This interview was originally broadcast on June 11, 2013.
In This Is the End, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel — all playing themselves — are at a party at Franco's L.A. home when an earthquake hits.
At least, they think it's an earthquake. Turns out it's the Rapture — the End of Days, as foretold in the Book of Revelation, has arrived.
The script for This is the End is chock-a-block with references to various end-of-the-world epics and disaster films, iconic and less than, and the provisions the guys have at hand for survival include 12 bottles of water, 56 beers, two vodkas, four whiskeys and six bottles of wine, plus some tequila, Nutella, cheese, steaks, and a Milky Way.
Rogen and his longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg wrote the script together. The two met as adolescents on the Vancouver bar mitzvah circuit and began writing Superbad when they were just 13. (It was released in 2006.)
Because of their Jewish backgrounds, the two thought it was a funny notion that if you're good you go to heaven, that if you're bad you go to hell, and that — for some Christians — being Jewish qualifies as "bad."
While the comedians used Revelation as a jumping-off point, they did take some liberties.
"It's all up to interpretation!" says Goldberg. "We used to have on the script, 'Based on the book by God.' "
Rogen, who's also starred in the TV show Freaks and Geeks and the film Knocked Up, says the imagery in This Is The End is plucked directly from the New Testament.
"All the ideas — the sinkholes, the smoke ... the hills on fire, are stuff from the actual Bible, which we did read!" Rogen says. "And in reading [it, we were] like, 'Crazy. This is unbelievable!' "
"Yeah," says Goldberg, who also collaborated with Rogen on Pineapple Express. "Lord of the Rings got nothing on this."
Seth Rogen on the earthquake that happened while he was doing a Fresh Air interview in 2008
"[A] tree fell over outside my house! But it fell the next day, the tree. I remember because it was during the Pineapple Express premiere. ... I remember I was a little hungover, I think, because the premiere was the night before and I probably didn't want to say so, but I was like, 'Am I just like, really messed up? Is that what I'm experiencing right now?' But thank God, I remember being so relieved when I heard there was an earthquake."
Rogen on the shadow of The Exorcist in the scene in This Is The End where Jonah Hill is playing a demon
"What happened is, we wrote what we thought was crazy stuff for Jonah to be saying, and then we watched the original Exorcist, and what she says in that movie is like the craziest stuff you could ever possibly say, and it's coming out of a 10-year-old girl. So it was so much edgier than what we had written. ...
"I remember [Jonah] said, 'We have to go the other way. What they say in the actual Exorcist is so dirty and disgusting that the joke won't even be funny. ... The more normal I'm talking, the funnier it will be."
Evan Goldberg on writing Superbad together when they were 13 years old
"Growing up in Vancouver, it's not like growing up in Middle America or the middle of Canada. It's a very movie town. I remember they filmed a Lou Diamond Phillips TV movie at our high school, and we watched them doing it. And they filmed a movie called Mastermind with Patrick Stewart at our high school, and we'd see it happening. And we would see television shows — The X-Files — shooting, so to us, it wasn't this impossible goal. We thought, 'Worse-case scenario, Seth will make money with his standup, I'll make money teaching aquatic fitness' (which is what I did), 'and we'll buy a video camera and we'll film it ourselves.' That was our goal initially."
Rogen on whether fans ask him to do the 'Seth Rogen laugh' in real life
"Oh my God, are you kidding me? I honestly do it naturally because I think it's funny that people are actually asking me to do that. It does satisfy the fans. I just think it's so funny for someone to walk up to me and say, 'Laugh for me! Do the laugh!'
"Oftentimes what happens actually is people say to me, 'I didn't know if it was you or not, and then I heard you laugh, and then obviously I could tell it was you.' Or they say, 'You actually laugh like that,!' or, 'You laugh like that in real life!' Like it's some brilliant character that I've created, this ridiculous donkey laugh."