We were asking Jay earlier, are his clothes modeled on what he would normally wear. So we have to ask you too, is this what you would normally wear?
James Franco: You actually got me on the one day where it’s the ridiculous outfit. This is not anything I’ve ever worn. Because it’s my place i actually have the most changes, because all my clothes are here at the house. This I guess was designed because it’s going to be something that Seth Rogen wears later, so I guess it’s something really silly. I’ve never worn anything like this.
So when the party starts you’re wearing something more formal?
Yeah, when the party starts I’m wearing stuff that I have actually worn– like a Gucci sweater, these shoes that are actually my shoes. Actually I guess old man shoes called Mephistos that I like, I guess they’re supposed to be good for your back. But I just like them, I like how they look, I like how they feel. Danny Glicker, the costume designer, asked if they could use mine, so I just gave them to the movie.
We’ve been talking a lot to everybody about the variations of themselves that they’re playing. How is the version of you that’s inside the house different from you in real life?
Um, I think it’s very different. When we started talking about it in pre-production, they said “You’re sort of playing the version of yourself that’s the most distant from you who you are.” I think part of that– I don’t know, part of that has to do with the dynamics they need for the film. There are aspects of me, like I’m an actor, I like art, I like Seth, that the character shares, but it’s pushed to a goofy extreme. The character’s, y’know, stupider, he’s got the emotional level of a 13-year-old. They all do, I think. And you know, he’s just a little shallower than I like to think that I am.
Did these guys give you any insight as to why they set the movie at your house, specifically?
I’m not quite sure why it’s at my house. That’s the other thing, we’re supposed to be in my big mansion, but I don’t have a house. I live in an apartment in New York, a pretty small one, on the Lower East Side. I guess of all of our group, our friends, maybe I’ve branched out into other kinds of movies, so maybe I am the easiest to classify as the Hollywood guy with a big mansion.
You built it with the Spider-Man money?
I guess. I’m sure Seth has made more money than I have.
The joke is that you designed and built the house yourself, which seems like part of the humor. Would you design a house like this?
Would I design a house like this? No. I actually don’t like houses. I’ve bought a couple of houses over the years and I’ve always sold them. I found I don’t like houses, I like apartments, I like having people around. I wouldn’t build this house, no.
Do you have parties like this?
Rihanna doesn’t normally come over?
No. It’s also, yeah, that’s not really like me. No, I don’t throw parties.
Are there weird certain details in the house that are supposed to be unique to you? Like hidden panels.
Yeah, one of the ideas was that this version of me collects art. And at one point I did collect art. I did sell a lot of it because I went back to school and I wasn’t doing as many movies as I did before. One way to pay for 2 to 4 years of not working very much was to sell some of the art. But they had this idea, and then they asked me in pre-production if I had any artists that I thought would be cool to include. And I thought, yeah, if they go with the big names, like Richard France or they have Shepard Fairey in there. All it would do is say “OK, this character likes contemporary art.” So I thought, why don’t they include an artist who kind of walks the line of being a very serious contemporary artist but also have humor in his work and also is interested in the work that Seth Rogen does. So there’s this painter named Josh Smith, whose work is pretty humorous. I brought him on board, I had met him through some other artists and then he was a friend of Harmony Korine’s, and he came out to the set of Spring Breakers that I was working on. I came up with the idea that we would do a lot of the paintings together. We came out here in pre-production and painted for two days together. That way we could make paintings that were actually referencing the people in the movie. We made a Pineapple Express painting, we made a Freaks painting and a Geeks painting. We made– Josh normally does name paintings, where he uses his name as a form, so we used that idea but turned it into name paintings of Seth’s name and my name. In that way there was a whole ‘mother level to the paintings, and we could talk about them and reference them in the scenes. So it wasn’t just this general idea of contemporary art. Art now is kind of commenting on the movie, we can comment on the art, it’s all kind of tied together.
You haven’t been afraid of making meta-textual jokes, in side projects and things you’ve done. This seems like the sort of ultimate manifestation of that, having all of you guys together, having all of you guys play riffs on yourself. Is this a capper, or is it just one more way to play with public persona?
This is I think unusual because it’s being done in a mainstream, commercial movie. But I think other shows, like reality shows, like the Osbournes pushed it further than what we’re doing, the Kardashians push it further than what we’re doing. You think you’re getting a real taste of who they are. I hope nobody watches this and thinks “Oh, that’s what they’re really like.” There are ways to push it further. This is just, this is new because of the commercial film frame and bringing it into a heavy effects kind of film. LIke if the Kardashians suddenly were fighting aliens or something like that, sorta like that.
No one dies on the Kardashians.
For me that’s a big unknown. The big trick, and one thing that Seth and Evan are so good at, is bridging different genres, making them work tonally. Here they’re certainly doing that again. With Pineapple Express, like, an action stoner movie comedy. Here it’s a bunch of things. You’ve got aspects of reality shows, disaster movies, horror movies, comedies. But then the other aspect that you have is playing real people that then start dying. For me that is a big unknown. How is that going to read. I’m sure they’ll pull it off, but I think it’s a very tricky thing to do.
This is the End releases on June 12, 2013.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on This is the End as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.