‘This is the End’ Cast Interview: Apocalypse, Grisly Deaths, & Playing Themselves

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This is the End Cast Interviews This is the End Cast Interview: Apocalypse, Grisly Deaths, & Playing Themselves

Moviegoers have put 2012, and the promised Mayan Apocalypse, behind them – but the end of the world is still a hot topic in Hollywood. Every year, summer blockbuster movies remind us that we’re only one alien invasion, city-sized meteor, 9.5 magnitude earthquake, or zombie virus outbreak away from total devastation. However, the summer of 2013 will see two comedy films attempt to make light of world-ending destruction. In August, Edgar Wright will release his latest Simon Pegg team-up The World’s End but first, co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are releasing This is the End (formerly titled Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse).

Taking a page from Judd Apatow’s improv-style of filmmaking, Rogen and Goldberg assembled a star-studded cast (and buckets of fake blood) for their apocalypse comedy. Anyone who has seen the trailers for This is the End knows that in the movie (which is based on their 2007 short) no A-lister is safe – as this apocalypse is going to claim the lives of fan-favorite celebrities like Rihanna and Michael Cera, among others.

Last year, we had a chance to chat with the cast of This is the End during group interviews on set – speaking to stars James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson. In addition, read our full This is the End set visit report and check back in the coming days as we post further interviews including directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

Check out the latest trailer for This is the End below:

While movie fans will no doubt be split on which apocalypse comedy they’re most excited to see this summer, only one of the films features fan-favorite actors and actresses playing heightened versions of their offscreen personas. While it’s unclear exactly how certain cameo characters will be portrayed (Emma Watson and Michael Cera obviously had fun playing-against-expectations), our interview with Franco, Hill, Baruchel, McBride, and Robinson gave us a good idea of what to expect from the main batch of friends.

NOTE: The following is an abridged (and more concise) version of the interviews. You can read the entire transcript from our conversations with the cast by clicking the links below:

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Speaking on what it’s like to play a version of themselves, the actors were quick to distance their onscreen characters from real-life personalities – especially James Franco. The actor is a central focus in This is the End – which regularly pokes fun at his style and taste in art. Most of the film takes place inside his fictional house – where, prior to the apocalypse, Franco was throwing a massive A-lister party. However, when asked about the differences between his everyday life and his onscreen character, the actor made sure to spell-out plenty of big screen changes:

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 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 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.

Elaborating on whether or not he throws big parties or hangs out with Rihanna (the actor answered “no” to both those questions), Franco further clarified differences between himself and his character:

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.

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Here’s what the rest of the cast had to say about their characters:

  • McBrideEverybody is definitely portrayed in a way that is a little more grotesque than they normally are. Seth oddly enough doesn’t really have any negative attributes in this movie. [Laughs] He comes off as courageous [...] My character has a lot of disbelief, but then it becomes a survival movie and so I would say that if this were like Night of the Living Dead, like I’m the dude that’s definitely causing trouble and freaking out and wanting to make a lot of the wrong choices in the situation.
  • HillThis whole movie is so complex, playing yourself and playing a version of yourself. It definitely feels like a cap on a certain era of all of our lives and coming up together. It’s cathartic in a lot of ways. I wanted to play a version of myself – and they’d originally written it differently – but someone who always saw the sympathy in a situation. Someone who was overly sympathetic to everything. And I poke fun at myself. Obviously everyone does in this movie. I went to dinner with an actor who was shooting out here the night before we started shooting, and he had a big diamond stud earring in his ear. So the day we started shooting I said I wanted to wear a big diamond in my ear and they thankfully let me do that.
  • Robinson: I don’t think I am as whiny. I cry a lot in this movie, for the silly factor, but I don’t think I am that cry babyish. I think I’d be more like, “Yeah, bring it mother fucker.” [...] No, you just be yourself and see what happens. But it’s still a collaboration, it’s still a character, it’s just a version… It’s definitely a lot of throwing out lines and seeing what works.
  • BaruchelYeah, we all are kind of. Like I think they take the aspects of our personalities that are most conducive to punchlines and story arcs and exacerbate them, so it’s a tightrope. There’s definitely some stuff I do or say in this movie that real Jay wouldn’t do or say but yeah, it’s strange. We are ourselves and we’re not. It’s kind of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-ish in that respect [...] They definitely pounced on the self-righteous holier than thou aspects of me, so there’s a lot of preaching in this.

