Despite the fact that Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton were supportive of the project, Rogen and Goldberg took the script, which was originally titled “Kill Kim Jong Un,” to a team of comedians and actors including Jonah Hill and Sacha Baron Cohen for an outside opinion.
They asked if it would be a good idea to name the movie’s dictator Kim Jong-un, “and the consensus was that it would make the movie funnier and more interesting,” they said.
Rogen and Goldberg said that it “seemed wrong” to back away from depicting Kim Jong-un in the movie. “That would be like saying, ‘Don’t make fun of Hitler because it’ll piss off Hitler.’ Because Hitler’s power comes from people being too afraid of Hitler to stop Hitler from being such a Hitler. And instead of our film looking back on past events, it could actually tackle something current.”
The two also explained their surprise when Sony pulled the movie from its Christmas release after the hackers threatened a more extreme response. “For a moment it truly seemed possible that our movie might just cease to exist,” they said. “It seemed like a rash decision born out of fear. It was disappointing that the immediate reaction was to do exactly what the criminals wanted.
“We felt it was important to make it available to any theater that wished to. Even if ultimately nobody showed it, we felt it was an important statement to make for our film and for freedom of speech. They assured us it would be released,” they added.
The two also described President Obama’s public disapproval of pulling the movie as “surreal and thrilling. It gave Sony the momentum they needed to get the movie out there.”