Seth Rogen talks This is the End
By Anne Brodie Jun 7, 2013, 19:28 GMT
Among the huge cast of famous bit players are Mindy Kahling, Micheal Cera, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, even Rihanna. The film is an impressive combustion of the some of the top comedy in entertainment today and the subject matter is absolutely unique and the best part is that each actor plays himself.
We spoke with creator, writer, co-director and star Seth Rogen at the F-Stop Nightclub in Toronto:
M&C: The Book of Revelations slash Rapture story line is brilliant if a tad risky.
Rogen: We just thought it was funny. People think as Jews were going to be stuck here and what will we do if that happens to all these Jews? That was the original thing. You get f****d and then it became “What if they were right, if Revelations was right? No one can get mad at us because it’s just going to happen. Based on the book by God”.
It was almost the craziest part of the movie and we expected to meet the most resistance on it, that we’re tackling religion head on. The studio didn’t say a thing about that, because every conversation was about the guys playing themselves.
We always wanted it to be the Christian apocalypse. We just found people more than we expected wrapped up in the mystery of what it was. It became a fun thing that had weight.
M&C: How did you get these leads that are at the top of their game and presumably busy?
Rogen: We are the only people who can get these six guys. Some people we couldn’t get through scheduling, like Liz Banks and Edward Norton and one by one we tackled bits, six leads and some bits. We wanted it too feel organic, like a real party where sometimes there are people who you don’t know why they’re there.
Like a Halloween party I had where Quentin Tarantino was there and David O. Russell and I’m like “What? I’ve never even met these people”. We wanted to add that element where it feels organic and real but there are curveballs.
We wanted it to seem generationally real, even if in reality fifty year old dudes show up. We wanted it to seem real and see inside a possible version of what these parties are like, basically.
M&C: Each actor plays himself and improvised but what if they wanted to do something that wasn’t right for the movie? They can just say “But I’m playing me”?
Rogen: It’s a delicate balance but we let them do it. Sometimes what you lose in letting an actor do what he wants, you gain in not shutting them down creatively. It’s kind of like athletes. You have to manipulate them and I have to find what gets the best performance. Shutting people down creatively doesn’t work so well. You want to create an environment where we’re fostering ideas and not rejecting them. Sometimes you just let them do what they want.
Jay kept doing dry heaves and I told him “We’re not going to use it, man” and he’d say “Oh you’re using it!” We never did but we let him keep doing it. The crew kept laughing and that’s what kept him going. We should make a “gag” gag reel.
M&C: How did you determine the path for each character?
Rogen: Jonah becomes the demon and Franco almost goes to heaven but he doesn’t. We always knew Jonah would get raped by a demon and possessed. We were very honest. This is where we want it to end. He was fine with it, working backwards from there and figuring out what’s the most interesting way to get there.
He was an asshole from the beginning so it’s the comeuppance. And then Jonah said “What if I’m someone you can’t tell I’m not nice, I’m just f*****g with everyone?” It was Franco’s idea that he was almost redeemed and is not. Danny eats him and it doesn’t work out.
Franco said “I think the audience wants me to live” and we said “That’s why you have to die”. They guys had a lot of input. They just wanted to be interesting.
M&C: Did everyone get along?
Rogen: They guys were sometimes more antagonistic than we wanted, often. We had to stop Jonah and Franco from going at each other and they are supposed to like each together.
We get it, you can make Moneyball jokes all day but in this movie you wouldn’t do it. People just get wrapped up in the joy of slamming each other’s movies.
M&C: Who has the thickest skin?
Rogen: Definitely Franco. The more you think it might insult him, the more it entertains him, like “Why don’t we do an art project about bit about how stupid your artwork is?” And he’d go “Great!” You can’t faze him. He likes all of it.
M&C: Franco did all the artwork for the film, what doesn’t he do? How do you feel about his vast range of interests?
Rogen: Great! The awesomeness, weirdest, craziest thing anyone’s ever done. I think it’s awesome. He seems to be in control of it. People are fascinated by it and he’s not propelled for any reason other than he genuinely was into it. He has always been into the art stuff.
When I met him when I was 16 he was into it. I have a painting from him that he did in 1998. It’s nothing new, and he’s just more famous, and there’s more attention. It’s always been him. If you’re friends with him, it’s not weird, and it’s entertaining how it is perceived.
M&C: He’s a polymath and I’ll bet he can garden and cook and speak Japanese.
Rogen: I’ll bet anything he can’t cook. I don’t think he can use a microwave.
M&C: How much did you take from the actors from watching them onset?
Rogen: We made actor’s lounge built next to the dressing rooms and asked each guy what one thing they wanted for it. Craig wanted a pool table, Jonah wanted a comfy chair and these four magazines, Jay the latest hockey games and TV, Danny said make sure there’s a little beer in the fridge, and there was a painting corner for Franco.
Most of the artwork in the movie he painted. What happened in that rec room was what was happening in the film. “Really? Can you just do this ten feet over that way?” They would have conversations in that room and we would film it three days later.
It was weird in that regard and surreal how Meta the movie would get. Always another weird layer.
M&C: Co-directing yourself and these actors who have their own strong styles must have been strange.
Rogen: We worked with a lot of these guys before and honestly a lot of we developed sensibilities they do or don’t have with us. We all went to the same movie making college, the first movies, especially comedies we made where together.
Pineapple Express was Franco’s first movie, we were in Superbad, Craig and Danny were in Pineapple Express so I think luckily a lot of us have our styles due to working with one another.