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:
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.
Here's what the rest of the cast had to say about their characters:
- McBride: 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 [...] 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.
- Hill: 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.
- 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.
- Baruchel: 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 [...] They definitely pounced on the self-righteous holier than thou aspects of me, so there’s a lot of preaching in this.
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.
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.