At WonderCon, Columbia Pictures presented a panel on their summer comedy This is the End, the directorial debut of writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, starring a cast of their actor friends like Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Jay Baruchel. The gang play comic versions of themselves facing the apocalypse. Behind the scenes of WonderCon, we got an exclusive interview with Danny McBride, who is prominently featured in the red band trailer for This Is the End, making both breakfast and fun of Rogen and Hill. We laughed about McBride and Franco’ s own failures and got the scoop on the fourth season of “Eastbound & Down” with McBride.
This is the End opens June 12.
CraveOnline: We’ve seen the breakfast table scene in the red band trailer. Was that all improv?
Danny McBride: A good bit of it is improv. It’s natural with these guys. On Pineapple too, the script is funny to begin with but once you get in there with that many guys who have that many funny things to say, you kind of end up spending a lot of time off the page.
Do they call you Daniel in real life?
Only when I’m in trouble.
What is the mission of that scene? Is it that you make fun of all of them?
It’s that morning. I don’t want to ruin anything for you in the movie but I’m a little late to the idea of what’s happened in this movie. They have to fill me in on what has gone down, so that’s what’s happening in that scene. I’m being told that the world has just ended.
But already in that scene they mention some people who are no longer with us. So not everyone makes it through the first night?
Everyone doesn’t make it, no. There’s a high body count in this film.
When it gets to the point where you’re criticizing Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen’s acting, did they ask you to go there?
Yeah, when I first got down, I think I came down a week after they started filming and I had been briefed beforehand. I’m like, “Man, everyone’s really going at each other. They’re really unloading on each other in the improv so be ready.” You go in there thinking, “All right, what would I possibly make fun of these guys about?” But everyone’s a good sport about it. It was actually Seth’s line to make fun of him about The Green Hornet. This was like therapy for us. We’re all able to talk about our failures and our accomplishments and feels good about them.
So who goes after you the worst?
Franco tries to go after me but I chump him. He can’t take me down.
What are his targets?
I think he tries to knock on “Eastbound & Down.”
He goes after your biggest hit!
Yeah. And there’s unspoken grief between me and Franco about Your Highness so he tries to go at me about that.
He blames you for that?
Yeah, and I blame him, from him hosting the Oscars and making a fool of us.
Do you know if all of this makes it into the final cut or is this just riffing?
You know, I’ve held off on seeing the film because I really wanted to watch it with an audience. This is one of those movies that Seth and Evan know how to custom make a film to play like a rock show, with an audience so I’ve really been waiting for that.
My favorite part of apocalypse movies is when people have to find supplies, everyone picking through the supermarkets and warehouses. What supplies do these comedians find at their disposal?
I think there’s a Milky Way. There’s some peanut butter. I think there’s some wet wipes. Not a whole lot really. Whatever James had in his mansion is what we’re stuck with.
That’s just in Franco’s house. Do you go to any other locations to pillage?
Supplies are gotten from other places eventually.
Do you get to have any video camera found footage scenes?
I do, yeah. Yes, I do.
We’ve seen some of those. What is the conceit of why they’re making those videos in this movie?
I think it’s the same camera that James had from 127 Hours and he has it set up in his study. So as a way to deal with what we’re going through, it’s put in there as therapy so we can go in and talk about our issues and stuff to the camera.
Is that a solo improv session then?
Yeah, they actually just set the camera up for like a day and we all took turns going in there. I felt like we were on “The Real World.” It was pretty exciting.
But is that a different process than when you’re improvising with the group?
Yeah, it is. It is because you’re just kind of a one man show there. With the group, especially with this, most of the scenes there’s five or six people in there at all times, so the improv not only becomes about coming up with funny sh*t but also trying to find the rhythm and the time to come in. It’s like playing a sport, man. You’re on a team here. You’ve got a bunch of people all trying to do something and you have to back away and let people go and know when to come in. It was fun.
This looks like a big movie. How does it compare to big movies you’ve done like Land of the Lost?
You know, this looks like a big movie but it actually was done on a budget. We didn’t have an insane budget to do whatever we wanted to. The movie’s actually really contained. There’s exteriors of stuff but a large portion of the movie we’re inside Franco’s house and really made the most of it. I think it was a smart move for Seth and Evan. It’s their first directing gig and I think to be able to put a lot of it in a location custom made to make it look good, I think it was a smart move.
Is even more of it isolated in James’ house than the trailers are letting on?
We definitely go outside. There’s stuff that happens outside but it’s like Night of the Living Dead or something. Eventually it’s dudes boarded up in a house trying to fight about survival.
Have you started shooting “Eastbound” again?
We’re writing now and we start shooting at the end of May so we’re getting back into it.
Is it uncharted territory because you’re past a point in the story where you thought you’d end?
You know, it is and it isn’t. Our idea for the third season is sort of what this season’s going to be. Our original idea for the third season had Katy Mixon in the whole season. It was dealing with her, but she was on “Mike & Molly” so we only could have her for two episodes so really, we came up with the idea for last season based off of we only had her for two episodes. This year we have her for the whole thing so we’re kind of enacting some of the stuff we want to do. We just like making that show so we’re just happy we get one more round with them.
Does that work out over her hiatus?
Could there be a happy ending for Kenny and April?
Probably not. You never know.
Since you went on to do season four, have you ruled out a season five?
I think we love this show, we love the fan base that the show has, we like playing with this character but the way we do the show, it’s like a year of mine and Jody [Hill]’s life from conception to getting through production and post-production. So we wouldn’t do another season, not because we don’t think we have material, but because we really just want to go do other stuff. We want to go tell other stories and create other characters. That’d be the main reason.
The way TV is now, it wouldn’t have to be immediately. It could be years from now.
Exactly. We kind of like to look at each season like it almost is its own movie, it’s its own setting. Every season we approach that way, as if it could be one and done or you could always come back for more if you wanted to.
Is there any baseball in season four?
There’s a little bit of baseball but this really deals with Kenny’s life now as a retired athlete. It’s kind of about what happens after the hero rides off into the sunset. What happens after that beautiful moment?
He didn’t ride off as a hero.
No. [Laughs] He thinks he did.
Does he stay presumed dead?
You’ll have to see, man. You’ll have to see.