Bruce Willis Failed: Lorene Scafaria on Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

The writer/director of Steve Carell's new apocalyptic comedy talks the science of asteroids and total hedonistic debauchery.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


SPOILER ALERT: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World isn’t just a cute title. The world really ends in this movie, but it’s a fun ride to the end. Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightley) fall in love as they witness others turn to debauchery in the final days. We got a lot of questions in when writer/director Lorene Scafaria did her roundtable interviews for the film.


CraveOnline: Is there any extra scene after the credits?

Lorene Scafaria: No, no. A sequel?


I thought there might not be an Easter egg for this one.

I don't think so, no. There was a dedication right at the end. That’s all there is. For Joe and Pat, Joe’s my father who passed away a few years ago and Pat is the mother of Joy Gorman who produced the film. She passed maybe eight years ago and we’re really good friends so we bonded over our loss so it was really important to me to dedicate the film to them.


Is the end of the world a license to be completely un-PC?

[Laughs] I don't know. What do they call it, YOLA, you only live once? I think people are sort of gravitating towards that. I definitely went asking a lot of people what they would do. I did a lot of human research and just asked friends of mine what they would do. It did seem like for the most part everyone wanted to surround themselves with friends and families, but a lot of other people were going hog wild. Heroin and orgies seemed to be on the table somehow.


Did you have any issues with the MPAA over the rating with all the outrageous behavior in the movie?

I always was trying to maintain an R rating for it, even though people were arguing against that a lot with me, saying like, “Oh, if you just take out a couple of these curse words, if you take out the kids drinking and everything.” To me, I just didn’t want to limit anything. I just didn’t want to put those kinds of limitations on what I think would be a pretty debaucherous sort of time. Nothing went too raw.


Was there ever any danger it would go further into NC-17?

Surprisingly no. Nobody seemed too put off by it. I’m not sure which part of it would’ve done it. Probably the kid drinking I think is one of those things but that was something, obviously it’s a good comedic moment but I think rules are gone. I just wanted it to be a sort of lawless kind of wild west sort of environment and when I was initially thinking of the script, I was trying to think of it as a western actually, which is why things like the harmonica ended up in there because to me the posse on the hill is sort of the asteroid. You can’t really outrun your fate in that way. Even though it’s not really a western obviously, that’s where a lot of that came from.


I’m always interested in what’s left when the world is ending and people stop producing things. Did you have fun thinking about what would be left in the last two weeks of the world?

Yeah, I was trying to give it at least enough time where it wasn’t so much of food running out, like enough time for people to be thinking about these things but not so much time. The riot happens, but it’s like what are they even rioting for, these idiots? What are they doing? What are they looting? I did love thinking that maybe a T.G.I. Fridays type place would still be in business, that there’d be people who’d be amped to go to work and psyched to see each other. Certainly the anchorman came from thinking about the first Gulf War and those journalists were in the heart of Bagdad reporting. You realized this is what their lives are about, chasing this story and being at ground zero there. So I thought there must be these people who want to keep it going, his cleaning lady and people like that. Certainly part of it I think are coping mechanisms and other parts of it are rituals and things that people are just used to in their lives. Thinking of someone mowing their lawn, it was so fun to think in any other context, it’s just a guy mowing his lawn but here what does that mean? Is he doing this because he doesn’t know any better? Is he doing it because this is his favorite thing to do? Is it just a Sunday to him? What is it? But I did talk to people who were like, “I’d go to work. I would go to work and I’d be so afraid that no one else would be there and that would be it.” It was fun to talk to people about that. In that way, I was trying to explore sort of the stages of grief as it went. It does feel like denial is in the beginning there for Dodge and all the reason to go back to work. Again, because it’s so surreal, I think you find yourself doing things you’d never imagine that you would do.


Did you talk to scientists about how this could actually happen?

I did. I did and I did some research on what it would actually look like. There’s an amazing simulated video of it online which is why I picked the asteroid to be this size. It shows a 70 mile wide asteroid hitting earth and it takes seven minutes for this firestorm to go around the globe. And Pink Floyd is playing just to add to it, to the terror of it. I just always liked the idea that the mission from Armageddon, Bruce Willis failed and what would take place from there. I was always sort of hoping that science is a little secondary to this.