By Matt McDaniel | Movie Talk
Just because the world is ending doesn’t mean you can get grabby with Rihanna.
In the new green band trailer for the apocalyptic comedy “This Is The End,” debuting exclusively here on Yahoo! Movies, the multiplatinum artist plays herself just hanging out at a massive party hosted by James Franco (also playing himself). That’s when Michael Cera (played by guess who?) gets a little forward, and Rihanna won’t stand for it.
At last weekend’s WonderCon convention in San Diego, star/co-writer/co-director Seth Rogen said that not only did Rihanna and Cera play themselves, they did their own stunts. Rogen and his cohort Evan Goldberg (they also wrote “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” together) said Cera told Rihanna that he was actually going to smack her behind while cameras rolled. Then she told him she would really be smacking him in the face. And she did. Hard. Multiple times.
Watch Rihanna get tough (and then meet an unfortunate end) in the trailer for “This Is The End,” then keep reading to learn how Rogen got the superstar to play herself and what inside joke that he loved had to be cut out of the film.
So how did Seth Rogen get one of the biggest music acts in the world to join his movie? Well, it turns out, she’s a big fan. In an interview at WonderCon, Rogen told Yahoo! Movies the idea came from an interview he read with Rihanna several years ago. She was asked to name her favorite movies, and according to Rogen, “two out of the three of them were ‘Superbad’ and ‘Pineapple Express.’ I am so not used to seeing that that I literally just clocked in my head, ‘Oh, Rihanna is a fan of ours.’”
As Rogen was writing the script where he and his buddies Jay Baruchel (who worked with him on TV’s “Undeclared” and “Knocked Up”), Jonah Hill (from “Superbad”), Danny McBride and Craig Robinson (both in “Pineapple Express”) are all partying at James Franco’s house when the world ends. Rogen said, “We just thought, ‘What if you had a bunch of famous people playing themselves in this completely ridiculous situation, basically, where they’re forced to be violent and bad [Laughs] and kind of show the worst parts of themselves.”
Rogen knew they would populate the party scene with many of the funny actors he’d worked with in earlier films, like Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari and Kevin Hart. Then, he said, it occurred to him, “At these parties there’s always someone who doesn’t belong there. It could be funny if, like, someone you don’t associate with us is there.” So he and his co-writer/co-director Evan Goldberg wondered if maybe Rihanna would do it. “And she was totally psyched to do it,” Rogen said.
Rogen did admit that writing roles for his friends where they would be basically playing themselves was harder you might think. He said, “I think we missed the mark on the first time out of the gate on a few of them, honestly.” He said in the early draft of the script the characters were a little too similar to how the actors had already been presenting themselves on-screen. “And I also think we weren’t sure what they’d be comfortable with until we sent them a script and started really having that conversation.”
But once they started working with the actors to create exaggerated or sometimes completely dissimilar versions of themselves to play in the movie, the stars really embraced it. Rogen said, “Once everyone locked into that, then they all took it way farther than I ever would have thought. [I thought] ‘I can’t believe these people are making these jokes on camera,’ and it almost seemed cathartic in a way.”
Evan Goldberg recounted, “I’ll never forget at one point Jay [Baruchel] walked by and just told me, ‘This is like a weird therapy session.’” And Rogen agreed: “What’s weird is it’s not like we’re setting the record straight… If anything, we’re making ourselves look worse than we did before.” But he said that with everyone playing themselves, and consequently being able to draw on their own personal histories, “it was so freeing to know that, like, there was no barrier.”
Still, Rogen and Goldberg said they had to police themselves not to include any inside jokes that were too obscure for the audience to find funny. This meant cutting a sequence that the cast and crew thought was hilarious, but test audiences did not get. Rogen said they filmed once scene where James Franco “actually got the Green Goblin mask from ‘Spider-Man.’ And I’m pushing him around on a skateboard… and he’s throwing pumpkin bombs at everybody.” Danny McBride then played Peter Parker, and Craig Robinson (in a wig) was Mary Jane. It made them all laugh, but Rogen said, “And then when we screened it, people just did not get what the f— we were doing.”
“What’s good is the fact that we’re famous doesn’t play into the actual story of the movie that much,” Rogen said, “so we could kind of just use the jokes whenever we felt like we needed them. The movie still works the same if we’re just guys.”
As for Rihanna, Rogen said she acquitted herself nicely to the heavily improvised comedic style of the movie. He said, “She was really good. I mean, we didn’t ask that much of her, I would say. She gets several gigantic laughs in the movie. She was really good with it. She came up with some really funny stuff. We asked her to be Rihanna. That’s not that hard. [Laughs]”
It wasn’t hard for her, apparently, just Michael Cera’s face.
“This Is The End” opens June 12.