This is the End hits UK cinemas today and if you missed it, you can watch our interview with Writer / Director Seth Rogen (who also stars in the movie) and his Producing / Writing / Directing partner Evan Goldberg right here.
In the movie, Seth Rogen gets to play a ‘deranged’ version of himself alongside numerous of his real-life and on-screen friends who equally play silly versions of their own selves. Just some of those actors include Jonah Hill, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Craig Robinson, Jason Segel, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Kevin Hart, Rihanna and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
On where the idea for This is The End first came from
This is the End takes a play on the numerous ‘end of the world’ movies that we’ve seen on the big screen recently and adds a light-hearted side to that bringing in some of the best comedians in the business. Seth explains below where the idea for the movie first came from (each video has the transcription below it):
Evan Goldberg (EG): Yeah. We were obsessed for a long time with the idea of actors playing themselves. It’s been like eight years. And then, on another note, our friend Jason Stone, who’s the executive producer of the film and it’s based on this short that we made with him – me and Jason – he was attending USC and he wanted to do a small film project and get Seth and Jay to come in and me to help out. So we all said, “Sure,” ‘cause we thought it would be fun and we shot in two days what we thought was the biggest thing we could do with the lowest budget, which was the apocalypse is happening, but these guys just will not leave the room they’re locked in.
Seth Rogen (SR): Yeah.
EG: And so, eventually, slowly but surely, it seemed like these two ideas should kind of be merged together for some unknown reason.
On why now was the right time to make This is The End
Seth Rogen explains why they decided that it was time to take on this style of movie and whether or not it happened to coincide with the Mayan calendar:
SR: It seems like, you know, just as movie fans, there’s been a ton of end-of-the-world movies just over the years. I mean, I think because of this Mayan thing, it’s been in people’s heads recently. But, you know, growing up there was INDEPENDENCE DAY and even before that, like OMEGA MAN and stuff like that. I mean, since “The Twilight Zone” they’ve been doing apocalyptic themes on film. But, honestly, to us, it’s been an idea we’ve been working on for like seven years. So it’s more coincidence that we were able to get it together at around the date the world was actually supposed to end.
EG: Yeah. People like Roland Emmerich can just come up with ideas right close to the Mayan…
SR: Yeah. Exactly. In 2011, he can pitch that and get it made. It takes us seven years. So, yeah, it took us a while to get it going and I think it’s just a coincidence. I think, overall, a lot of people have thoughts of the world ending, ‘cause it seems like the world’s probably going to end soon, I think, is one of the big reasons. But, yeah, I think that’s kind of what we’re tapping into and, to us, the more of these movies that were out there already and existed, the easier it was to make a comedy that’s kind of making fun of those conventions, to some degree.
On the actors playing themselves
Next we get to find out whether Seth or Evan had any trouble getting their friends to play themselves in the movie since the repercussions could be on them directly with people like Emma Watson playing a psycho.
EG: Yeah, they had a lot of fun with it. They all loved it. And we didn’t like mandate them characters. We would sit down and chat with them and come up with what they like –
SR: What they were comfortable with.
EV: The only person to have no notes is Michael Cera.
EV: For real.
SR: It was crazy. No, I think everyone’s playing such a warped version of themselves that I think, in a way, yeah, like it was just the opposite. I think everyone had a lot of fun kind of either playing into the way they’re perceived in the public or completely subverting the way they’re perceived in the public. And that was kind of the two directions most people would take it. But, yeah, they were actually – I actually think almost every single person we asked to do it, did it, and did something far more extreme than we ever could have imagined, generally speaking.
On pushing the envelope of the films they make
The next question relates to the type of movie that Rogen and Goldberg make and keeping their audiences happy making them more extreme, grosser, faster, funnier and whether there’s a pressure to continue in that vein:
EG: Yeah, we’re going to go on to snuff films afterwards.
SR: Yeah, exactly. It’s the last horizon, man. We think of it in terms of what entertains us, honestly. And I think it’s a dangerous game to start playing, like what does the audience – is this going to be shocking to them? Like I think, our own standards are probably harder, in some ways, to meet, ‘cause we’ve been the one actually executing all these movies. So if we’re on set and it feels like we’re doing something we’ve done before, it just feels not fun. But when we’re on set and it feels like, man, this is crazy, I can’t believe we’re pulling this off, those are like the greatest creative moments. And so this movie was full of them and I think this movie, in a lot of ways, is kind of the most original concept that we’ve had for one of our movies. I think, you know, the apocalyptic theme, coupled with the fact that everyone’s playing themselves, is like truly a very unprecedented-type concept to do. And so I think it was more for us, just so we felt, you know, creatively satisfied personally by doing something that we knew was really original and funny, hopefully, you know?
