The Interview death threats were 'insane'
Fresh Off The Boat's Randall Park tells The New Paper about the backlash from playing Kim Jong Un, discrimination in Hollywood and his new-found sitcom success
Playing an infamous dictator on the big screen can get one noticed.
Randall Park received a lot of attention — death threats included — when he portrayed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in last year’s satire, The Interview. The highly controversial comedy starred James Franco and Seth Rogen as journalists plotting to assassinate Kim.
A North Korean official branded The Interview as “an act of war”, and it sparked the massive cyberattack on Sony Pictures for releasing the film. The result was less of a leak and more of a deluge of embarrassing, headline-making e-mails between Sony movie executives and various stars.
The Interview eventually saw a limited US release in December last year. It was not released in Asia, including Singapore.
Park, 41, brushed off the death threats hurled upon the movie’s cast. The Korean-American actor called them “insane” and that he never felt threatened or feared for his life.
“I have no regrets being in The Interview, as it was my first time starring as a main character in a big studio film,” he told The New Paper over the phone from his native Los Angeles.
Before the Franco/Rogen joint Park had bit parts in movies like Bad Neighbours and Sex Tape as well as on TV series like Veep and Community.
“All those crazy threats from North Korea were completely unexpected and unfortunate.”
He added: “I don’t feel we were responsible for (the backlash). We just wanted to make a good, fun movie. I loved it.”
Seemingly proving the rule of "there's no such thing as bad publicity", the hype from The Interview was quickly followed by Park being cast to headline the hit US sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, now showing on Sundays at 9.50pm on FOX (Singtel TV Ch 330 and StarHub TV Ch 505).
Based on the memoir by Taiwanese-American celebrity restaurateur Eddie Huang, Fresh Off The Boat sees Park playing Huang’s father Louis, a Taiwanese immigrant whose family struggles to adjust to moving to Washington DC from Florida.
Constance Wu plays tiger mum Jessica, with Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen playing their sons Eddie, Emery and Evan respectively.
Fresh Off The Boat is a hit among US audiences. Were you surprised by the response?
Definitely. It’s still surreal that our show is popular. We finished shooting the entire season way before the first episode came out. I wasn’t sure how it’d be received because it’s very different from what American viewers are used to. So when the critical acclaim came and we received so much love...it was really a surreal feeling.
Why do you think the show resonated with viewers?
The show is unique and the characters are believable. Asian-Americans, Asians, other races... the theme of family is universal to all communities. (Fresh...) is about parents and their kids, with one kid trying to find his identity and where he sits in the world.
With your success, do you still face discrimination in Hollywood?
Yes and no. The industry is changing but discrimination is still there as it’s so deeply embedded in the culture. It’s still hard to get work as an (Asian-American) actor, and we are still not represented well.
You have Judd Apatow's comedy Trainwreck and the star-studded Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp coming up. Do you see yourself doing more movies?
I’d like to but first and foremost is that my hope is that (Fresh Off The Boat) will have Season 2. I really love working on the show.