When I saw Goodbye World at the Los Angeles Film Festival last year, I was impressed by its take on a group of survivors facing the end of society. James (Adrien Grenier) and Lily (Kerry Bishe) live on an organic farm, which becomes the perfect place to hole up after a virus wipes out America’s communication network. James was already hosting Nick (Ben McKenzie) and Becky (Caroline Dhavernas) to work out some old business, and they are joined by more old college buddies with their own takes on activism.
When the situation intensifies, there are not only arguments within the group about what to do with James’ stockpile, but conflict from outside when other survivors suspect James is holding out. I could tell that James already had a lot in common with Grenier’s own environmental activism, further explored on his website SHFT, so I was excited to get the chance to discuss the themes of Goodbye World directly with Grenier, now that the film is opening Friday.
CraveOnline: Are you by any chance calling me from the set of the Entourage movie?
Adrian Grenier: No, I’m not at this very moment but I’m in and out all week.
There’s so many interesting things to discuss about Goodbye World. Were these eight characters destined for conflict anyway?
Yeah, I think absolutely. Human beings I think must endure natural discord, and especially when we’re living in a civilization that requires so much collaboration and cooperation. I think that’s part of the fundamental theme of the movie, how important it is to figure out ways to collaborate and work together in order for a functioning community, but society and civilization generally.
Does James take self-sufficiency too far?
He is a bit of a prepper certainly. Yeah, I think so. James represents this sort of thinking, this isolationist thinking where you want to protect and hoard all of the resources for your own well-being, especially because there are limited resources and a lot of times people don’t use them or protect them properly or abuse the resources. At the same time, you can’t live successfully without bringing in other people. You can’t isolate yourself because that’s not healthy.
And it doesn’t work, because there’s always going to be someone who could steal your resources anyway.
Absolutely. If you start to be protectionist or isolate yourself, you’re just creating tension that will ultimately lead to conflict because others also need resources. So unless you figure out a way to share, you’re going to have issues later.
I can see how James might be aligned with your interests, certainly environmentally. Was he your first choice of characters to play in Goodbye World?
I think it’s sort of ironic because he is en environmentalist on some level, but he doesn’t recognize that the environmental quandary really requires a full-scale global collaboration. Everyone has to work together to really shift society in a more functional model. I think I maybe just more gravitated towards James.
James obviously sees himself as the leader. Did you see him as the leader?
I think he’s the patriarch. His first interest is in protecting his family and his daughter, so I think it’s a survival instinct so he takes control and takes charge, partly instinctively because he wants to make sure that his family is safe and protected.
Was there ever more political talk in the movie?
No, I think what you see is pretty much what was scripted. I think it’s one of the beauties of the film. It’s relatively subtle. The political themes are baked into the interpersonal relationships of the characters and sort of expressed through the dynamics of the characters.
It really is just enough to get the ideas out there.
Yeah, I quite like the movie for that reason. It’s not hitting you over the head with those political ideas but they’re in there, and they’re expressed actively through the interpersonal dynamics of the characters.
Would debates ever continue off camera?
Oh yeah, yeah. Particularly Denis [Hennelly] and I, the director. We would have these conversations. We were shooting up in Northern California so we were in complete isolation in the middle of nowhere, Boonville. It was really isolated from any major city, more so than I’m used to coming. So we had a lot of time on our hands after work to just talk and contemplate these ideas. Denis and I would often argue because while we had a lot in common about our worldview and the way he sees some of the troubling environmental things happening, I think we, in a lot of ways, disagree as well. It was definitely a lot of back and forth, philosophical debates, pontificating on solutions.
What did you disagree with Denis on?
Well, I’m actually quite an optimist and I think Denis probably sees the imperative to be a lot more dire, whereas I kind of have faith in evolution to work it all out on our behalf.
Being an optimist, Becky was my favorite character and everyone hated her so much. Why do you think she was such a threat to this group?
You liked her character? You agreed with her point of view?
Yes, she supported her husband and was pretty selfless in general. She went into this hostile environment to try to protect his well-being. I think she corrected some people’s false beliefs by saying what would really happen if they did what they were suggesting.
Right. I don’t know. I feel like every character is both appreciated and despised in their own way. I think there’s nobody perfect. I think that’s what you have to realize is when you’re working with other people, you have to accept those things that you don’t necessarily agree with. It’s all about compromise and appreciating your differences. Everybody brings to the table different perspectives and points of view, and if you reject one point of view or one perspective, you might be missing out on a crucial important element that may sustain you and aid in your survival in the long run.
Did you get Kid Cudi in the Entourage movie because of working with him on Goodbye World?
No, he’s just been killing it. He’s been doing a lot of great film projects so I think you’re going to be seeing a lot more of him around. We get along quite well so I was glad to see him on the Entourage film as well.
As himself or a character?