The Dad On 'Fresh Off The Boat' Played Kim Jong Un In 'The Interview' But Will That Publicity Help ABC?
What does such a seemingly family-friendly sitcom have to do with such a raunchy, violent stoner comedy, you ask? They both share a star: 40-year-old Randall Park, who plays the dad on Fresh Off the Boat , and who portrayed North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Un in The Interview . Although it looked for a moment like the satirical action-comedy might never see the light of day, it did end up screening in just over 300 independent movie theaters across the country and was released by Sony for digital download. The movie ended up grossing $1.8 million in cinemas on opening weekend, for a fairly impressive $5,400 per-theater average; and The Interview went on to become Sony's biggest online release ever, as well as the year's highest-selling film on both Google Play and YouTube. But will it help the ABC comedy at all?
ABC would probably prefer that the connection to a big screen hot topic comes without the controversy since the series has its own issues. On one hand, the show seems like a hilarious good time dealing with family, cultural identity, and coming of age as an "other" in America. On the other, not everyone is pleased with the end result: celebrity chef Eddie Huang, upon whose memoir the series is based, has been butting heads with the network lately, ridiculing their promo department and posting a lengthy diatribe in New York Magazine called "Network TV Ate My Life." No wonder, then, that ABC is avoiding any and all association with one of last year's most infamous entertainment controversies: the Sony hacking scandal surrounding the release of the James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy The Interview .
You might assume that with all the buzz and monetary (if not critical) success surrounding The Interview, that ABC would want to take advantage of their connection to the most talked-about film of 2014. Wouldn't you think that all the "F— yeah, America!" people who paid to see The Interview so that "the terrorists won't win" might be inclined to check out the next project of "that Kim Jong-Un" guy? Yet, by watching ABC's promotion of the show, you'd hardly be aware of the connection.
Were network execs nervous to associate themselves with the Sony kerfuffle? Are they afraid that hackers might attack them next if they advertised a connection to The Interview? Is it simply that the hard-R film doesn't exactly jive with the sitcom's Modern Family-esque vibe? (If I had my guess, I'd say it's that last one.) Whatever the reason, ABC is advertising Fresh Off The Boat more on the strength of Huang's name than Park's... which is a shame, because Park is a great actor.
Apart from his performance as the unhinged, Katy Perry-loving despot, Park has also had great success in a variety of films and television shows over the past ten years. Aside from guest part on the likes of House, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Office, L.A.-born son of Korean parents also had a recurring role for two years on Nickelodeon's Supah Ninjas, as the main character's father. (This was the same superhero action/comedy that starred George Takei as a hologram-sensei affectionately referred to as "Hologramps.") He appeared as a "correspondent" in Season 2 Adult Swim's parody series Newsreaders , a spin-off of the channel's irreverent Children's Hospital. Park has also recurred in 10 episodes of the HBO comedy Veep as Selina Meyer's arch-nemesis, Minnesota Governor Danny Chung.
On the film side of things, Park can be seen in small roles in the likes of 2010's Dinner For Schmucks, 2011's Larry Crowne, and 2012's The Five Year Engagement. This past year alone, Park appeared in four big screen comedies: Seth Rogen & Zac Efron's Neighbors, Jason Segel & Cameron Diaz's Sex Tape, Amy Poehler & Paul Rudd's They Came Together, and, of course, The Interview.
Park's resumé may currently consist entirely of supporting parts in ensemble comedies, but if Fresh Off The Boat is as big a success for ABC as black-ish and Modern Family before it, then the actor could be launched to sought-after leading man status overnight.
Image: Nicole Wilder/ABC