Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg on 'This Is The End'
I spoke to them about what it's like to make a film with your friends.
Inspired by This Is the End – where five of Hollywood’s A-List comedy faces, Danny McBride, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson, wake up to find themselves high and dry with a front seat to the end of the world – VICE is spending a whole week exploring the hilarious side of the Apocalypse. If this is the end, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
Let's face it, James Franco probably gets up to some pretty wild stuff at his house parties. But is it as wild as the apocalypse? Probably not, but that's the premise of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s new movie, This Is The End. In their apocalyptic comedy Franco throws a party for his Hollywood friends (including literally everyone you would ever want to see in a movie). For some reason, Franco, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson don't die like nearly everyone else on Earth does, and their goodwill is subsequently put to test. It’s basically an updated morality play where heightened versions of real celebrities seek redemption from the eternal hellfire of Hollywood. Amazing.
This is The End follows in the footsteps of Superbad and Pineapple Express in the stoner bro comedy thread. I hope you’re all really excited. I caught up with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg ahead of the movie’s UK premiere.
VICE: Hey, congratulations! So what inspired you to make This Is The End a meta-reality in which you all play versions of yourselves?
Evan Goldberg: The Larry Sanders Show was big for both of us as kids, we watched that a lot.
Seth Rogen: There was a David Duchovny episode where the joke is he’s always hitting on Larry Sanders, I remember seeing it and being like “that’s crazy”. Even Seinfeld did it. I remember when they started doing "the show about nothing", and they’re pitching their own show on the show and it blew my mind as a kid. I thought it was so funny and so original.
Have you always wanted to do something a bit different to the regular run-of-the-mill blockbuster?
Seth Rogen: So many of these movies have been made and so many of these sitcoms have happened that you almost have to start eating your own tail in order to do something original. We kept saying, “We’re in so many movies together; everyone knows we’re friends, it’s almost weird not to acknowledge that we’re all actually friends in real life.” And that was part of the idea behind it.
Was it awkward that you had to constantly make fun of all the “real” people in your movie?
Evan Goldberg: Generally speaking, celebrities are much more aware of how they’re perceived by the public than people probably think they are, so the guys could help us curtail it to something appropriate for the public very well. James Franco is extremely aware of what people make fun of him for.
Seth Rogen: Yeah, even more than us to some degree. We had originally made fun of his Gucci modelling and stuff, and he was like, “No, people make fun of my art and shit like that, that’s what you should focus on, that’s what I get made fun of for.”
So his art in the film is what he would imagine people would imagine he would paint.
Seth Rogen: Yes.
Evan Goldberg: The crazy part is that he painted most of it, I don’t know where the joke starts and ends.
Seth Rogen: It’s a very meta-joke, I don’t even get it fully.
For a movie that’s set almost entirely inside someone’s house, you spent a tonne of money. Was it part of your original premise to take a style that’s associated with independent films and make a blockbuster with it?
Seth Rogen: Yeah, we knew we couldn’t afford to do a lot of big stuff, so it was like an equation we worked out where it’s like: if we stay mostly in one place we save enough money, so when we leave finally, it can be gigantic. There’s one scene at the beginning of Pineapple Express that’s like 15 minutes long and is literally what allowed us to afford to make the rest of the entire movie. If you spend your money wisely then you have moments that are huge and you’re kinda restrained for others.
Your movies are a great example of the traditional American buddy genre – two close friends with different characters who at times don’t get each other but then go through a journey and come out stronger – it happened in Superbad and it happens with Seth and Jay in This Is The End. Is that reflective of your personal friendship?
Seth Rogen: A little, not really, we’ve never had those problems in our friendship. I think that’s why we’re so comfortable exploring it. Circumstantially, it was happening, but all the really deep-seated emotions weren’t there, probably because we were writing about it and were very open about expressing it. I moved to LA, Evan came out a few years after me and he didn’t get along with a lot of the people I was friends with.
So you were the guy loitering at parties, not talking to anyone?
Evan Goldberg: I liked to say they didn’t get along with me.
Seth Rogen: They didn’t get along with him. And that’s what we talked about, I’d say I think the seed is based on reality, but all the emotions are made for the movie.
Evan Goldberg: Yeah, a good partnership is super boring.
Seth Rogen: Yeah exactly, a very well functioning team is not that interesting.
True. In a completely different vein, I thought Danny McBride’s character in the movie was a total Eric Cartman. He terrorises everyone, doesn’t share food, guilt-trips people when he can’t have what he wants, and practices cannibalism.
Seth Rogen: It’s true, it’s a good point.
Were you influenced by him?
Seth Rogen: It was subconscious.
Evan Goldberg: But Eric Cartman hates Jews and Danny McBride is a Jew.
That’s the twist.
Seth Rogen: That’s the one twist, but I think you’re right, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were subconsciously influenced by it and just never talked about it.
Evan Goldberg: I mean the amount of South Park and Simpsons jammed in our brains...
Seth Rogen: Yeah, there’s no chance we didn’t.
And you wrote a Simpsons episode together, how was that?
Evan Goldberg: The greatest thing ever, we got to sit in while they recorded, obviously he was one of the voices, but they let me sit in the room too.
Seth Rogen: They all do it together in the same room, it’s amazing.
Evan Goldberg: And they give each other pointers. I pictured them separated across the world.
Seth Rogen: They record a whole episode in like, an hour. It’s crazy.
Lastly, who’s your favourite British comedian?
Seth Rogen: Sacha Baron Cohen.
Evan Goldberg: Sacha Baron Cohen.
Seth Rogen: He gave us our first jobs [on Da Ali G Show] so we always have to pick him, we’d be nothing without him. I wouldn’t have met my wife without him.
Evan Goldberg: I wouldn’t have met my wife without him, I wouldn’t have a career. That was literally my first job ever.
Cute, he’s like a creepy matchmaker. Thanks!
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At Cinemas June 28
The text version of this interview has been edited for ease of reading and brevity.
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