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In the new film ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’, in theaters in the U.K. on July 13, the presence of Adam Brody as Penny’s (Keira Knightley) very-soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend Owen brings comic absurdity to a dangerous situation as the asteroid “Matilda” is heading towards earth and desperate people are causing a riot. Knightley found filming the sequence rewarding, above and beyond what it meant for her character’s evolution. She reports, “Penny has parked her car in a small space and can’t get it out easily, so I got to bash these other cars! I don’t know that Steve Carell enjoyed it so much, but I really did.”
Carell confirms, “I’m not a big mayhem guy. Now, I do think it was highly cathartic for Keira, because she’s not much of a driver back in the U.K. and she readily admits that. Here was a good learning experience for her, actually feeling a car smashing into another car, giving her a sense memory of reality for that day when she does in fact start to drive.”
“Our amazing crew got the scene done, with stunt work and pyrotechnics and vermin, as how I had envisioned it,” enthuses director Lorene Scafaria. “Which was, basically, as a mini-version of a sequence I admired in ‘Children of Men’.
“I also had fun filming our Friendsy’s [restaurant] scenes, where things get chaotic for Dodge and Penny. Our Friendsy’s extras should win MVP awards.”
Knightley laughs, “Penny thinks it’s excellent at Friendsy’s, then all of a sudden it goes a little bit wonky…T.J. Miller and Gillian Jacobs are so funny – completely brilliant – in this crazy sequence.” Scafaria notes, “Every few days, we’d have new ‘special guest stars!’ It was a wonderful group of actors.” Many of these performers had adjusted their schedules so that they could be part of the highly original story. As Connie Britton, who was contacted directly by Scafaria to be in the movie, remarks, “For an actor, it’s great to have it on the page – who and what your character is, and with Lorene you get that.
“The sequence I’m in is hilarious and provocative, and during filming of one scene Steve Carell and I turned to each other and said, ‘This is heartbreaking.’” Britton adds, “The environment on the set was welcoming and comfortable because Lorene is a great collaborator.” Carell states, “You would never have known that this was Lorene’s directorial debut. She knew what she wanted to achieve, and set a tone of support and grace.”
Producer Mark Roybal remarks, “Lorene is a confident filmmaker with a distinct voice. She inspires everyone to work at a high level.” Production got underway in mid-May 2011 – with one date, believed by some to be the set date of the end of the world, among the first shooting days of the 34-day filming schedule. “We were all curious that whole day,” admits Scafaria. “We stopped in our tracks around 9:00 PM because someone did the math and said that was ‘the time.’ Everyone stood there and nothing happened, so we went on to the next shot.” Producer Steve Golin muses, “It was a good omen. Our movie will be released not long before the Mayan calendar runs out and the world is supposedly ending, so we have another ‘stop date’ to, well, look forward to.”
Image Courtesy of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World