WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was offered a role in the soon-to-be-released “Zoolander 2” movie and nearly signed on before declining director Ben Stiller’s offer due to security reasons.
“I had a conversation with him about it. He almost said yes,” Mr. Stiller said at a promotional event for the forthcoming film in Sydney, Australiaon Tuesday.
“There were a lot of people we reached out for. Obviously, not everybody said yes. But there were a lot of people that I was surprised that we got, too,” Mr. Stiller said, as reported by News Corp Australia.
“There were a lot of people we reached out for. Obviously, not everybody said yes. But there were a lot of people that I was surprised that we got, too,” he added.
The Emmy Award winner didn’t elaborate further as to why the WikiLeaks founder was unable to commit, but Mr. Assange’s extracurricular activities have been largely restricted since 2012 when he entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London amid being investigated by Swedish prosecutors for accusations of sexual misconduct.
“Julian’s a fan of Ben’s films. The two spoke for half an hour but Julian’s security situation precluded the filming proposed,” WikiLeaks said in a statement to The Washington Times on Wednesday, “So no [Assange] cameo until his freedom and Zoolander 3.”
Though not formally charged with any crime, Mr. Assange said previously that he fears any attempt to interrogate him could result in his extradition to the United States, where he then risks being tried for his part in publishing classified government documents through his website.
Last March, Mr. Stiller admitted that he had been eyeing the WikiLeaks editor for a cameo role in the follow-up to his 2001 fashion industry spoof.
“He wanted to be in it, but we couldn’t figure out how to do it,” he said at the time. “I wanted to have him appear via satellite in the movie from the Ecuadorian Embassy. He had some issues regarding the charges against him.”
Absent Mr. Assange, “Zoolander 2” sequel is slated to contain cameo appearances from Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, among others. The film is scheduled to be released in U.S. theaters starting Feb. 12.
In 2012, Mr. Assange appeared as himself in the animated TV show “The Simpsons.”
Earlier this month, Ecuador’s foreign minister said that Quito will “cooperate with the Swedish authorities” and could soon allow Mr. Assange to be interviewed over the rape accusations.