On some set visits, you spend a lot of time talking to the people who make the film look the way it does, from the production designers to the costumers to the director, all of them showing you their amazing special effects and the unique world they've created, usually within a soundstage. And while the effects on This Is The End will no doubt be impressive-- directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg still seemed slightly amazed that Sony even gave them the budget they had-- the movie is really all about the talking, and the comedic spark between the six main characters, all of whom we've seen playing friends in one combination or another for years.
There's Rogen and James Franco, who met over a decade ago playing buddies on Freaks & Geeks. There's Rogen and Franco and Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, who were at the center of the stoner action comedy Pineapple Express. There's Rogen and Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel, who were three of the slacker roommates in Knocked Up. And behind it all there's Rogen and Goldberg, childhood friends who wrote Superbad together when they were 13 and who are making their directing debut on This Is The End, which at moments looked like an expensive excuse to get all their friends together and improvise in a giant set that was supposed to be James Franco's Los Angeles mansion.
You've probably caught one of the many hilarious trailers or clips for This Is The End, which show off the party at Franco's house that gets disrupted when, well, the world seems to be ending. But for how the movie came together, how the guys improvise together on the set and how they avoid keeping in too many in-jokes, check out this compilation of the interviews we conducted on This Is The End's New Orleans set last June. And for everything you need to know about This Is The End, click here.
The whole project started with "Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse," a short that debuted online in 2007 and was rumored to become a feature film not long after.
Baruchel: It’s been six, seven years that I’ve been waiting for this thing to finally get going and I’m still blown away that people think our little short can be a movie, so it’s pretty neat to see it come to fruition.
The short happened because a friend of ours named Jason Stone, who is over there at video village. He was graduating from USC and he kind of wanted a calling card for potential directing gigs so he and Evan came up with this silly idea of me and Seth being stuck in an apartment together and just bitching at each other, so we went to USC and shot for two days on this awesome set that these kids built and yeah, that was it.
Was there ever a point when the feature version was just going to be the two of you or was it always going to be more people?
Baruchel: Oh, I have no idea. Yeah. I think maybe at the very beginning, but I think that would have limited the scope of the thing and the voices that could be in it. I think just him and I made sense for seven minutes or a trailer but I think for a whole movie people would probably get sick of just the two of us…
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. We never wanted to do a small version but we would’ve. If it came down to it.
Rogen: I mean we made an End of the World movie in that short, for like literally like zero dollars. 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 to basically. I mean, visual effects have come so far at this point, you really can do a lot with not a little money.
Goldberg: Like Chronicle kind of blew our fucking minds.
Rogen: Yeah, we look to movies like Chronicle and Cloverfield and a lot of movies that use practical effects in great ways. Those were really what guided us and let us know what we could do something that was visually epic and gigantic but for a price that we could do whatever the fuck we wanted basically.