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The team behind The Interview have maintained – throughout the controversy surrounding the film – that they were never pressured to change any part of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s comedy, even though the content would prove to be incendiary. But an editor who worked on the comedy has now said in an interview about The Interview that one significant scene was toned down, though it was a creative choice, and not one mandated by the studio.
This piece has spoilers for The Interview. You have been warned!
In a piece that ran over the weekend on EditorsGuild.com, co-editors Evan Henke and Zene Baker opened up about the difficult process that they undertook to find the humorous line in what was sure to be controversial material. The duo swear up and down that they were never censored in the editorial department, and that no one ever demanded that they scale back or tone down the movie because the jokes were too offensive. But when it came to the grand finale of the movie – which famously shows the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – the team agreed that it needed to be changed so as not to reflect the face-melting awesomeness of a movie they all grew up worshipping. According to Baker:
There were visual effects changes to the film, however. The death scene of Kim being blown up in the helicopter was toned down."
Specifically, Zene Baker said that visual effects supervisor Paul Linden worked to revise the shot so that the explosion didn’t "melt Kim’s face off, like the villain in Raiders of the Lost Ark." We all remember this scene, right?
And if you were one of the many who paid to see The Interview on VOD or in an indie theater, you know that the Kim Jong-un conclusion was close to this, but not quite as extreme. It’s very interesting that it was a self-edit, though, and not a studio "note." This isn’t the only self edit. Baker and Henke confirm that a gay orgy scene that was part of an early draft of the screenplay that leaked was scrubbed before it ever was filmed. And they explained that one of the major changes they had to make in the editing room was figuring out how to not make Kim Jong-un likable. Henke admits:
We were concerned. Had we made one of the most evil men on the planet too likable? He is a horrible person, but in our movie, we wanted him to be the butt of jokes."
We’re still trying to figure out if The Interview was a success. Yes, it changed how the industry feels about the VOD model… for now. And yes, it opened the nation’s eyes to free speech agendas… for now. But was it a good film? Did it earn the controversy it courted? Would Rogen and Goldberg do it the same way all over again if they were given the choice? We’ll always wonder.