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Despite their “heightened” versions of reality, Baruchel went on to say that he wasn’t too worried about being mistaken for the version of Jay that he’s depicting onscreen. The actor asserts that their primary goal is to serve the movie and, for that reason, they made a lot of changes – simplifying their personalities for less-in-the-know viewers:

At this point, who cares? Like people will infer what they infer, I’ve learned that a long time ago, and if I got worried about people assuming I’m like the characters I play I probably would have quit ten years ago. In those rare moments when I’m faced with that, I just remind myself that less than a quarter of actors can feed themselves from acting and I’ve been able to have a career doing that for 18 years, so that trumps any of that stereotyping issue [...] For example, one of the things we decided, I’m getting married in September—Seth is married and Danny is married—but none of us have any significant others in the movie because we just thought that would be entirely too much to explain and who the hell really cares? Nobody cares that I’m getting married [laughs].

So which of the characters is the closest representation of their respective actor? More than one of the stars indicated that Danny McBride, actor and This is the End character, had the most parallels. Though, it’s hard to know how McBride would feel about that assessment. Here’s what Robinson had to say about McBride’s character:

Probably Danny is most like himself. I mean everybody is silly and funny and sarcastic so if I were to answer that I would probably say Danny’s most like himself – and Jonah is probably as far away from himself.

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It’s worth noting, McBride claimed that Jonah was playing a “really nice guy” – so, considering Robinson’s assertion that Jonah is the “least like himself,” does that mean that Jonah Hill is actually a really un-nice guy? This isn’t an exact science, so probably not – especially based on the kind words Hill had for his directors and castmates:

My college experience was making movies with these guys. We all started out together and have grown and evolved in different ways. To have everyone assembled together for a movie like this, and have had them start together, is rare. I know this is my last comedy for the next year, year-and-a-half probably, so it feels like a cap to my early 20s. I don’t know how to put it without making it sound like it wasn’t important for anyone else, only me, but for these guys starting me out… it’s rare to get to work with this many people you’ve known for years and years and years [...] It’s fun, there’s no pressure or intensity, it’s just really a laugh.

Check back here at Screen Rant for more on This is the End – including co-director and star Seth Rogen talking about playing Seth Rogen. As mentioned, we’ll continue to publish interviews with the cast and filmmakers in the coming weeks leading up to the film’s release. However, if you’re eager for more This is the End info right now, make sure to check out our This is the End news archive - which includes the following featured articles along with much more:

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.

Next Page: The unabridged transcript of our conversation with the cast.

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Danny McBride

So who’s this “Danny McBride” guy you play?

McBride: Well we are playing… I’m playing myself, so I’m an international superstar playboy extraordinaire. Yeah, I guess we are all playing like heightened versions of ourselves, so yeah.

How do you prepare for something like that?

These guys did a really good job of just constructing these characters enough where you can kind of see the angles that they want you to explore. This movie doesn’t take a ton of preparation, I won’t lie. (Laughs)

They all have been working on this for a while developing the script. What was your first reaction when you read the script and you read what they wrote for you?

It’s insane. The script is absolutely nuts. It’s just another one of those movies where you get it and you’re just pleased that someone is willing to pay money for something so insane, you know? It’s unlike anything that I’ve seen before or worked on before.

How’s the dynamic now with Seth and Evan directing and really being the guys calling the shots in this movie?

They’ve transitioned into it just flawlessly, like it’s been super easy. All of these guys, from Jay to Franco to Craig, everyone has worked with these guys before and they know the routine and much improve is involved and so yeah, it’s just easy. You’re just in the scene and if you’re on a good run, Seth and Evan will encourage you to keep going or throw things your way if you’re going down the wrong path. It’s actually been very easy working with them as directors.

