Sony’s cancellation of The Interview may be the most extreme reaction to a film that does away with a world leader, but it’s not the first time Hollywood has staged a fictional killing of a world leader the US doesn’t particularly like.
The Interview is also not the first time, by the way, that Hollywood has caved to world pressure. In the 1930’s, before the US entered World War II, Tinseltown canceled or modified quite a few films so that they wouldn’t antagonize Germany or Nazis, the New Yorker notes.
But since then, Hollywood has killed off many of America’s enemies, mostly in comedies or outright parodies. Here are a few examples:
World leader killed: Iraqi president Saddam Hussein
The actor who played Hussein in this 1993 film, Jerry Haleva, only ever acted as Hussein, because of their physical resemblance. The film, a Charlie Sheen parody of Rambo and also a bunch of other movies, shows a caricature of Hussein being crushed by a piano.
World leader killed: Wait for it…Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s father and North Korea’s last leader
At least one theater is showing this film instead of The Interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The 2004 film killed a puppet version of Kim Jong Il. Post-The Interview, USA Today is asking readers in a poll whether they think Trey Parker and Matt Stone could get away with making Team America today.
World leader killed: German dictator Adolf Hitler
In typical Tarantino fashion, Hitler is killed in a violent and extremely graphic scene, shot to death at close range. This film was released in 2009, long after Germany was likely to have a negative response. It was actually received quite well in the country, GlobalPost reported.
World leader killed: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
Before the sitcom Friends, Matthew Perry starred in the one-season show Second Chance in 1987. In the show’s pilot, Gaddafi appears in “St. Peter’s office,” already dead, awaiting his final judgment. “Oh come on, you must have known it was coming,” St. Peter says, before sending Gaddafi to hell.
Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) cuts straight to the punch, literally—the character disrupts a summit of antagonistic world leaders and beats them up. It’s hard to see exactly what’s going on in the fight sequence, but he seems to have a go at the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev, Ugandan President Idi Amin, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Palestine’s Yasser Arafat, Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.
Nobody in the film says that Charlie Chaplin is Hitler, but, well, the resemblance in subject matter and name (Adenoid Hynkel) and the actor’s facial hair choice suggest otherwise. There have been plenty of comparisons made between The Interview and The Great Dictator, though The Washington Post makes the case that they have nothing in common. It’s also unclear whether “Hynkel” actually dies in the film—he is accidentally taken to one of his own concentration camps, though, so his prospects don’t look good.