James, you once said that you use your public persona as a way to express art. Your This Is the End character seems like the weirdest, most meta way to do it.
JF: With a comedic slant being key here.
SR: Like Curb Your Enthusiasm. Or The Larry Sanders Show.
I had to keep explaining: Yes, you are stupid in this movie. If we did what was reasonable, it would just be us sitting in the house, slowly conserving our food and water. It would not be very funny. - Seth Rogen
Unlike Larry David or Garry Shandling, though, you guys are big movie stars.
JF: In some ways it takes pressure off of the real personas, and it allows us to mess with them, because something else is going on. If the apocalyptic side of the movie wasn’t there, it would just be about spoofing our personas, and that can only go so far. It would become this insidery, self-indulgent thing.
But they say there’s truth in every joke.
JF: Well, that’s one belief.
SR: God, I hope not. [Laughs.]
Do you think this movie has the potential to alter the public perception of you?
SR: Microscopically, it lets people see that we at least understand how we’re perceived, which most people don’t think we do.
How did everyone take the jokes about themselves?
SR: I think everyone had their own little sensitive area, honestly, except Franco. [Turns to Franco.] I can confidently look at you and say every single person in the movie at one point came up to me and Evan and said: “Can we not do that? I don’t like it.”
JF: Are you serious?
SR: You never did, and I obviously never did, either. But everyone else—literally every single other person—came up to me at some point.
JF: That’s hilarious.3
SR: It was really funny. If anything, though, I was surprised at how far everyone would push it. It’s a weird thing to do at first, and you have to get comfortable with doing it.
So, what got cut?
SR: What got cut? [Laughs.] It was religious stuff. Or things about other actors. People would get uncomfortable about that kind of stuff, ’cause you’re dragging other people into a fight they didn’t sign up for.
If you guys were actually trapped in a house during the end of the world, how different would the reality be from the movie?
JF: Hopefully we would be a little more—
SR: We’re all a lot smarter in real life. On set, the thing that the guys would come to us the most with wasn’t “I’m coming across like an asshole” or “I would never do this.” It was always: “What we’re doing is so stupid.” Evan and I had to keep explaining: Yes, you are stupid in this movie. If we did what was reasonable, it would just be us sitting in the house, slowly conserving our food and water. It would not be very funny.
JF: I’d like to think that if I was in this kind of circumstance, I would behave more like my character in 127 Hours.4
SR: Exactly. That’s a much more realistic look at how this would go down.
If the world were ending, and you had all the necessities, where would you go to loot the first non-necessity? A record store? A bookstore? The museum?
SR: Probably the library.
JF: And what would we loot first?
SR: If it were an I Am Legend–type situation? I’d go steal a Ferrari or something.
JF: You’d want to do all those things.
SR: Would you want to go loot the LACMA?5
JF: Yeah. It’s funny how all those things—when you’re in an apocalyptic situation—suddenly lose value.
SR: It’s like that thing in Children of Men where he has Michelangelo’s “David”—
JF: —Picasso’s “Guernica.”
SR: Exactly. But all you’re thinking is: We’re all going to be dead soon, so what’s the fuckin’ difference where all this shit is? [Laughs.]
JF: If it’s the end? It seems like you’d just want to have—
JF: As many great experiences as you can have rather than—
In which case, stealing a Ferrari would be a pretty great last experience.
SR: I’d steal a 747 and fly it around. That’d probably end poorly, but I would try.
JF: You’d probably just want to say everything you’ve ever felt about everyone.
In a roundabout way, Seth, This Is the End is your third film about the apocalypse. There was Donnie Darko, and then, as Dirty Randy on The League....
SR: Yeah, exactly! The Mayan Acockalypse. [Laughs.]
By the way, the Dirty Randy movie needs to happen.
SR: It does! [The League’s Jason] Mantzoukas and I were actually just talking about it.
I saw him on Saturday night. We were like, “We should just do something that focuses on our two characters.” [Laughs.]6
What’s the obsession with the end of the world that drives people so crazy? It even compels Dirty Randy.
SR: People think the fucking world is going to end!
Do you guys think the world is going to end? Or do you think it’s ending at a faster or slower rate today than ever before?
JF: This is getting so dark, man.
It’s a fair question!
SR: I remember when I was a kid, I asked my dad, “Do you think the world is going to end?” My dad looked at me and said, “Well, I think it’s already ended.” [Laughs.] I remember that fucking fucked me up for a while.