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Apocalypse comedies are all the rage lately – seriously, they're more common than Nicolas Cage movies right now – but in terms of originality, it's hard to beat "This Is the End."
The summer laugher, co-written and co-directed by longtime buds/collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, features six of film's funniest joke-slingers (Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel) playing "heightened versions" of themselves on the night of The Reckoning. Better yet, it takes place at a Hollywood house party and features handfuls of celebrity cameos, many of which end in gory demises.
That leaves our six main players left to fend for themselves while utter catastrophe reigns outside of the house (Franco's) they've barricaded themselves in.
We ventured south last spring to behold some of the improv-heavy shenanigans on a soundstage outside of New Orleans, where Franco's Hollywood house had been constructed. Here are the 15 most notable quotables.
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"You have to prep the movie very fast and just get them spending money before they know what they're doing." – Danny McBride
You got the sense from all the major players involved on set that they were surprised a major Hollywood studio (Sony) would finance such a bizarro, balls-to-the-wall project.
"We suck with titles." – Seth Rogen
The project evolved from a short Rogen and Baruchel made a few years back called "Jay and Seth Vs. the Apocalypse." In its feature-length incarnation, it became "End of the World," and held that title at the time of our interviews. "There's a chance this isn't what the title ultimately ends up being," Rogen said. He was right.
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"I actually don't like houses." – James Franco
We asked Franco if he had any insight as to why Rogen and Goldberg set the action at his fictional abode, and he was clueless. "We're supposed to be in my big mansion, but I don't have a house. I live in an apartment in New York, a pretty small one, on the Lower East Side." He added, "I've bought a couple houses over the years and I've always sold them. I found I don't like houses." As to if this house in particular would've been funded with "Spider-Man" money? "I guess. I'm sure Seth has more money than I have."
"I'm playing myself. So I'm an international superstar playboy extraordinaire." – Danny McBride
In seriousness, the "Eastbound and Down" star described the sextet's roles as "heightened versions" of themselves. "This movie doesn't take a lot of preparation," I won't lie." Baruchel described their takes on characters as "'Curb Your Enthusiasm'-ish... We are ourselves and we're not."
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"There are aspects of me. Like I'm an actor. I like art. I like Seth." – James Franco
Each of the actor's personas were pushed to "a goofy extreme," the actor said. "The character [is] stupider. He's got the emotional level of a 13-year-old. They all do, I think… He's just a little shallower than I like to think that I am."
"I don't think I am as whiny. I cry a lot in this movie." – Craig Robinson
If he found himself fighting for survival in real life, Robinson says it'd be a whole new ballgame. "I think I'd be more like, 'Yeah, bring it mother f**ker."
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"We definitely started off with everyone being full-blown assholes." – Evan Goldberg
Goldberg and Rogen subsequently realized that audiences might not care to watch a feature-length film about six arrogant actors they couldn't stand. "So we kind of gave them each more realistic characters," Goldberg said, to which Rogen added: "Gave them different types of assholes!"
"Seth oddly enough doesn't really have any negative attributes. He comes off as courageous and bold." – Danny McBride
The benefits of being the writer-director-producer, too? We're pretty sure he's kidding. Pretty sure.
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"I'm wearing the studio-approved version of what I would wear." – Jay Baruchel
The actors were encouraged to bring their own wardrobes to set, or in some in cases, specific items. Robinson, for instance, was told to bring the custom-made monogrammed towels he's known for sporting. "I sweat a lot," he said. "I just like to have a towel, like Linus or somebody."
"Like if the Kardashians suddenly were fighting aliens or something like that." – James Franco
That's a point of reference Franco brings up for comparison when elaborating on the actors tweaking their public personas for the role. "I hope nobody watches this and thinks, 'Oh, that's what they're really like.'"
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"It's insanely violent. I've seen a lot of celebrities die very grisly deaths." – Danny McBride
Sign us up.
"There's a lot of s**tting on each other's work in this movie." – Jay Baruchel
Baruchel, whose character is in town "visiting" from Montreal the night of the party (Actual Baruchel remains north of the border as well), on the actors' continual jabs at each other's bodies of work. "We're just blaspheming constantly." As Robinson would put it, "Nothing is off limits. Everybody is getting skewered."
"'Knocked Up' was my first big movie role, I think. Well, I had done a modern movie classic called 'Accepted' before that – I think it's on the AFI 100 list, if you've never seen it." – Jonah Hill
Hill was explaining how the dynamic has been different on "This Is the End" from "Knocked Up," in which he, Baruchel and Rogen shared multiple scenes. "I was younger and learning about having bigger parts and movies and learning from Judd and Seth and those guys."
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"I think my wedding was the last time all four of us were together, yeah, in a swimming pool filled with piss." – Danny McBride
"This Is the End" marks the reunion of four stars of "Pineapple Express": McBride, Rogen, Franco and Robinson.
"I felt like I was in 'The Walking Dead,' where it's like one drunk guy sensed I was there, and then another… It was like, 'Keep f**king moving." – Danny McBride
McBride had been asked if the six stars were enjoying shooting together in New Orleans, and more specifically, if they could walk down Bourbon St. together without chaos reigning in the street in real life.
Originally published April 16, 2013.