Exclusive Interview: Jay Baruchel on This is the End
Jay Baruchel gets off light in This is the End, the new apocalyptic self-reference comedy where Hollywood's biggest comedians play themselves, fighting their way through the end of the world. For most of the cast, the plot is often just an excuse to make fun of their public personae or their least popular movies. Jay Baruchel, as the de facto hero of the group, gets by without too many insults about his career. Baruchel thinks he knows the reason, but it's not all that flattering if you really sit down and think about it.
I sat down and thought about the self-referential humor of This is the End with Jay Baruchel at the Wanrer Bros. lot in Culver City, CA. We also waxed rhapsodic about selfless humor, the Robocop remake, the awesomeness of RoboCop 2 and a handful of bad movies that Hollywood should remake instead of all the good stuff that still works great.
CraveOnline: You know, when I was a kid, I saw a John Candy movie. I don't even remember which one and I just noticed that they called him by his character's name, and I thought to myself, "I know that's John Candy."
"I came to see John Candy."
"Why don't they just call him… John Candy?"
[Same time] …John Candy!
It's so interesting to me. It's like, "I came here to see this Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen movie, and they're just playing themselves! It's awesome!"
[Laughs] I think it was just like, the nucleus of it started from this short that Seth and I made in '06. And you know, we didn't think anything would come of it so why not play ourselves? And then it kind of connected to people, and I think people liked the sort of self-effacing/self-referential inside joke. For whatever reason, it connected to people, us being ourselves. And so when it came time to magnify it and make it a fleshed-out, three-act feature film… You know, I know that was a huge battle that Seth and Evan had to fight with the studio the whole time because that was the thing they took the most issue with. It was none of the religious stuff, none of the thematic stuff, none of the gore. The issue the studio had, the biggest issue they had, was us playing ourselves.
Did they worry it was going to diminish your brand if you came across like a douche?
I think it was more like, there's a Hollywood equation that says, and they're not wrong, but it's just like, "Average people don't like seeing movies about movies."
But this isn't a movie about movies. This is a movie about celebrities.
Same difference, I think.
For them. And again, not wrong, and it was sort of like… Never a criticism, but a question mark. I remember, fairly early on after getting the first draft of the script, I was like, "It's really good and this is gonna be awesome, but one thing to just sort of keep an eye out for is like, the shade of difference between being self-referential and self-indulgent." Think about the average moviegoer, ticket buyers. You know, middle-to-working class, and movies aren't cheap anymore, so if they spend whatever it is, 12-to-15 bucks or 20 for 3D or whatever to go see a movie, they don't wanna see a bunch of fuckin' spoiled, rich people complain about being spoiled and rich.
Yeah, just sort of hanging out in the house and fuckin' around.
Exactly, and so I was just like, "Let's make sure the story makes as much sense. Let's make sure it's just funny, above all else." I mean, not that I was the only voice saying this, but it was just like, that was paramount among my concerns.
Well, in the movie you're kind of the only voice saying this. In the movie, you're kind of this outsider.
Yeah, the audience's way in, kind of. Because you know, every movie needs a character that the audience can be, as their sort of guide into the thing. That fell to me, given my geographic isolation from the rest of the boys.
Yeah, you hang out in Canada.
You ever been tempted to come down here for like, a…?
I mean, I end up down here a lot. I work a lot down here and have done since I… Mercifully, I've done pretty well since I started working here when I was 18, but there was never… Maybe for a few months back like almost a decade ago, there was a time where I thought I could be an Angelino, but it's just not my cup of tea. And also, what I do is much more special when I can go back to a sort of normal life, as opposed to… not that there's not normal life here, but for me, in this business, if you're in LA and you work in this business, you pretty much experience and see only this business.
There is an entertainment industry in Montreal.
Is it a completely different vibe? Is that all it is?
It is, and it's also not the defining industry of the city. That's the biggest difference, and so like, yeah. Movies and TV are there and plays… I just did a fucking play for a month in Montreal.
What was it?
It was a new one. A new Sherlock Holmes play.
Well, that's fun. Were you Sherlock?
I was Sherlock, yeah.
That's awesome! That's so cool.
Yeah, it was really cool. It was really, really fun. But you know, it's… Montreal is a great town. There's equal parts blue-collar town. This is why it has the great, most successful Hockey team in the history of the sport, but also is the town that gave the world The Arcade Fire and all this shit. It's just a different thing, and it's also Winter six months of the fucking year. It keeps you honest and you have to shovel and shit, you know?