Mel Brooks has directed some controversial comedies during his legendary career, so he understands how Seth Rogen and James Franco might be feeling now that The Interview has been pulled from its Dec. 25 release date.
In their comedy—which was the cause of a gigantic cyberattack on Sony—two TV journalists assassinate North Korean leader-for-life Kim Jong-un. In The Producers, Brooks put Adolf Hitler in ice skates and built a ridiculous Broadway musical around his notoriety. Of course, as Brooks told Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night, “I waited ’til Hitler was dead,” he said. “I don’t know how crazy [North Korea is], so I’m going to ask you to stop talking about it.”
Some things never change, though. Believe it or not, even with Hitler dead, the studio wanted Brooks to remove Hitler from The Producers. “Could you imagine? Take out Hitler?” Brooks told EW in 2013. “There’s no movie. Hitler is the driving force that makes the movie work.”
Brooks went for the joke on Kimmel, but it would’ve been even more interesting to hear him address the matter seriously. Kim is not Hitler, at least with regard to the immediate threat that he presents to America. But Brooks had the right idea long ago: “It’s been one of my lifelong jobs—to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler,” he told 60 Minutes in 2001. “You have to bring him down with ridicule, because if you stand on a soapbox and you match him with rhetoric, you’re just as bad as he is. But if you can make people laugh at him, then you’re one up on him.”