Five years after The Interview, producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg re-team with screenwriter Dan Sterling for another story that emulates the current state of political affairs. But this one, Rogen promises, won’t incite hate mail from North Korea. “I think this movie will steer clear from the controversies that befell our previous collaboration,” he jokes to EW.
Once dubbed Flarsky, the latest from this producing pair stars Charlize Theron as a U.S. Secretary of State hoping to be the country’s first female president, as revealed in EW’s first-look photos at Long Shot.
Sounds topical, right? Well, Rogen clarifies it’s more of a love story similar to the style of Knocked Up that “takes place in another universe than our actual world.” Like, there’s no Trumpian figure, per se. Although, Alexander Skarsgård plays another dreamboat Prime Minister of Canada and Bob Odenkirk takes over as POTUS.
“We wanted to make a movie that acknowledged the political realities we all live in without trying to make too heavy-handed directives,” Rogen explains, “and at the same time make something that’s highly enjoyable and highly entertaining that appeals to as wide an audience as anything I’ve made.”
Rogen adds a new character to his rolodex: Fred Flarsky, “a hard-hitting political writer” with “a talent for trouble,” according to the official synopsis. When he reunites with his old crush, Charlotte Field (Theron), he finds she’s now one of the most powerful women in the world making a play for the Oval Office.
“There’s a nostalgia to [the relationship] and she really enjoys that, this remembrance of her when she was young,” Theron mentions of Charlotte and Fred. “She somehow has forgotten that and he reminds her.”
Through sheer charm, Fred lands a job offer to “punch up her campaign speeches,” but the pair’s chemistry plunges them into a cross-continental affair — one that, paired with Fred’s past and present indiscretions, threatens to dismantle Charlotte’s entire Presidential campaign.
Rogen maintains “there was only one person that I really thought could play the other role in the movie and that was Charlize,” but the Mad Max and Tully star says the part comes with “a lot of fear attached to it.”
“If anybody knows me from any kind of comedy, it’s probably the darker comedies that I’ve done that are maybe not considered comedies to a lot of people, that maybe are just horror movies,” the actress jokes of films like Young Adult. “It’s not my play zone,” she adds. “I explored a little bit, but not to the level of working next to Seth Rogen and trying to keep up with that.”
Work on what would become Long Shot began years ago — nine, by Rogen’s estimates — with Sterling’s 2012 Black List script and it continued to evolve since then through director Jonathan Levine (Rogen’s helmer on 50/50 and The Night Before), Rogen, Theron (who first came aboard as a producer before agreeing to star), and Sterling. In more recent years, the film benefited from The Post screenwriter Liz Hannah, Theron’s former intern of three months at the Oscar winner’s Denver and Delilah who then began work at the production company full time in development.
The initial goal was to “tell a comedic love story in a unique way,” Theron recalls. “It was the concept of telling a story that felt fresh and felt new in the confines of what a comedy or a love story could be and just turn all of those ideas on their heads.”
There’s a lot more front-of-camera talent populating the cast with O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Den of Thieves), Andy Serkis (Black Panther), June Diane Raphael (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Ravi Patel (Master of None), and Randall Park (The Interview) featuring opposite the leading duo.
Long Shot is currently scheduled to hit theaters on May 3, 2019. “Everybody who does not see this will die,” Theron offers as a final zinger.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Liz Hannah worked as an intern at Denver and Delilah for three years. She served as an intern for three months before coming aboard full-time in development.