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.
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 also 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 co-directors of This is the End Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg during group interviews on set. Check back in the coming days as we post further interviews - and make sure to read our full This is the End set visit report as well as interviews with cast members James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson.
Watch 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. Since the lines between fiction and reality are blurred, Rogen and Goldberg had to be careful about the balance between inside jokes and gags that would still make less-familiar moviegoers laugh - especially in the face of the apocalypse!
NOTE: The following is an abridged (and more concise) version of the interviews. You can read the entire transcript from our conversations with the co-directors by clicking the link below:
Responding to a question about inside-jokes, and the careful balance between real-life and fiction, the co-directors claim that while they're mindful of references that might be too obscure, they shoot everything. Then, after filming is complete, they use test audiences to help them figure out which lines to keep and which ones to cut:
Rogen: We let the audience tell us.
Goldberg: And it’s pretty apparent too when something goes too far.
Rogen: Yeah and it’s too inside but basically - people don’t laugh, we generally don’t use it. So as long… as long as the people are laughing at it, then we’ll use it and if there is something that seems like it’s too inside or something like that or just a reference the people don’t get, then, you know, we don’t want to like impose things on people. We let the audience tell us. You know, honestly, like even having you guys watch it was a testing ground for us to see what you guys respond to. I mean, it’s helpful for us. I mean we… this is going to sound scary, just relax [loud background noise]. Sorry you’re freaking [Laughing] Yeah, I mean, we show it to as many people as we can just to see how people react and see what people respond to and think is funny and what shit people don’t like basically.
The core concept behind This is the End has been around since 2007 - when Rogen, Goldberg, and Baruchel teamed with director Jason Stone for a short film version. The short was titled Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse and centered primarily on Baruchel and Rogen - though, even back then, the filmmakers had something much bigger in mind.
Check out the trailer for Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse below:
Considering This is the End is one of the most anticipated comedy films of Summer 2013, it's natural to question why it took so long for a feature version to gain traction. The core idea, celebrities stuck in a house together with an unfolding apocalypse outside, is bound to generate buzz - especially with a fan-favorite actor like Rogen in front of and behind the camera. However, according to the filmmakers, the project was always on their minds but they were waiting until they could ensure enough money to do the rich premise justice:
Goldberg: The basic idea was: What’s the biggest concept we could do at the cheapest price possible? And that lends itself to making a big movie. So, like we… we never wanted to do a small version but we would’ve. If it came down to it.
Rogen: I mean - it was our End of the World. I mean we made an End of the World movie in that short, for like literally like zero dollars. [Laughing] So that was kind of the idea, was to make an epic giant movie that, you know, was somewhat contained at times so you could kind of afford to spend your money on the big stuff when you needed it.
Anyone following our This is the End coverage knows that, previously, in talks with the cast, the actors opened-up about what it was like to play those "heightened versions" of themselves. In our interview with Rogen and Goldberg we made sure to ask the directors/writers how they approached creating fictional variations of their friends:
Goldberg: We definitely started off with everyone being full-blown assholes and then realized that it was too silly and we kind of give them each more realistic characters.
Rogen: Gave them different type of assholes! [Laughing]
Goldberg: Strengths and weaknesses.
Rogen: But not everyone is an asshole. I mean Jonah. Different people have different shades in the movie. I don’t think any of these guys are really playing themselves in any real way, but I think every character is rounded to some degree within the reality of the movie. I wouldn’t say, it’s necessarily like any of us, but everyone has their own little part to the story.
One key "part" of the story is Jay Baruchel, who despite numerous roles in fan-favorite comedies and TV series, was written as somewhat of a Hollywood outsider in This is the End. Baruchel's character is designed to be more relatable - serving as an entry point for the audience in a movie chock-full of high-power celebrity cameos. According to Rogen and Goldberg, Baruchel is a good example of how one of their real life friends is "rounded" within "the reality of the movie" - since the actor, more than the rest of the cast, is less inclined to Los Angeles living:
Rogen: He plays an actor but he does live in Montreal. He doesn’t live in Los Angeles - which is a part of the story, and that he was so adverse to the LA lifestyle that he literally left and works from Montreal - which is kind of true. So, that was just something that we used. He just kind of represents the old friends versus the new friends – that was the idea more than anything. And the fact that he doesn’t live in L.A. we thought was a good way to separate him from the other guys, and also make him a more relatable kind of eye into the movie. Because, in the movie, he doesn’t live the Hollywood lifestyle like, you know, Franco and some of the other characters.
Of course, the biggest question that many moviegoers have ahead of the film's release is: what causes the end of the world? If This is the End, as the title suggests, is Earth invaded by extraterrestrials, smited by God, or destroyed in a man-made nuclear apocalypse? The trailers for the film provide a few hints (monstrous creatures, a giant sinkhole, and beams of light) but out of context it's hard to say for certain what exactly is happening. Nevertheless, fans shouldn't expect Goldberg or Rogen to provide a clear-cut explanation ahead of the movie's debut:
Goldberg: I’m not really enlightening people as to exactly how that goes down, or what happens. It’s just the “End of the World.” [Laughing]
Rogen: Be nice to try to have some mystery. Other people seem to do it well.
That said, the co-directors did tease one (unlikely) possibility - after we pressed them for information on the quadrupedal creature that's seen running past a doorframe in the most recent trailer:
Rogen: You saw some creatures? Who knows if that’s a place-holder creature or what? Jay could be a demon this whole movie!
Check back here at Screen Rant for more on This is the End. As mentioned, we’ll continue to publish interviews with the cast and filmmakers in the coming weeks leading up to the movie'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’ Set Visit Report: Celebrity Deaths, Franco’s Crib, & More Blood!
- 'This is the End' Cast Interview: Apocalypse, Grisly Deaths, & Playing Themselves
- ‘This Is the End’ Red & Green Band Trailers: Celebrities Die by the Dozen
- ‘This Is the End’ Red Band Teaser Trailer: Raunchy Comedy Stars Take on the Apocalypse
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.