Posted on Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 by Germain Lussier
Rewind the clock just over a year. It’s December 10, 2013 and /Film is on the set of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s The Interview. Everyone on set is upbeat, laughing, and more than willing to discuss that this film deals with some big issues. But no one has any idea what will transpire over the next 12 months, turning what should have been a simple, dirty comedy into a mass controversy and eventually a potential shift in the way studios look at movies.
On the set, we saw James Franco and Randall Park film what we didn’t at the time realize was a pivotal scene. It’s set in Kim Jong-Un’s tank where Dave Skylark (Franco) realizes Kim (Park) loves Katy Perry. We ran that article back in October along with an interview with Franco, Rogen and Goldberg. You can read each at those links. But much more happened on set besides that. We talked to the writer, producers, co-stars and more. It just so happens, as is the case with many set visits, lots of times some content feels superfluous.
However, now that The Interview is in theaters and on demand, we felt it might be worthwhile to dust off one of these interviews. A roundtable discussion myself and several journalists conducted with Randall Park, the actor who portrays Kim Jong-Un in the film. He spoke at length about the issues in playing a real person, his thoughts on Kim, what he thinks the dictator would think of the movie and much more. It’s a solid interview that’s even more interesting with the knowledge of what would happen in the next twelve months. Below, we invite you to read our on set Randall Park The Interview interview.
The following interview took place on December 10, 2013, and was conducted by myself and several other journalists.
What’s the preparation process in the morning to become an evil dictator?
RANDALL PARK: Well, a lot. [Laughs] I’ve been playing him for a few months now so I don’t even think about it, but sitting in makeup, eating food, getting my hair trimmed. I don’t even think about it at this point, but when I first started I definitely did a lot of ton of research and I watched a lot of The Last King of Scotland [laughs].
What do you think of the hair?
PARK: I hate it. I hate it, but you know what I have to walk around like this all the time so I wear a beanie, but sometimes I have no choice but to wear my hair and I try to make it look as normal as possible, but no, there’s no chance.
Javier Bardem hated his hair for No Country for Old Men.
PARK: That’s right, but at least he had something to work with. I don’t have anything to work with.
What’s that like working with the improvisation and working with Seth?
PARK: It’s been so fun. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done in terms of size and scope of the role. To be able to play the way they do, it makes it super fun. And to contribute the scenes. They’re so open to suggestions on top of that, and jokes, if you feel it just throw it in, they’re totally cool with it. And they’ll build on it, add to it. It’s been really fun and freeing. They’re great.
During the audition process did they sort of test you by saying certain things to see how far they could push you?
PARK: The audition process was interesting. I got the call to come in and I was like, “Okay, where are the sides for the audition?” And they just sent me the script, they told me there are no sides just to go over the script. So I literally went through the whole script trying to learn it, then I went in and just talked to them about the character, what I felt about the character, my views, and it kind of aligned with their views. Then we just literally did every scene in the script. That’s all I did. I did one audition and I got it from that one audition.
What were your views on how Kim Jong should be?
PARK: In the original version of the script that I got it wasn’t Kim Jong-un. It was actually just this kind of fictional North Korean president, but I was told right before my audition that it was going to be Kim Jong-un. So because it is this real life dictator who’s responsible for a lot of crimes against humanity I feel like maybe the tendency for most scripts would be to portray him as evil, almost one-dimensional, because he deserves that kind of treatment – at least in the eyes of many people. But I felt like just as an actor I wanted to give him some layers and portray him as more of a human being, a vulnerable multidimensional human being that just so happens to be responsible for all these horrible things. I think that really was kind of how they were seeing it as well.
Do you think the script makes a statement about how we should feel about the character or does it leave it open?
PARK: I think it does both. I think you definitely get an understanding of this guy and the situation he’s in being the son and the grandson – a part of this legacy. And being thrust into this position at a young age, running a country and maybe not being fully prepared. You get an understanding of what he must be going through, but at the same time they definitely nail in the fact that this guy is who he is and has done what he’s done and keeps that going. What’s going on there. Every day in the news we hear crazy stories about him and those stories are not swept aside in this movie.
Speaking of those stories, when people play a character they tend to become that character even outside of the movie, people are going to think of you as Kim Jong. Did you worry about that?
PARK: Hopefully my hair will have grown out and I will have lost some of the weight I’ve gained for the part.
How much weight did you gain?
PARK: I gained about fifteen pounds. I had a short period of time to do it though, because originally I was supposed to wear prosthetics for the part and five days before my first shoot day they decided not to go with it. They kind of looked a little weird, especially up close on camera. So they were like, “We’re just going to have you play him without the prosthetics, so just eat as much as you can.” [Laughs]
What did you eat?
PARK: A lot of donuts. I pretty much ate everything that I like and I’ve always wanted to eat and I just didn’t hold myself back and it was the best [laughs]. It was the best, but I also felt sick. I threw up a couple times.I had a short period of time, but I think you could tell. And then with the help of the makeup department. I have this little help, so hopefully it shows and I look a little more like the real guy than my normal self.