Its long been the general consensus that North Korea was responsible for the devastating 2014 Sony hack, an event that shook Hollywood and rustled up scores of industry secrets and gossip. The catalyst for the attack was, apparently, The Interview, a satirical comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as a pair of American journalists whom the C.I.A. asks to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. However, not everyone believes that the massive hack was actually North Koreas doing—and Rogen himself, you might be surprised, is one of those people.
In a new interview with Vulture, the comedian explained that he never really bought the North Korea theory, for a handful of reasons. Though it does seem that North Korea hacked into Sonys system in order to view The Interview long before the films actual release, the nation may not have been behind the leaked e-mails—because it wasnt until closer to the films premiere that hacked messages began to surface. “Then, months later, when the movie itself finally came out, all this hacking shit happened,” Rogen said. “This was months after North Korea had probably already seen the movie. Why would they wait [to leak the e-mails]? And they never did anything like that before and havent done anything like it since. So things just never quite added up.”
According to a cyber-security expert Rogen hired, theres also no way the hack could have been done remotely, given the amount of stuff that was pilfered. Instead, the expert told Rogen, it must have been “a physical act.”
“It required plugging shit into other shit,” Rogen recalled. “And the hack also seemed weirdly targeted at Amy [Pascal], which seems fishy—of all the people to target? Why not me? Why not Michael Lynton [Sony Pictures Entertainments former chairman and C.E.O.]?
Its fair to say that Pascal, who was then the chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainments film division, endured more criticism—for a racist e-mail exchange with Scott Rudin about President Barack Obama, among other things—in the hacks aftermath than anyone else at Sony whose e-mails were published. Shortly after the hack, Pascal announced that she was stepping down from her position. The fallout was one of the reasons Rogen re-assessed his thoughts on the hack.
The culprit, he posited, might actually have been “a disgruntled Sony employee” rather than North Korean forces. “Ive also heard people say that they think someone was hired to do the hack as a way of getting Amy Pascal fired. I dont know if I subscribe to those theories, but I kind of dont think it was North Korea.”
Still, the comedian doesnt regret making the movie; he just wishes the film itself had been better.
“Creatively we could have done things to help the tone,” he said. “There was a joke in Hilarity for Charity [his Netflix special] that we wound up cutting out where Nick Kroll was yelling at me about The Interview, and hes like, Your failure to wrangle James Francos performance gave the whole movie tonal problems.” Clearly, Rogen agrees with that, at least.
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Cannes Film Festival Through The AgesPreviousNext
Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.