It seems like they set the table really well for you, in terms of knowing your strengths already.

Exactly. They know what you’re capable of and with that they know what they want to see from you that they haven’t seen form you before as well.

When you say “heightened” versions of yourselves, do you mean “more terrible?” It seems like you’re all not good people.

Some of us are good. You know, I don’t know… It’s like Jonah’s character for instance is very nice. He’s extremely nice and so they are variations on us and playing into the celebrity a little bit of each person. So they’re not necessarily terrible versions of us, but we are in very desperate situations and so sometimes the worst comes out of people.

We noticed when we watched the scene that you guys are adlibbing a lot and going off page, but when you have six of you going at once, is it really hard to get the adlibs in and get things in without…

You know, it’s one of those things where you really have to be really paying attention to what’s happening in a scene. You’ve got to be able to feel those rhythms of when someone is going for a run you’ve got to be able to step back and let them do it. It does become that game where it’s like you don’t want it to be like every single person is just trying to fill every blank space with a joke and I think all of these guys have been really good about that, like you can kind of sense when it’s somebody’s turn to do something.

How does the heightened version of you handle what’s going out?

My character has a lot of disbelief, but then it becomes a survival movie and so I would say that if this were like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD OR SOMETHING, like I’m the dude that’s definitely causing trouble and freaking out and wanting to make a lot of the wrong choices in the situation.

Obviously when you’re dealing with the end of the world things can get crazy and gory and stuff like that. Are you guys really going for that in terms of violence and the kinds of scares and things?

Yeah, it’s insanely violent. I’ve seen a lot of celebrities die very grisly deaths on this film, yeah.

Who has the grisliest death? Can you tell us? 

That, you know what… It’s a great question, because everyone definitely… A lot of people in this movie meet an end that I would not… I don’t think I would choose one over the other, from people having their faces ripped off to arms ripped off to terrible things being put inside of them. It’s just that, yeah.

Where does this movie start off? Is there a reason why you guys are all together?

This set that you’re on is supposed to be Franco’s house that he just built himself, he designed it himself and so this is set at his housewarming party.

So we can assume all of the other guests have died terrible deaths?

There was a little bit of a catastrophe and some people ran and some people weren’t so lucky and some people stayed in the house. I don’t want to ruin anything for you  guys.

So the people that are left behind are bad or good? People have different variations on what happens in the rapture.

It’s not clear what sort of apocalypse this is, you know. There are a lot of theories. Some say it might be the Chinese, some think it could be a series of well timed earthquakes and wild fires. Yeah, it’s not one hundred percent clear to us in the house what exact sort of apocalypse we are facing.

Do bath salts come up at all?

You know, just when we work the night shoots. When we work the night shoots the crew is on bath salts.

They destroy the crafts service table.

I understand this mainly takes place in the house. So when somebody goes outside, do we see that?

You know, a large portion of it takes place here, which is one of the things I really dug about it. I liked the idea that it was kind of like one of those old NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, where most of the survival is about the dynamic between the people who are stuck in the situation trying to figure out what’s going on and it sort of paints this horrible picture outside, but we do go outside in it, so yeah you definitely see what’s happened to Los Angeles for sure.

Is there a bit of claustrophobic cabin fever inspired fun?

For sure. You have a bunch of people in there that are supposed to be friends and as time wears on, those bonds quickly break and it just becomes every man for himself.

In terms of playing heightened versions of yourselves, who would you say is the furthest from the real version of themselves? And have they been having fun doing that, playing that far against them?

God, Jay, who do you think is the furthest from themselves? Jay is. Jay is the furthest from himself.

Jay: What?

McBride: You’re the furthest from yourself in this, right?

Jay: That’s my answer.

