Evan Golberg (left), chowing on some pountine with fellow Canadian Seth Rogen (right), image courtesy of Getty Images
Evan Goldberg has been involved with nearly every funny movie that’s been released in recent years. He co-wrote Superbad, Pineapple Express, and Goon, and produced all of these movies in addition to Knocked Up, Funny People, and 50/50, just to name a few. His latest project, This Is The End, marks his directorial debut, which he also wrote, directed, and produced alongside fellow Canadian funny-man Seth Rogen. In addition to Rogen, a lot of familiar faces in comedy grace the screen over the course of the film, which centres around a James Franco party-cum-apocalyptic nightmare. This guy’s not just the brains of Canadian comedy, he’s the balls of comedy too, and you can expect all of the corporeal humour you know and love from a Goldberg/Rogen film.
We chatted with Goldberg – who was just as funny, eloquent, and sharp as all of his movie scripts – about his favourite comedies, his movies as pornos, and some great party stories with Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Quentin Tarantino, and more.
Canadian comedians seem to be our country’s biggest export right now, with the exception of maybe poutine. Why is that?
First of all, you left out lumber. Lumber is our primary export I think. I’ve always had a strong belief that essentially we’re the closest thing to Americans, but we’re not Americans, so we can be a little more objective when we look at American culture. We do have our own culture, so having that objectivity of knowing everything about American culture while not actually being American gives Canadians this outlook that lets us be funny, and partially funny to Americans. I think Americans really get our humour. When it comes to my movies, and movies I’ve made with Seth [Rogen], they’ve always been popular in Australia, the UK, Canada, and America. They’re the most similar cultures of the English speaking world.
I know you and fellow Canadian Jay Baruchel wrote Goon together. How did you guys first meet each other?
I met Jay either right before Undeclared happened, or right after it happened, I can’t remember which. Seth was like, ‘oh, there’s this guy on the show who’s from Montreal, you should hang out with him.’ Jay eventually came to a party I had at my house – this is actually really funny – this was the first time I’d ever hung out with him and he’d just graduated from high school and just started acting, so he wasn’t going to parties and socializing like the first-year university experience I had. So he felt kind of awkward at the party. I had a neighbour below me who was French Canadian and he went ballistic, he came up, he was like a body builder with just a towel on, and he was screaming at me that he was going to beat me up or call the cops if I didn’t stop the party. But the only person there who spoke french was Jay, and we’d only met him like an hour ago, and he got into this argument with this massive ‘roid monkey. He was like shitting his pants. So me and Jay became very good friends then and have been very good friends ever since.
The film was based off a 2007 short Jay And Seth Versus The Apocalypse written with Jason Stone
This film must have been an immense amount of fun to make, and I can only imagine how many deleted scenes never made it into the final film. Any favourites?
Yeah, I was actually just reviewing the list of the ones we’re putting on the DVD. We’re putting like 10 of them on the DVD. There was this really funny thing when Aziz Ansari was telling Rihanna that they had to make a song together, and he was pitching like the worst song you’ve ever heard. Initially when Emma Watson and Craig Robinson and Jay met, Michael Cera stormed into the conversation and then kept saying that he needed somewhere to sleep because he was homeless, and then he’d asked Emma if he could sleep at her house. And then Craig was saying that everyone knew how inevitable it is that she and Michael Cera were going to fuck one day. And they Jay asks Michael Cera if he could bum a smoke off him, and then he throws a lit cigarette in Jay’s face, and then pulls out his last cigarette and gives it Jay, and gives him a hug and kiss on the cheek and then walks away. There are a whole bunch more but that was one of my faves.
That whole party scene was so much fun to watch. Are actual Hollywood parties anything like that?
There are some parties that are kind of like that. Generally you’ll have a party and be like how the fuck did that person get here? Like Seth had a halloween party once and before you knew it David O. Russell was chilling in the corner alone, and Quentin Tarantino was arguing about his costume with my wife in the kitchen, and we were just like what the fuck is happening right now? We wanted Rihanna there, because she invited us to her birthday party once – this massive birthday party bash – and we said we were interested in working with here, and she just said well come to my birthday party. And we couldn’t make it because of work, but that was one of the things that played in our heads.
