(Nate Jones’s article appeared in Vulture, 12/18; via Pam Green.)

On Wednesday, Sony canceled the theatrical release of The Interview after hackers linked to North Korea threatened violent reprisals against any theater caught screening the film. It was an unprecedented step, made all the more bizarre by the fact that the film at the center of the mess was just a goofy comedy from the guys who made This Is the End. How did two stoner comedians end up at the center of a serious geopolitical incident? Here's a timeline:

Some emails have been edited for spelling and clarity.

Around 2010
Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg start knocking around an idea for a movie about a journalist who’s tasked with assassinating a foreign dictator. "I feel like it's a conversation a lot of people have," Rogen tells Rolling Stone later. "Like, 'Oh, Barbara Walters could have killed Bin Laden,' or whatever." Rogen and Goldberg eventually decide to set the film in North Korea, and hire former South Park writer Dan Sterling to work on the script. At this point, the team is unclear if the North Korean dictator in the film should be Kim Jong-il or a fictional counterpart called Kim Il-hwan.

December 17, 2011
Kim Jong-il dies in real life. (The culprit is a heart attack, not James Franco.) He's succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un; Rogen, Goldberg, and Sterling decide to table the dictator discussion until they can get a sense of the younger Kim's character.


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