McBride: Yeah, it’s hard to tell. Everybody is definitely portrayed in a way that is a little more grotesque than they normally are. Seth oddly enough doesn’t really have any negative attributes in this movie. (Laughs) He comes off as courageous, bold… I don’t know.

How’d that happen? 

I’m not sure.

How have Seth and Evan been dividing the directing? Is it very obvious or is… Seth is obviously always on set.

Yeah, it’s kind of just hand in hand, like Seth will be in the seen and he will yell stuff and some times Evan is behind the monitors and he can see things that we maybe can’t see in the midst of the scene. So yeah, we get direction from both of them fairly even.

You have a good track record… you’re saying how you can’t really see how anyone would put up a lot of money for this, but you’ve done a lot of that kind of stuff.

Those are the kind of movies I like. (Laughs)

What’s the secret to getting up there and being insane?

You have to prep the movie very fast and just get them spending money before they know what they are doing. (Laughs)

What is it about the apocalypse that yields such comedic gold?

I just think it’s not a scenario that you usually associate with comedy and so I think it’s kind of ripe. I mean a lot of these situations that our characters are up against are things you would see if this was like 2012 or one of those disaster films, but it’s just a bunch of idiots dealing with it and so it just has… There’s a lot of new ground for comedy there.

Now in terms of them writing this, they had to hope they were getting everybody or did they come to you ahead of time and say, “You are doing this. This is what we want to do. Are you in, so we can put you in it?”

I had heard about this a few years ago they talked about it and then finally they just said they had finished the script last year and they sent it to me and I thought it was great and then they were fishing around for when was a window of time when everybody would be available and this kind of was the time period when everybody was going to… somehow the continents shifted and everyone could take off for these three months just to come here and have fun.

With film schedules and TV schedules and all sorts of stuff?

Yeah, but it’s been cool. I mean it’s been definitely a good time in New Orleans and it’s been fun to work with all of these guys again for sure. It’s been awesome.

Have you guys been able to enjoy the city?

Yes, big time. This is a great city to shoot in. We’ve loved it down here.

Was there any part of it that was LA for any of the establishing stuff?

I don’t know if they’re getting like plate shots of LA, but I’ve seen the stuff that’s supposed to take place in Los Angeles of what they have done here and they rebuilt like Melrose Ave. and I mean it looks awesome. It looks like Los Angeles. It’s great and they’ve done a really good job.

Can the six of you actually walk down Bourbon St? Or is it just chaos?

It depends on what time of the night it is. I was telling these guys like I went down to Bourbon St. when I first got here and was just like cruising around and I had gotten pretty deep in and I felt like I was in THE WALKIGN DEAD where it’s like one drunk guy who sensed I was there and then another and it was like “Fucking keep moving….” (Laughs)

Four of you were in PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, so have the four of you actually been in the same room, other than the junket, together since then?

I’m trying to think of when we have all been in the same room together. Independently we have all been together, but yeah this is union hasn’t happened… I think my wedding was the last time all four of us were together, yeah, in a swimming pool filled with piss.

Since you are playing yourself, I would assume that you take more ownership over the character than usual. When you were reading the script, was there anything where you’re like “I wouldn’t do this.”

No, it’s just funny when you read it and you read the fate of your character, you kind of invest a little more, like “Really? This is what happens of me? This is what these guys think of me?” Then you realize everybody gets shit on. (Laughs) Cool. Thank you guys. It was good to see you guys.

Next Page: The unabridged transcript of our conversation with Jonah Hill.

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Jonah Hill

Danny said you are the nicest one out of the group who are trapped. How do you handle a crisis like this?

Jonah Hill: I don’t know. This whole movie is so complex, playing yourself and playing a version of yourself. It definitely feels like a cap on a certain era of all of our lives and coming up together. It’s cathartic in a lot of ways. I wanted to play a version of myself – and they’d originally written it differently – but someone who always saw the sympathy in a situation. Someone who was overly sympathetic to everything. And I poke fun at myself. Obviously everyone does in this movie. I went to dinner with an actor who was shooting out here the night before we started shooting, and he had a big diamond stud earring in his ear. So the day we started shooting I said I wanted to wear a big diamond in my ear and they thankfully let me do that.

