a puff piece on the maligned foreign leader, while Rapaport wishes to expand into more hard-hitting journalism. However, both of their plans are derailed when the duo are enlisted by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong Un for the American government.

North Korea Does Not Come Off Well

Throughout the film, Skylark becomes endeared to President Kim as the couple humorously engages in bonding activities such as basketball, staged local tours, and utilizing heavy weaponry as playthings. Rapaport becomes concerned that Kim’s propaganda is highly effective on his business partner, fearing that the interview will result in nothing more than an opportunity for Kim to spread lies to the American public through their massive platform. As the film builds to its explosive conclusion, the entire nation of North Korea is presented as a miserable wasteland full of starving people living under the thumb of a maniacal ruler.

Unfortunately, once the DPRK caught wind of the project, their government threatened military action against the United States, as the hermit nation considered the production to be an act of overt military aggression. North Korea has a long and storied history of posturing nuclear warfare against the US, though the initial reports of The Interview struck a nerve.

North Korea Attacked Sony

Despite Sony’s insistence that the filmmakers center the entire plot of The Interview around Kim Jong Un, the studio tucked its tail in fear of military action and delayed the movie’s release while re-editing certain scenes to be more palatable for foreign audiences. While reworking the film, North Korean hackers breached Sony’s servers as a show of force, releasing hundreds of leaked emails, script notes, and other behind-the-scenes info regarding projects such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

The United States Government Weighed In

After holding a few red-carpet premieres for the film, Sony executives canceled the wide theatrical release of The Interview, citing safety concerns. Studio heads apparently wanted to cancel the release of the film entirely after receiving additional cyber threats from North Korean hackers, as well as threats of violent military retribution. Then-President Barack Obama even weighed in on the matter, urging Sony to release the film and stating, “We cannot have a society in which some dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States. I wish they’d spoken to me first. I would have told them: do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated.”

Skipped Theaters Due To Saftey Cocnerns

Ultimately, The Interview was released on digital platforms in December 2014 and became something of a cult classic. While the film definitely lost out on money from the pulled theatrical release, the controversy surrounding the film boosted digital sales and rentals, ultimately becoming Sony’s most successful digital release. DVD copies of the film were airdropped into DPRK territory by South Korean human rights organizations in hopes that the people would revolt against their government.

Streaming on Netflix

Now, as we approach the ten year anniversary of this hilarious film, it seems absurd to think that it nearly sparked an international conflict. If you’d like to catch The Interview today, the film can be streamed on Netflix. Just be sure to clear your cache and cookies afterward to be sure you don’t get targeted by foreign hackers.