James Franco Calls 'This Is the End' 'The Best Comedy of the Year'
A version of this story first appeared in Jan. 3, 2014, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
James Franco relates how Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg turned an apocalyptic spoof made for $32 million and starring their pals playing themselves into a hit that grossed $102 million.
One of the things Seth and Evan are so good at is bringing different genres and tones together into one movie and making it work. To have us play ourselves was just one more element that pulled this movie beyond what was expected. Within the world of reality entertainment, you don't expect the cast of Jersey Shore to have to deal with the end of the world. That's what this movie is like, with all these familiar people in these extreme circumstances. It's so much more impactful that Michael Cera dies in the beginning and not some partier played by Michael Cera. Some pretty lady doesn't die. Rihanna dies. It let us riff on our actual selves, the public's perceptions of us and our fictional versions of ourselves. There's a lot more energy in that.
What's been so satisfying is to watch this natural process that made them into great comedy filmmakers. I think a lot of it comes from Judd Apatow going back to Knocked Up and even Freaks and Geeks. It's a very collaborative, open forum that happens at all stages of production. When they stepped into the role of director, it was so smooth because they had been in all other positions before, whether it was as writers or executive producers. Sure, there was this sense of, "There's absolutely no boss other than them! The kids are manning the ship!" But they did it really well. They made a movie that killed. They made the best comedy of the year. A lot of people are under the impression that we all collaborate a lot more often than we do. I think it's because when we do, it's some of our best work. These aren't just my friends that I'm going to do favors for. We're a good team. These are my people.