At what point did you know you wanted to be in the movie, and at what point did you first read the script and see their version of you?

They asked me maybe a year ago? I’m not really good at time, I always have to go by movie. It was right after I finished Jump Street, I think. I came over to Seth’s house and they discussed it with me. There are a few people in my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with who I would do anything for and Seth and Evan are those guys. If they ask me to show up, I show up. It doesn’t really matter what it is. They’ve been great friends and I definitely will always be there to support those guys specifically. They deserve all the respect they have.

How has the dynamic of your friendship changed seeing these guys as bosses on set calling all the shots?

When I was younger they obviously gave me my big break, them and Judd and Mottola with Superbad. They were running the show back then, too, so it’s not like this feels like a boss-employee relationship like it has on other films. We’re close friends in real life. The next couple of jobs I have coming up I’m definitely going in as employer-employee, and Seth and Evan don’t treat anyone in that way. They don’t treat people like they’re their bosses, which is why people love working with them so much.

You say this is a cap to a period in your lives, do you feel like there’s something changing now that makes it different from when it was Jay and Seth’s short? 

I mean for me personally, I can’t speak for anyone else. My college experience was making movies with these guys. We all started out together and have grown and evolved in different ways. To have everyone assembled together for a movie like this, and have had them start together, is rare. I know this is my last comedy for the next year, year-and-a-half probably, so it feels like a cap to my early 20s. I don’t know how to put it without making it sound like it wasn’t important for anyone else, only me, but for these guys starting me out…it’s rare to get to work with this many people you’ve known for years and years and years. The next three things I’m doing are more hardcore, emotionally, and this is really fun. It’s cathartic and fun, there’s no other adjective I have for it. It’s fun, there’s no pressure or intensity, it’s just really a laugh.

When they asked you to do it did they already have you in the script?

You’d have to ask them. The first script I read, I imagine they wrote it for these guys. I just kind of showed up. They were like, “Hey, you want to come play yourself?” and I said sure! I’d do anything for these guys.

How different is the dynamic from Knocked Up, where you and Jay and Seth had a lot of scenes?

That was like my first bigger movie role, I think. Well, I had done a modern movie classic called Accepted before that – I think it’s on the AFI 100 list, if you’ve never seen it – but I don’t know. I was younger and learning about having bigger parts and movies and learning from Judd and Seth and those guys. I really like John Cassavetes movies and how it’s just people hanging out and talking. That’s why Knocked Up, when those scenes were really good, just felt like people were hanging out and you were kind of spying on them in a weird way. I think in this movie, too, I try to emulate the vibe of whatever is going on at the time, so the talking and joking around with one another almost right up until they yell action fuels the casualness of the scene and the strong relationships you have with the people in the movie. These people are supposed to know each other really well.

Next Page: The unabridged transcript of our conversation with Craig Robinson.

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Craig Robinson

So what happens [after you go outside], do you get your head ripped off?

Craig Robinson: Haha. You’ll have to see.

It’s kind of bullshit, you have to go out there but you also don’t get in on the jokes. They get to do all the jokes at your expense.

I know, right? It’s been kind of… it’s so much improv going on, so it’s kind of jump in where you can kind-of-thing.

Obviously a lot of that isn’t on the page, so when you look at the script for a scene like that… Does it says Craig draws the short stick and he goes outside–

Says Craig draws the short stick, the burn match, and that’s really all it is. So it says, he gives the rules and then you are supposed to hear me go, “No!” So that was it and then all that other stuff was added on.

We know you are playing yourself in the movie, is that your own wardrobe?

Actually yes, this is my catch phrase in my comedy act. The way this came about, I had a similar t-shirt on at one of the parties that these guys throw, this was a few years back and they remembered it, and they wanted us all to be as close to our actual selves as possible. Literally, some days I have worn these actual jeans to set and then switched into them, into these actual jeans. It’s the most comfortable I’ve probably been [on-set].

