We’ve all imagined the end of the world – along with the attendant floods, fires, earthquakes, pandemic viruses, and the asteroid hurtling towards Earth which will be destroyed at the last possible moment by human intervention of epic proportions. That is not the end of the world as writer-director Lorene Scafaria sees it.
In writing her feature directorial debut, Focus Features' “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” starring Steve Carell and Keira Knigtley, Scafaria was more intrigued by what could happen to ordinary people – and how they would interact with each other – in the days preceding The Event.
Scafaria found herself casting a cockeyed glance at “apocalyptic tradition.” She notes, “I had a small obsession with ‘the end is near,’ and a larger obsession with love. So it became a fun challenge to see what would happen when worlds collide – so to speak. I figured I would keep the screenplay at a very human level in scope and tell a story of relationships; what people would do, and how a person with feelings towards another person would be affected.”
The writer/director didn’t necessarily want to make “a ‘road movie.’ I kept trying not to write it as that, though eventually I gave in and started to embrace the concept a little more – but I keep halting the lead characters’ road trip because of basic things like gas. They find themselves in some pickles along their route.”
A couple of drafts were written, but work stopped and Scafaria’s perspective changed once her father fell ill and passed away. She reflects, “I took six months off. Then I came back and rewrote the script, concentrating more on the concept of time – having it, and losing it.” Ultimately, she offers, “There is a lot in this story that is me; of the two lead characters, I’m more the Penny type, but I have a strong dose of Dodge in me as well.
“Up until this tipping point, these two people have lived their lives very differently. As much as Dodge has avoided life, Penny has been diving in head first. Together, they find they can face the end of the world.”
Producer Mark Roybal notes that he found the script “wholly original and surprising. The story has a big concept, yet never loses sight of its humanity because Lorene is always in tune with evoking real emotions. I was tremendously moved by it – I found myself laughing and crying by the end of the script, which is very rare. I think my strong response was emotional because Lorene is telling a story about a thrilling, thought-provoking situation in which you are potentially going on the most important journey of your life by yourself.”
Well before the whole world and/or one’s own life might end, every one of us ponders how we will face that moment. Steve Carell says, “I think Lorene Scafaria’s story beautifully transcends aspects of the normalcy of life. The movie is about finding the value of life, and finding what makes you happy.”
Scafaria reflects, “Time is the great equalizer, and our time here is limited. Everyone can relate to that, and hopefully learn from it. One of the most precious things you can offer to another person is your time.”
Keira Knightley offers, “For these two, it’s about what suddenly becomes important. I think what’s actually being said here is, why do we not live as we should live? Why do we not see what things are important? Why do we not spend time with the people that we love? We act as if we have ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,’ but what if we don’t?
“That’s why I found the story so optimistic; aside from the occasional riot, positive things will come forth from humanity at the turning point.”
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4, Greenbelt3 and Trinoma).