Actor Randall Park has one of those classic Hollywood climbing-the-ladder stories. He worked steadily in small parts for years before finally achieving his breakout role as Kim Jong Un in the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy The Interview.
All seemed great until Sony’s emails were hacked by a group allegedly angry about the film, about a plot to assassinate the North Korean leader. Then someone who claimed to represent the hackers threatened violence on anyone who saw the movie. In a stunning move, Sony canceled the Christmas Day release of the movie entirely. Now, Park’s biggest part won’t see the light of day.
Before the madness, buzz for The Interview was steadily growing. So much that The Washington Post named Park (who also stars in ABC’s new comedy Fresh Off the Boat this spring) one of its 2015 “actors to watch.” At the time of the Post interview, Park was extremely jazzed about the role but acknowledged the movie was “a big risk.” Before officially committing, he ran the idea by his parents, who are from South Korea. As it turned out, Park’s parents thought the idea was hilarious. “I felt free to be as excited as I actually was, because I was so psyched to play such a great character and also work with those guys,” Park said.
Park began to research as much as possible. He studied the Vice documentary following Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea, in which Kim Jong Un seemed nervous about meeting one of his NBA heroes. That encounter parallels The Interview, where the leader is a big fan of Franco’s talk show host. During filming, though, Park relied mostly on his imagination.
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When asked about reports of Sony being hacked, Park said he doubted it had anything to do with North Korea. “I even question a lot of the news reports about the kind of statements being made. I don’t know how accurate or sensationalized those news reports are,” Park said. He compared the real-life hoopla to the media frenzy portrayed in the movie, which pokes fun at American tabloid culture and celebrity worship.
As of Friday, U.S. intelligence officials said they believe the hackers were working for North Korea.