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Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg Wonder “What Happens to the Jews?”

The writing partners talk about ‘This is the End’, being Canadian Jews, and the apocalypse at a Toronto press conference.

By: Anthony Marcusa
Published: May 29th, 2013 in Culture » Film » News
Evan Goldberg and Seth RogenPic: The Toronto Star

Those who adhere to the Book of Revelations, generally speaking, believe that when the end of world comes, which could be really at any time, the righteous will be saved and the rest will be subject to hell on Earth.

“People actually think that we’re going to be stuck here, so what would we do if that happened? What happens to the Jews?” asked Evan Goldberg, equal parts serious and facetious. “The answer is you get [expletive].”

“We just thought it was funny,” says Seth Rogen, Goldberg’s longtime writing partner. The pair has co-directed a forthcoming feature This Is The End, a meta-comedy starring Rogen and several familiar faces, all playing themselves, who find themselves at a party in Hollywood as the world comes to an end.

The film is by no means religious or the least bit serious; there are plenty of sex jokes, foul gags, and drug use, as you would expect from the duo that wrote Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet, and Superbad. The idea of the world coming to the end, in biblical proportions, was still a starting point for the pair in the creative process.

“We always wanted it to be the Christian apocalypse,” says Rogen. The full length feature, released on June 12, is in fact based off of a short film Rogen and Goldberg wrote together, Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse, with the title referring to actor Jay Baruchel. In addition to those two, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride all star and all play versions of themselves.

A house party Franco’s is in full gear when earthquakes and fires erupt outside, as death and destruction reigning all around. The six are holed up inside, and Jay is the first to wonder if the end of days is in fact occurring. The others laugh and think he’s crazy, but then again, he’s the only one who saw blue streams of light carry off people up into the sky to apparent safety.

The story certainly changed and expanded over the creative process though, and the film is more about six actors playing themselves and having fun than anything else. “We tried to move away from [the Jewish aspect] a bit, but we thought it was an interesting, overall thought. What if they were right?”

The original draft of the script said, ‘Based on the Book by God,” added Rogen, to many laughs at the Toronto press day.

“The first assembly of the movie was all gospel music,” joined in Goldberg, discussing other evolutions of sorts.”We recorded a gospel choir and video-taped them. We had a musical concept that we instantly abandoned,” and that gave way to a version of ‘Paper Planes’ by M.I.A. and ‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy, among several other musical elements, that added to the film and especially its tremendous third act.

The comedic style is both familiar and new. The six main guys have all worked together, and the jokes themselves aren’t unique, but there is something special about watching them being exaggerated versions of their public perception. As writers and directors, there is an added element for Rogen and Goldberg.

“Canadians have a great sense of humour, and it’s because they are willing to be self deprecating,” says Goldberg, born in Vancouver. “And no one self deprecates like a Jew.”

“As Canadians Jews, we’re really in the sweet spot,” adds Rogen. “Us and Lorne Michaels are pretty much it.”

In the opening, as Rogen waits at an airport for Baruchel to arrive, a bystander yells at him, “Don’t you play like the same guy in every movie?” It’s one of many jokes that either absurdly embraces or outrageous subverts a certain notion, like James Franco loving art or Michael Cera (in a small role) being a nice, awkward boy.

What perhaps is most enjoyable about the film is something that neither Rogen nor Goldberg had necessarily anticipated when they made it. Early response has seen a particular intrigue into which character is right about the future, and who lives and dies – it is the apocalypse after all. As much fun as it is to watch comedic actors goof and riff, there is a story that is rather intriguing and in fact unpredictable.

It’s perhaps because they are all playing themselves that as long as the movie is interesting and funny, which it is, you don’t really care what happens in the end.

Related articles: Toronto, Press Conference, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, This is the End, Jewish, Apocalypse, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Michael Cera
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