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Despite what the U.S. government says, Dennis Rodman doesn’t believe that the notorious hack of Sony Pictures was caused by North Korea in response to The Interview.
“If the North wanted to hack anything in the world, anything in the world, really, they are going to go hack a movie? Really?!” Rodman says to The Hollywood Reporter, in his first extensive comments about the Sony film.
The former NBA player spoke with THR on the eve of the premiere of his Slamdance documentary Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang, which chronicles his travels to visit the country’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un.
“How many movies have there been attacking North Korea? And they never hacked those. North Korea is going to hack a comedy, a movie that is really nothing? I can’t see that happening,” he says. “Of all the companies … really? Over a movie?!”
When the basketball star initially found out about Sony’s Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy, which depicts the assassination of the regime leader, he wasn’t immediately taken aback.
“They’re doing a movie about North Korea and it’s a comedy. And I went cool, cool, cool. The next thing you know, I’m seeing some of the pieces, and he wants to go kill this guy? That ain’t funny. That is not funny,” Rodman recalled.
Rodman considers himself something of a North Korea expert, since he is one of the few Americans who have traveled there with the cooperation of the regime. His last visit is documented in the Slamdance documentary and details how he brought a team of basketball players to the country. The movie, directed by Colin Offland, premieres Jan 25.
“This is the real North Korea, this is the real movie,” he tells THR of Big Bang, not The Interview, which he says he hasn’t seen and doesn’t think he ever will.
Rodman recalls being awed by his interactions with regime leader Kim. “To see a guy like that , this 5-foot-2 or 5-foot-1 guy, have that much power, in a country like that, and see people get emotional, crying, 20,000 of them clapping, it was so surreal. It blew my mind,” he says.
But just as he practiced his so-called “basketball diplomacy” during his multiple trips to North Korea that began in February 2013, he now wants to try some movie mediation.
Rodman says Interview co-director Rogen’s representatives reached out to him in the fall of 2013 for what he thinks was an invitation to act as a consultant on the film or perhaps to cameo. But he was in the middle of putting together his trip to the country (and the basketball game shown in the film) and by the time his own reps responded, he was told the movie was in postproduction.
“I would have liked to have said to [Rogen], ‘Let’s go to North Korea and actually see it. See what’s really going on. Then make your movie,'” Rodman says.
He continued: “I would still [take Rogen] now. I would ask Seth and all those involved in the movie to go to North Korea with me. And then do an interview with me about the movie.”
Rodman, 53, was part of the bad boy crew of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons who had to fight for respect against teams such as the Lakers and the Celtics. You’d think that maybe this scrappiness bonded him with North Korean leader Kim. But Rodman says no, it’s just a simple love for basketball. And with his documentary he wants the world to see a glimpse of the country famous for its human rights violations and see that it’s not that bad.
“People ask, ‘Why would you do that? Why would you go sit next to him. He’s a bad guy,'” Rodman says. “To me, I was so surprised. He treated me very, very nicely, like one of the family, you know. And I’m not a hater. I don’t care what you do in the world. If you treat me nice, I’m good. And one thing people don’t’ understand, until you go to North Korea and actually see it, it’s a whole different story.”
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