'2012' Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know

Look back at early casting news, interviews and clips before you head to the theater.

It's 2009 and a couple scientists discover the sun is freaking out and heating up the Earth's core. Good news for anyone who likes a nice subterranean sauna. Bad news for anyone who wants the Earth not to fall to pieces in the few years.

Disaster kingpin Roland Emmerich's [movie id="381911"]"2012"[/movie] then cuts to the year 2012, which looks pretty much like 2009, except the governments of the world are scrambling to come up with a secret survival plan for humanity. Which they are going to need — stat! — because it's not too long before a few Los Angeles tremors make way for mega-quakes, lava-gushing volcanoes and tsunamis that no amount of human fortitude can combat.

Into this apocalyptic mess comes John Cusack's struggling novelist Jackson Curtis, who has to rescue his ex-wife and kids while trying not to pee himself. The gleeful destruction wallops theaters on Friday (November 13), and it's up to you to prepare for the cinematic end-of-times: Hop aboard the pop-culture lifeboat that is MTV's "2012" cheat sheet.

The End of the World Begins

Word about the Emmerich's movie began to trickle out last year, with Cusack signing on to play the lead, Amanda Peet becoming his ex-wife and Woody Harrelson portraying a conspiracy-minded radio-show host who's discovered the world is about to end.

"We've seen some, like, early, early, early footage and it's crazy," Peet told us last December. "It's crazy."

The teaser trailer showed us all what sort of craziness Peet was talking about and made one thing clear: Everyone — even serene Buddhist monks — is screwed.

Commence Fiery Destruction!

Six months later, a full-length trailer delved into the mythology behind the film — a long, long time ago, the Mayans predicted planetary devastation in 2012 — but thankfully skipped the history lesson and focused on the cinematic "You gotta be kidding me!" factor: fire, smoke, quakes, tidal waves and the disintegration of a couple iconic monuments. (Goodbye, Sistine Chapel! Later, Christ the Redeemer!)

How to Survive

As Cusack and his crew continue to cheat death, they find themselves with a bit of a problem: What's the best way to escape a plane crash? What if that plane is filled with luxury cars? And you're plummeting into a snowy mountain? An exclusive MTV clip showed how they handled the situation.

The Soundtrack of the Final Days

What does the end of the world sound like? Adam Lambert! The "American Idol" runner-up recorded "Time for Miracles," his first post-show track, for the "2012" soundtrack.

"I really feel honored that they came to me and asked me," Lambert told us. "I think it's obviously a risk on their part because this was before any sort of album had been completed or hardly even started. So, for them to ask me, it shows faith. It really made me feel good and gave me a lot of confidence."

Said Peet: "I love him. I love him. I love him."

Welcome to the Apocalypse

Cusack wanted to make one thing clear in a recent interview: Emmerich has done disaster movies before ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow") but "2012" is an entirely different beast.

"This is more of an apocalypse movie!" he said. "This has to do with people trying to figure out, 'What do you do when there is no escape and there is no way out?' So you have a much more existential vibe than just, 'How do we survive this disaster?' "

Check out everything we've got on "2012."

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