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When we first heard about Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's directorial debut This is the End, we were on the fence about how it would turn out. With a cast that includes Rogen and recurring collaborators James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and Michael Cera, it seemed to have a solid start. Plus Rogen and Goldberg showed their sharp skills at crafting an outrageous but heartwarming (in a bromance-way) narrative with Superbad. But with all these stars playing themselves, would this be an entertaining comedy that pokes fun at their celeb personas against the backdrop of the apocalypse? Or would This is The End be a series of in-jokes that would only be amusing to Rogen's circle of friends?
We were thrilled to report it's the former, a fearless and funny movie that gets celebrity schadenfreude right. And among its many virtues is a finale that is a total showstopper that features a surprising cameo and has had audiences dancing in their seats. But it turns out this bonkers resolution was not how Rogen and Goldberg originally scripted the end. (Spoilers for the end of This is the End follow!)
Vulture caught up with Goldberg, the comedy's co-writer/co-director, and asked him how in the hell he and Rogen came up with the idea of wishing for a Backstreet Boys reunion in heaven complete with rousing performance of their hit "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." He confessed that the idea originally came from one of the writer's wives, but he doesn't specify whether it was Mrs. Goldberg or Mrs. Rogen, A.K.A. Lauren Miller, co-writer of the wonderfully wacky sex-comedy For a Good Time, Call… Then he went on to explain the original scripted ending had Seth and Jay ascending into heaven to come face to face with none other than Morgan Freeman.
"The whole joke was, he shows up, and he's like, 'I'm God.' And they're like, 'You're God?' And Jay [Baruchel] goes, 'Wait, so when we were in Million Dollar Baby together, were you God then? I don't get it.' And then God shows up and he's like, 'We're just fucking with you. This is Morgan Freeman. We just play this joke on people when they come to heaven now. Do you guys want to get high and play some video games?'"
See, Morgan Freeman has played God before in Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty. So it's funny that he'd actually be God…or something. Honestly, this sounds like it would have been such a weak final bit killing the momentum of the many that worked shockingly well before. Thankfully, this idea got tossed because Freeman had no interest in signing on. So, Rogen persisted with the wife-suggested Backstreet Boys cameo, and the boy band (can we still call them that?) was happy to get on board. Rogen, who describes himself as a huge fan, recounts, "The Backstreet Boys were like, 'Yeah! Of course we would be in heaven. Why wouldn't we be? We bring joy to the world.'"
And Rogen and the Boys didn't say their shared song and dance for the movie either. Back in April, The Backstreet Boys performed at one of Rogen's charity fundraisers for The Alzheimer's Association, Hilarity For Charity. Of course, they invited him onstage, which you can witness in the vid below: