In April 2015 a number of emails from the recent Sony leak were uploaded to Wikileaks. A lot of detail about The Brothers Grimsby movie was released in these emails. Full access to these emails can be seen on the Wikileaks page here.
In an email that came to light as part of the Sony hack, Ken Yu, the Head of Franchise Management & Studio Marketing at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (Taiwan) Division, wrote: “There are countless jokes that made us laugh out loud, such as ‘Singaporean noodle tattoo’, ‘jumping off to frozen pool that celebrates Christmas in summer’, ‘the Queen got AIDS and passed it onto the Pope’.”
Leaked scene 1 – The Queen gets aids
The Queen contracts HIV and passes it onto the Pope. It is understood that the Queen becomes infected when a child with the virus is assassinated, covering her with blood. A source has told The Sun: “No decision has been made on whether it will make the final cut, but if it does, it will inevitably cause a lot of outrage.”
Leaked scene 2 – The elephant vagina
According to the synopsis for Grimsby, at one point “Sebastian and Digger have to escape amid crazed hijinks involving hiding out in an elephant’s vagina”. In a February 2014 email, Sony’s Spain director Ivan Losada said: “…let me tell you that the Elephant´s vagina is one of the most disgusting things we have ever seen…But this is not a bad thing, we will obviously get a 18 censor, which, in this case is a good message for our target audience”.
Sacha Baron Cohen is “tough to control”
In a February 2014 email to former Sony chief Amy Pascal, Working Title’s Eric Fellner (one of the film’s producers) said: “despite me adoring sbc [Sacha Baron Cohen] he’s tough to control both creatively and financially”.Elsewhere, the emails outlining Baron Cohen’s deal state that the writer-actor (referred to throughout as “sbc”) will have has final cut” on the picture, and “the right to designate co-stars”.
Colin Farrell couldn’t be in it, because of his “lobster” weight
An early contender for the Sebastian role was Colin Farrell, who, according to the emails, performed well in test screenings.
“Unfair to judge the other guys against the polished test, but Colin was by far the funniest. He was so committed. Can he do the accent? Not sure. Is he box office poison? Maybe. But, as of tonight, he would be my choice,” reads a March 2014 email from Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group President Doug Belgrad.
However, it seems Farrell turned down the role.
“Feels like he needs 6 to 8 wks in btw movies to be with his kids. To lose the weight the director asked him to gain on lobster and to be creatively prepared for grimsby. SBC wants to go to Clive Owen. Let’s discuss,” reads one email. (“Lobster”, incidentally, is a reference to Farrell’s role in Yorgos Lanthimos”s forthcoming science fiction movie The Lobster, not an indication that the actor has been eating too much shellfish.)
Mark Strong “came out of nowhere”
“Mark came out of nowhere yesterday and although completely different he has a real quality about him,” wrote FEllner in an April 2014 email. “The two things sbc likes are most important he feels he can play well off him to get the best of the humour…and that at any moment you think he may kill someone!”
Belgrad later forwarded the message on to Pascal, with the words: “Just spoke to Eric who assures me that this is not a last ditch effort to avoid going with Guy Pearce.”
Guy Pearce and Clive Owen were also both contenders … but Clive was “more smarmy”
Both actors screentested for the role of Sebastian. But during one email, Pascal outlined why she preferred Pearce, writing:
“Guy is about 4 years older than Sasha and Clive is closer to 7 or 8 but the age thing is more an issue than they think. And although both are actually older .. With Clive you really feel it think the older younger brother vibe is more important than he and Louie think and the innocence factor matters too
If you look at Clive on top of the girl next to guy it just feels different and I don’t know why but like a tad more smarmy and not as playful
Although Clive is much much better in these tests than he was in last version.”
Penelope Cruz was offered $400,000 to be in the film
According to a July 2014 email from Sony’s Michael Marshall, the offer was “apparently acceptable to Penelope”. Cruz’s role in the film was confirmed on July 9.
Julia Roberts was involved at one point
The emails indicate that Julia Roberts was, at one point, being considered for a role in the film (it’s not clear exactly who she would be playing).
There may be a Richard Curtis-style ending
It seems that the final scene of the film went through quite a few changes, before the producers decided to end things on a feel-good note (as opposed to a “cow’s vagina” note).
“We pitched them an excellent ending tag that plays into the heart of the thing, almost like a Richard Curtis film ending compete with a song at nobbys and Dawns wedding rather than a reprise of being stuck in an animals vagina, this time a cows,” wrote producer Michael DeLuca in a May 2014 email.
“New ending super fun as mike said. Grimsby wedding in pub for Nobby and dawn with seb as best man. Some dance musical number maybe to a Neil diamond number (pay off he’s a bad Neil diamond impersonator who still doesn’t know words). Like slum dog but grimsby style,” replied Sony’s Andrea Giannetti.