Theirs is one of the most star-crossed bromances of our time.
Since meeting 16 years ago while filming tragically short-lived cult TV show Freaks and Geeks, James Franco and Seth Rogen have collaborated on four films together (if you count Franco’s cameos in Knocked Up and The Green Hornet) and created the Kanye West parody to end all Kanye West parodies. The Interview, their fifth feature together, is undoubtedly their most controversial. In it, a tabloid talk show host (Franco) and his producer (Rogen) book an interview with North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Un, and the CIA convinces them to try and assassinate him. North Korea, ever the good sports, have already declared the film “an act of war,” and some even guessed that the recent Sony hack was perpetrated by scorned North Koreans (though they’ve since denied responsibility for it).
To promote the film, the shameless duo of Rogen and Franco opted to guest star on a special 15-minute version of the Discovery Channel reality series Naked and Afraid. Typically, those featured on the show must get naked and survive 21 days braving the elements, with many bowing out due to deadly snakes or dehydration. The Franco/Rogen version is clearly a satire, with the two knuckleheads playing outrageous meta-versions of themselves, a la This Is the End.
“I’ve been training for this show just by watching it,” says Franco, shit-eating grin intact. “I’ve played a knight, I’ve been a boxer, I cut my own arm off, I flew around on a glider and fought Spider-Man. I am well, well equipped for this thing—probably more than anybody that’s been on this show.”
“I don’t have a ton of survivor experience,” adds Rogen. “I went to a Jewish summer camp…”
A van pulls up, and the two hop out, and immediately strip down and do a series of stretches. Franco, it should be noted, bears a strange fascination with Rogen’s naked body, having recreated a series of odd paintings of his pal in the buff.
“I’m actually really comfortable being naked,” says Franco. “If I could, I’d be naked all the time, it’s just that I’m famous—and if I’m naked, everyone loves to talk about it and it becomes an international event.”
Rogen, however, isn’t as comfortable being naked as Franco. “Can you make the blur… big? Just like… a giant blur?” he asks.
Each participant is allowed to bring one essential survivor item with them into the wild, so Rogen bring a roll of toilet paper, and Franco, a pair of Gucci shades. The team is also given a pre-mission PSR, or Primitive Survival Rating, and Rogen is given a 1.1 (novice), while Franco is slapped with a 1.3. Their combined total of 2.4 is, the announcer says, “the lowest in the show’s history.” “[Franco] heavily relies on four personal assistants to do even his most simplest of day-to-day tasks,” says the announcer, in voiceover. “His film roles, which include a soldier, a survivalist, and a wizard, have made him dangerously overconfident in entering this challenge.”
Things don’t go so well. Immediately, you see why Rogen brought the toilet paper along, as he craps against a tree (apparently he can poop, unlike Kim Jong Un’s late father). They constantly break the fourth wall, yelling and complaining to the cameramen. Then, Rogen convinces Franco to drink some contaminated water from a stream—which causes the 127 Hours Oscar nominee to dry-heave. “I knew that was poo water,” Rogen chuckles. “I just wanted Franco to be on the same level as me. He’s already better-looking than I am, and arguably more successful than I am, so now he’s poopin’ all over the place, like me.”
At night, Rogen and Franco spoon each other in their little nature-hut—naked, of course—which Franco says is “kind of nice,” but Rogen isn’t as enthused. “He claims he sleep-gropes, but I’ve never heard of that. He says it’s diagnosed, so I guess it’s a real thing.”
Later, Rogen adds, “Franco’s woken me up with a rock-hard erection sticking in the back. At first it was annoying, now, I’m just thankful to not be alone out here.”
But soon the two pals begin butting heads. Rogen refuses to share his toilet paper with Franco, and then they run into trouble starting a fire. First, the Neighbors star tries rubbing two sticks together, and then, Franco believes he can start a fire by reflecting the sunlight off his Gucci shades. “Listen to me!” he says. “Gucci sets the catwalk on fire, and it’s going to set this on fire!”
After 21 days (probably half a day, really), the two finally emerge—completely disoriented—and covered in mud, and make their way out.
“Seth kept the team together, but his constant need to relieve himself kept the team down,” says the announcer. “James brought little in the way of survival skills, but his companionship at night raised the team morale.”
All in all, it was classic Rogen/Franco—a hilarious mix of homoeroticism, poop humor, and self-parody. But best to keep it away from Kim Jong Un.