[About the towel]

They had these made, but this is also something that, I usually always carry a towel with me because I sweat a lot, I just like to have a towel, like Linus or somebody. One time my manager gave me a birthday gift, some monogrammed towels, and they said different things on them, but one of them was Mr. Robinson, and I happened to have it with me on the day that I went for a fitting and they were like, ‘Oh we love this, yes make that happen.’

When did you first find out that they were making this movie and that they wanted you in it, and when did you first read the script?

Oh it was… everyone said I was the first one to say, I’m in. I read it way back, like yeah, let’s do this. I don’t know if this had been done with people just, everybody’s using their real names and stuff like that, so I thought it was ambitious and exciting.

Where might this version in the movie vary from the real version of you under these circumstances?

I don’t think I am as whiny. I cry a lot in this movie, for the silly factor, but I don’t think I am that cry babyish. I think I’d be more like, “Yeah, bring it mother fucker.”

Do you prepare for something like that, I mean to play yourself.

No, you just be yourself and see what happens. But it’s still a collaboration, it’s still a character, it’s just a version… It’s definitely a lot of throwing out lines and seeing what works.

Out of the guys, who is the most like themselves, who’s the version the most from how you know them.

Probably Danny is more like himself. I don’t know. I mean everybody is silly and funny and sarcastic so if I were to answer that I would probably say Danny’s most like himself and Jonah is probably as far away from himself.

That’s funny because Danny said that he was playing a really nice guy, so I don’t know.

Yeah exactly, well Jonah is trying to appease everybody kind-of-thing.

Do you guys get to hang out a lot off set, have you gotten to enjoy New Orleans?

We definitely done some hanging, seen some suns come up, like… One night we went to the House of Blues, we went at 2:30 and just hung out and then everyone sharpened themselves up… We had some dinners, went on a swamp tour. You know, New Orleans, you got to get your rhythm, this town will exhaust you, but it’s been fun every night.

So what exactly is going on outside?

What do you mean, oh in the movie? There is… it’s chaos.

Is it like [an attack or something] or people fighting in the streets and stuff?

Well I don’t get to see what happens outside, except for the one scene, and it’s just this earthquake or something takes place and it’s just…

So it’s more like pandemonium from the people.

There’s definitely some pandemonium involved.

It looks like there’s fires buring outside the house.

Oh yeah yeah, I think there is some fire out there as well.

So how does this amount of improv, you have done improv with other stuff before, but this seems like the entire scene is just made up on the spot. Is this more improv than you have done or is it par for course?

Um, I did a movie where it was I think even more improv, but this is probably just as much though, so yeah I’m getting used to it.

Do you guys do any physical effects during the initial as-things-go-down, as the party gets disrupted and stuff like that, are there like big physical gags, sets coming apart, it, destroyed, stuff like that?

Oh yeah there are definitely some gigantic physical gags.

So when you are doing that sort of thing, is there still improv in the middle of that, or is because it’s so technical do you not.

Yes.  Improv is always encouraged, and they’ll get it, no matter what, these guys are directing their asses off. They get everything, and whatever comes out of their brains, is getting [caught on film].

I thought it was interesting that scene as we have been watching it, it seems to get more fine and focused and more giving sense, like Seth’s giving lines, is that generally how it’s been going?

That is exactly how it has been going. Everybody gets to jump in where they fit in.

Is there ever a scene where you are filming with something that is actually scripted?

Well we have it scripted, but it always runs off like that, like always. There is never a just do that, do what is on the page and go. It’s always more.

How was working out with Seth Rogen [as a director]?

It’s cool, it’s like hanging out with your buddy, just trying out ideas. Except they have a budget and you got trailers. It’s awesome.

Four of you did Pineapple Express, has this been a very different experience doing this four years after Pineapple Express?