I was also at a party once, and this was my first week ever down here [in LA], and literally nothing cool like this happened for at least two years after this, but we went to a party in the Hollywood Hills and it was like a real Hollywood party, with like Paris Hilton and shit like that. I’ll never forget, me and Seth stayed really late, and I was on the balcony with this guy who was a big producer. He was cleaning up the glasses to bring off the balcony and into the kitchen, and then he just looked at me at Seth and went fuck it!, and he threw all these glasses off the balcony down the Hollywood Hills. And then I went back to the kitchen, and saw Paris Hilton – making sure that no one was looking – and she was just scarfing down Macaroni and Cheese straight out of the pot.
Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us. That sounds like a great party.
You know, that was a good party, the Hollywood party we had in the movie. I’ve had better fucking parties than that. The Hollywood part does not make them awesome. The awesome parties are when you just really sit with your friends and drink in a circle.
I’m sure everyone at some point has talked about, or at least thought about who would play them in a movie of their own life. With Superbad, that dream was made a reality for you. How much are you like Michael Cera, either in real life, or like his character in This Is The End?
Hopefully there’s no one in the world like Michael Cera’s character in This Is The End. I’ve never done cocaine, I’m pretty sure Michael’s never done cocaine. Or maybe Michael does a lot of cocaine, I don’t know. No one would say oh, he reminds me of the other guy, but we’re both very Canadian I think. We both have that mellow Canadian-ness. We’re not very aggressive fellas. In Superbad, Seth and Jonah are a little faster with their wit, and they’re more aggressive in conversation, and me and Michael are a little slower and more mellow.
Is it true you actually appear in front of the camera in this film?
In something like the third to last shot I’m with my wife, and she’s in a wedding gown. I have a gigantic beard like Moses. It’s real.
From left to right: Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Robinson, Mr. Robinson Towel
What are some of your favourite comedies?
I love Space Balls, I love The Jerk, Blazing Saddles. The Big Lebowski changed my life. Harold and Kumar, I thought that was a great movie, and without that movie Pineapple Express would have never happened. It made people believe that weed could be funny. Fucking Hot Tub Time Machine was the fucking bomb. They’re making a sequel right now. Craig Robinson is in New Orleans shooting right now.
Speaking of Craig Robinson, I have a friend that sweats so much in his sleep that he keeps a towel beside his bed. Does Craig actually carry that towel around with him in real life?
That a 100% real Craig Robinson trait. He takes it with him every goes. Everything he’s actually wearing is Craig’s; he wears that necklace, those jeans, those shoes. He owned that “Take Your Panties Off” shirt before, we just said dress like you in the movie, even the towel. The only difference is that he usually carries a black towel around, instead of a white one.
You and Seth bravely took to the internet last Friday night to answer a series of questions to the public on Reddit. There was this weird pocket of the conversation that evolved into porno-izing your films. Among these titles were Pineapple Sexpress, The Green Horny, and my personal favourite This Is The Tip. Would you ever consider branching out into this industry, and if so which film do you think would translate best?
[Laughs] We’re always two inches away from making pornography. Any day it could happen. I would say… Funny Penis, I would make that.
I would watch that.
This movie was your (and Seth’s) directorial debut. Can you tell us non-Hollywood folk at home what the different roles are between the producer and the director?
Our shitty analogy we’ve been using is: the producer gets all your money and arranged where you’re going to build your car. And then the writer’s the guy who goes in there and actually builds the car. And then the producer and director both make sure it looks good. And then the director gets to jump in the car, drive it, and have all the fun.
No matter what your movies are about, they always boil down to a very real relationship between two best buds. What’s it like working with your very own best bud on all of these films?
Rad. Super nice. Most people have to work with a bunch of assholes they don’t like, and I get to work with my best friend.
Jeremy Schipper is an intern at Toronto Standard. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeromeoschipps.