For actor Jay Baruchel, the key to success of his blisteringly funny new comedy satire "This is the "End" is the willingness of its stars to poke fun at themselves and the Hollywood lifestyle.
Baruchel told me in a recent interview that spoofing yourself is not only good for the soul of the comedy, but an elixir for the spirit of the actor off-screen.
"Everything is so fleeting, in this business in particular -- especially considering it is so image and personality-based that, even if you're playing a different character, what you're doing for a living as an actor, is a shell of your innermost emotional spectrum," Baruchel said. "So, you have to, ideally, develop a thick skin and sense of humor, or failing them, at least the ability of not taking yourself too seriously, because there will be times when you are humbled, inevitably. I think a key to longevity is being able to see how ridiculous you are."
"This is the End" begins with Baruchel flying into Los Angeles from his native Canada to reconnect with his old friend, Seth Rogen. Even though Baruchel is uncomfortable visiting La-La-Land, he's convinced by Rogen to attend a sex, drugs and celebrity-inundated soiree at James Franco's house.
Soon, though, Baruchel begins to regret his decision. Signs of the apocalypse appear without warning, and only a select few -- Baruchel, Rogen, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride -- manage to take refuge in Franco's house as several others are swallowed in a sinkhole of hell … and the devil is lurking for the survivors just around the corner.
Opening in theaters nationwide on Wednesday, the film, co-written and co-directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, also features cameos from the likes of Emma Watson, Jason Segel, Rihanna, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse -- all playing themselves.
See the trailer for "This is the End" below.
Baruchel, who was born in Ottawa, Ontario, said he isn't afraid to express feeling uncomfortable about Hollywood, because it somewhat mirrors his sentiments in real life. So while all of the core cast members play heightened versions of themselves in "This is the End," Baruchel said his reel persona "unfortunately" mirrors his real-life persona the most.
"I'd like to think I'm a bit less holier than thou and much less of a sad sack as I come off in the movie," Baruchel said, humbly. "But I live up in Montreal, and a lot of things I take issue with in the movie I take issue with in real life, as much as I might pretend otherwise."
That's not to say the actor completely hates L.A.
"I don't want to take anything away from the town of 8 million people, because clearly a lot of people like living there. It's just not my cup of tea," Baruchel, 31, said. "I don't feel I make a lot of sense there. There's a bunch of different reasons why, but I'm not at my happiest in Los Angeles."
There's a seething animosity between Baruchel and Hill in "This is the End," and while what you see is just a running gag in a movie, Baruchel said there's truth in the idea that some actors simply don't like each other.
"The world is filled with jerks. Jerks permeate every facet of society," Baruchel said, laughing. "And I have some guys that I count as my arch nemeses -- people who are just sort of like the Joker to my perceived Batman. Without a doubt, there are some clashes of some personalities.
"I try to get along with everyone. That's the way my mother raised me, but it always doesn't turn out that way," Baruchel added. "Like anything, though, when you have a crowd of big personalities in one room, it will yield some interesting conversations no matter what setting you're in."
The genesis of "This is the End" actually dates back to 2007, when Baruchel and Rogen shot the short film "Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse." Filmed in two days, the film features the two stuck in an apartment together during the apocalypse -- an idea that has been expanded upon considerably. This new end-of-the-world movie features comedic elements naturally, and what will likely be surprising to some, elements of horror.
The apocalypse, after all, is no walk in the park.
"The film sneaks a lot of stuff in. People are going to be buying their tickets, hopefully, expecting to see a certain movie and they'll get that," Baruchel explained. "But they'll get to see a lot of other stuff that they might not have expected. In many ways, we think it's Seth and Evan's take on the big summer movie, complete with stunts, action sequences and some crazy effects. It's this wonderful Frankenstein's monster of genres."
If you're a fan of any of the stars' films, you'll go into "This is the End" knowing that the stars aren't afraid to push the envelope when it comes to hard R-rated comedy -- and some jokes are bound to offend certain people.
Baruchel, who's diverse credits included "Knocked Up," "Tropic Thunder," "Million Dollar Baby" and the lead voice role in "How to Train Your Dragon," says he respects all audience members' points-of-view.
"People, myself included, have stuff they take really seriously, and you don't want to insult beliefs that are important to them," Baruchel observed. "That being said, if you try to make a movie for everyone, you'll most likely end up making a movie for no one.
The actor said at a certain point you have to "trust your instincts and the story you want to tell, and the movie you want to put out there."
"You have to accept the fact that it will be awesome to some people, and some people might not find it super-interesting and be offended by it," Baruchel said. "If you're being true to yourself, ideally it will connect with other people, and I think that's what we've done with this movie. I'm actually blown away by how inoffensive the movie is, considering how offensive it could have been."
BringMeTheNews film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.