Pineapple was different just cause it was David Gordon Green directing. I remember, I wasn’t as familiar with the crew as I am now, so it wasn’t as much… I remember a scene where Seth and Franco were my prisoners and then I would go back and forth and I got to see a little bit of how they were working with each other because they had actually been working together since they were kids, so I got to see how they bond and work and were kind of in each other’s brain. It was kind of cool, so that was my kind of witnessing it and of course now I am a part of it.

I see that you call each other by first names, but James Franco, you call him Franco?

Yes.

Do you have any explanation as to why you call him Franco?

Yeah, it just sticks with me, Franco. I tend to do that sometimes, call people by last names.

Jonah or Jay mentioned that they poke fun of you for things, do they poke fun at you about The Office at all, or what’s the main thing that they poke fun of you about?

Nothing is off limits… nothing is off limits. Everybody is getting skewered, kind of, in this movie so… But yeah we had some Office moments, in fact I poked fun of myself in a scene that comes after this when I go outside and I’m like what’s going on, “It’s me, Daryl from The Office.” That happened.

Next Page: The unabridged transcript of our conversation with Jay Baruchel.

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Jay Baruchel

What are you reading? Anything good?

Jay Baruchel: I think it’s good. Book 2 of a 12 book series, the Necroscope series by Brian Lumley.

Sounds intense.

It’s my bag. It’s vampires and psychics and spies and all sorts of crazy nonsense.

We’ll ask you the same questions we just asked Danny and it’ll be like “The Newlywed Game” and we’ll see if you give the same answers. This was originally going to be “Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse” so you knew about this a long time ago. When was the first time you read the script and knew what was going to happen…

In this? In the feature incarnation of it? I probably read the first draft of it like last spring, about a year ago, yeah, and it’s been six, seven years that I’ve been waiting for this thing to finally get going and I’m still blown away that people think our little short can be a movie, so it’s pretty neat to see it come to fruition.

How did whole thing begin? How did the short happen?

The short happened because a friend of ours named Jason Stone, who is over there at video village. He was graduating from USC and he kind of wanted a calling card for potential directing gigs so he and Evan came up with this silly idea of me and Seth being stuck in an apartment together and just bitching at each other, so we went to USC and shot for two days on this awesome set that these kids built and yeah, that was it.

Was there ever a point when the feature version was just going to be the two of you or was it always going to be more people?

Oh, I have no idea. Yeah. I think maybe at the very beginning, but I think that would have limited the scope of thething and the voices that could be in it. I think just him and I made sense for seven minutes or a trailer but I think for a whole movie people would probably get sick of just the two of us…

Just getting ready for you to be killed off.

That’s exactly right and that’s the last thing we want. Yeah, I mean, the two of us in a house for two hours is not nearly as entertaining as however many of us there are… five? Six? Five? Six? Six!

Meeting with you and Seth Rogen and James Franco, but what was Rihanna doing in that meeting? She’s in one of thescenes, right?

Yeah, she comes as a guest to the party. There’s a lot of famous people at the party. There’s a party at Franco’s house that starts it off so she’s just one of the guests.

Does she meet a grisly death? Danny was telling us about some grisly deaths.

Why would you think I would give that away? (Laughter)

I know you’re a horror fan so have you been excited when they were shooting people dying? Have you been here the whole time even when you don’t have to shoot?

No, especially because some of the people involved are KNB and I’ve been a fan of all the shit that they’ve worked with because I was a big Fangoria kid, all through high school, I still am a Fangoria guy and I’m a little versed in their resumes, I’ve seen “Wishmaster” even, so yeah, it’s the best when I get to see all sorts of arterial spray and all sorts of gross shit done. Yeah, I’m a kid in the candy store.

Danny says you play heightened versions of yourselves.

Yeah.

So how close would you say you’re sticking to Jay, are you playing a douchier version of yourself?

Yeah, we all are kind of. Like I think they take the aspects of our personalities that are most conducive to punchlines and story arcs and exacerbate them, so it’s a tightrope. There’s definitely some stuff I do or say in this movie that real Jay wouldn’t do or say but yeah, it’s strange. We are ourselves and we’re not. It’s kind of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-ish in that respect.

