Now that we can safely look back on the 2012 non-apocalypse from the comfort of 2013, directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen are ready to deliver a humorous look at what could have been – from the perspective of a not-so-down to earth group of Hollywood stars. Based on the 2007 short film, Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse, Goldberg and Rogen have been hard at work on a feature length take on the story – chock-full of celebrity cameos, CGI effects, and outrageous comedy moments.
However, long before the official titling of This is the End, and six months before the impending Mayan apocalypse, we attended a set visit event when “The End of the World” was still shooting outside of New Orleans. The filmmakers had built a near-to-full size house interior on a Louisiana sound-stage, where a majority of the film would take place – since, as Rogen claimed, “It’s literally cheaper to construct Melrose in a parking lot here than to film on actual Melrose.”
That said, with other competing “end of the world” movies already out (Steve Carell’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) or set for a 2013 release (Simon Pegg’s The World’s End), expectations for Goldberg and Rogen’s film are running high – especially since they’ve been extremely tight-lipped about the supernatural creatures and events that will claim the lives of so many Hollywood stars in This is the End.
If you haven’t seen it yet (or want to watch the insanity again), check out the Red-Band trailer for This is the End below:
Leading up to This is the End‘s June 12, 2013 release, we’ll be posting individual interviews with the film’s cast and crew, including: directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen as well as stars James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson. Stay tuned for those but, in addition to roundtable interviews with the filmmakers and cast, we toured the main This is the End set – aka James Franco’s fictional Hollywood home. Aside from scattered scenes outside of the house in the film’s first and third act, most of This is the End occurs inside the Franco’s place – as the group of friends attempt to wait-out the supernatural occurrences tearing Los Angeles (and possibly the world) apart.
We toured the halls of the fake Franco abode – which was beginning to show signs of post-apocalyptic wear and tear. As seen in the early moments of the trailer, the posh living room is a fitting spot to party with Hollywood elites: spacious modern architecture and lavish furnishings – complete with expensive paintings, film one-sheet posters, and abstract sculptures. However, after an enormous sinkhole opens up – complete with nondescript creatures (who kill-off a number of Hollywood stars), the guys barricade themselves inside the house, smashing-up Franco’s art collection, tools, toys, and other decorations in an effort to secure the home from intruders.
At the time of our visit, the house was a mess – skateboards and splintered works of art haphazardly nailed or duct-taped over windows and doors. It was a fitting visual since, at that point in the film, the group is holed up with no intention of leaving – until they run out of food and water. Inside the New Orleans sound stage, the actors spent a significant portion of the day shooting a “short straw” scene – drawing matches to see who would have to venture out for bottled water. We won’t spoil which of the cast members is charged with stepping into the wilds of burning L.A. – but will say that a follow-up sequence plays humorous homage to the rope scene in Frank Darabont’s The Mist.
While Judd Apatow is not directly involved with This is the End, his influence is apparent – as a number of his frequent collaborators are working in front of and behind the cameras. As a result, dialogue is highly improvisational. The guys start with core plot details and test out new one-liners with each take – building on jokes that are especially funny as they flesh out the placeholder script with memorable dialogue and actions.
Speaking about their filmmaking process, Rogen gave credit to the cast and explained why adherence to a script is less important than on-set spontaneity.
Rogen: I mean, we have a script, yeah. I’m sure we got a take of it here and there but it’s so silly to have all these guys in a movie together and not let them riff-off each other. You know, that was always our plan. It’s not that different then from capturing stunts at times. We put as many cameras on it as we can and we hope something f***ing awesome is going to happen – and that is kind of what it’s like. So it would be silly for us to be too, strict with the lines because these guys – most of them are movie writers in their own rights. So it’s silly to not get their ideas.
[Usually] the director won’t just suddenly say like, “Throw out all the f***ing lines go crazy!” But since we’re both [director and writer], we can do that, which is nice and there have been some scenes that we’ve done one take of and it’s like “This isn’t right” and we’ll literally, completely, re-write all of it in a few minutes. Or we’ll just improvise for an hour and see if something better comes up and it usually does and then we’ll just go with that version.