On working together as Directors
The press conference was one of the most fun and light-hearted I’ve ever been to and the next question relates to what makes Rogen and Goldberg work so well together…. their answer is fabulous! They then go onto more serious matters including how they work together in their writing process and how that then translates to the directing chair:
EG: We sleep in the same bed and we never go to bed angry.
SR: (OVERLAP) Exactly. Never go to bed angry, schedule date nights every week.
EG: We just have been doing this since we were thirteen together, so any fight that you can conceive of ever having with anybody in any professional relationship, we had when we were like sixteen.
SR: Yeah. We kind of worked our way through most of the kinks. I don’t know. Yeah. We are lucky. Like I know a lot of writing and creative partnerships that have broken up throughout the time we have not broken up. Yeah, I think it’s ‘cause we started so young…
EG: And built a genuine co-dependence…
EG: …cannot do as well without one another.
SR: I can’t leave him. I wish I could. I can’t. (LAUGHS) I need him.
SR: We literally shared the same director’s chair. That was the first thing. He sat on my lap. No, it was very similar to how we write together and produce together. It didn’t feel that different, honestly, from what we’d been doing.
EG: Yeah, when we write we have one computer and we sit at a table together and we do it all. And when we produce, it’s the same. There’s no like separation, so the same thing with directing, except he would go act every now and then.
On where the shots from the movie came from and the Directors that inspire them
Rogen and Goldberg also comment on directors that have inspired them in their movie-making process and where they have ‘borrowed’ shots from and how they watched movies like Apocalypse Now ahead of making This is the End to work out the friend dynamic they achieve:
SR: Borrowed’s a nice word. Yeah. Lots.
EG: Yeah, we’ve not come up with anything original in the entire process. The Coen Brothers, obviously, are really big for us.
SR: Quentin Tarantino’s really big to us. You know, Francis Ford Coppola. Oddly, we watched APOCALYPSE NOW a lot when going into the movie, just ‘cause it’s about a bunch of guys – they’re on a boat in that movie – but it’s just about six guys basically, kind of stuck in this one little thing as all this craziness is happening around them. I mean, who else? Tons of guys. Wes Anderson we’re big fans of. Yeah, we would kind of go through – and be like, yeah, Woody Allen, obviously, we really like. Yeah, I mean, we would kind of reference them at times but, honestly, we generally would just shoot whatever we had time for.
EG: And a touch of Judd Apatow.
SR: Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, and who we worked with. That’s not even counting the people we’ve worked with who we immensely steal from in every way.
On casting Emma Watson
As we’ve seen from the trailer, Emma Watson makes an appearance welding an axe, they guys talk about casting Emma in the role:
SR: Big HARRY POTTER fans. What can I say?
EG: One of the reasons is like, you know, someone like Mila Kunis you might have seen as maybe somebody who could run in circles with us, and for that role, we wanted someone who truly didn’t run in any similar circles and was like of a different…
SR: Yeah. We wanted someone specifically you didn’t associate with us and our kind of band of misfits, because we just thought it would be more funny and weird that you just don’t expect her to be there, which is exactly what’s happening. Honestly, the truth is, when you go to these weird parties sometimes, there is random people there like that and that was kind of also the idea – is like what if we wound up with one of the random people that just kind of happened to be at the party, like they were brought by a friend or something like that?
On Making the movie and selling to a studio
Finally we get to hear as to why the movie took so long to make:
EG: It was super-hard to sell.
SR: It took us a while, honestly, to conceptually round out the story, I think. I think it took us a long time to think of like where a movie like this could go, like what the third act would be, honestly. And then, scheduling it was not easy, as you could imagine, with all these guys who are pretty much in the same room the entire time. That wasn’t easy. And then just getting someone to let us make it was not entirely easy, but Sony – I mean, honestly, it’s amazing what they let us get away with. Like it’s really awesome and I could not be more grateful and shocked, honestly, that they let us make the movie they let us make. And I think it’s a lot to their credit that they let us do this, ‘cause there was a lot of indicators that this would not work, but it did, mostly ‘cause it hadn’t been done before on this scale. So I’m very grateful they let us do it.