Is it hard to present yourself as yourself and have a different of yourself?

I mean, it’s weird. I come up against conscience issues, like “How did I get here?” but I’m Jay in name, but for example, one of the things we decided, because I’m getting married in September—Seth is married and Danny is married—but none of us have any significant others in this because we just thought that would be entirely too much to explain and who the hell really cares? Nobody cares that I’m getting married so… (laughter) so yeah, it’s weird little things like that, so yeah, it’s a bit of a tightrope and it’s definitely easier playing myself because I get to say whatever I’d say for the most part.

What is the worst of yourself that comes out under this intense pressure of the end of the world?

Well, without giving too much away, they definitely pounced on the self-righteous holier than thou aspects of me, so there’s a lot of preaching in this.

In terms of authorship, you guys have all come to the point where you’re being responsible for your own films. “Goon” last year was something you were heavily involved in getting made and writing and it feels like you’re getting more personal in what you’re doing. Is that something that you feel on this film is an expression of the Seth and Evan you’ve known for a long time and you’re seeing more of them in what they’re doing?

I mean, yeah. I mean, not in the sense of how Seth is playing himself persé but in the sense of the themes of the movie and what they want to show the world. This flick is their voice, 150%, you know. I mean, it’s obviously a collaboration—that’s not just lip service—but they encourage it. You guys will see that they foster that atmosphere. That being said, this is Seth and Evan effectively given a blank slate to do whatever they want with. I won’t go so far as to say carte blanche but damn near close, as close as they’ve come so far. As a friend and a fan of theirs, that’s kind of exciting.

I’m sure a lot of people assume that you’re a lot like the characters you play but how difficult is it to play a person that is yourself without making them assume this is you?

At this point, who the fuck cares? Like people will infer what they infer, I’ve learned that a long time ago, and if I got worried about people assuming I’m like the characters I play I probably would have quit ten years ago. In those rare moments when I’m faced with that, I just remind myself that less than a quarter of actors can feed themselves from acting and I’ve been able to have a career doing that for 18 years, so that trumps any of that stereotyping issue.

Is there any reference to any of the other movies you’ve guys done? Do you throw out names of movies you’ve done?

Oh, yeah, definitely. There’s a lot of shitting on each other’s work in this movie. (laughter) Indeed, indeed, a fair bit, yeah.

When you make a film with all of your friends, does the line between work and play get blurred? Does someone have to reel you guys in at times?

Yeah, probably, yeah. It can probably get a bit too colloquial sometimes but no, I’d be lying if I said I really want to work for strangers. Sometimes you have to I guess and that’s part and parcel doing any job but anybody would prefer to work with people they’ve known a long time so…

Do you have input into your costumes since you’re playing yourselves? Are you wearing what you would normally wear?

I’m wearing the studio-approved version of what I would wear. (Laughter)

That’s fair. It’s close enough.

It’s close enough. Yeah, exactly, close enough. Zombie vs. Shark.

What about shitting on each other’s work? So has anyone said, “You can’t shit on a Sony movie?”

Oh, no, surprisingly not at all, no. Nothing seems to be sacred here. We’re just blaspheming constantly. Not at all.The sky’s the limit. The only concern with that stuff is for my money, the average working class person that buys tickets probably couldn’t care less about shit like that so as long as it’s funny but nobody goes to the movies to see a movie about people talking about movies, so aside from that, no, we’ve been able to say whatever we want.

Next Page: The unabridged transcript of our conversation with James Franco.

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

James Franco

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?

No.

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.

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TAGS: This Is the End

3 Comments

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  1. This movie looks freakin hilarious. Can’t Wait.

  2. Very excited for this film. So excited that I may have to come back and read the unabridged transcript with the cast when I have more time.

  3. If you think this movie looks hilarious then you’re in for a treat because it’s a freaking riot! I was lucky enough to screen it last year and I can’t wait to see it again and add it to my collection some day.

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