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Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg versus the apocalypse

BY GEORGE LANG Modified: June 11, 2013 at 12:14 am •  Published: June 12, 2013

“It was really simple,” said Goldberg, who co-wrote “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” with Rogen. “We just kind of discussed who of these guys are associated with one another, are really funny and have a level of fame that works with the concept of the film. And it just came down to Danny, Franco, Craig and Jonah.”

Casting might have been simple, but giving “This is the End” a satisfying story arc was anything but easy. Pitting famous people against the end of the world was a good concept, Rogen said, but it took the duo about five years to figure out what was at stake for the fictional real-life friends.

“It took us a long time to realize where the movie should go — that it should all be about redemption,” Rogen said. “Just because the world's ending doesn't mean you can't redeem yourself in some way. Once we realized that, it really brought the whole movie into shape. It's like a morality play in a lot of ways, you know?”

And in a lot ways, it is also like “Ghostbusters.” It never directly cribs from that classic 1980s comedy — and the laughs are 50 times filthier — but “This is the End” is about seemingly ordinary guys with multiple movie credits who are forced to deal with supernatural phenomena. Even if a third “Ghostbusters” film never gets made, the original 1984 film has its spiritual spawn.

“I don't think we realized just how much while we were making it,” Goldberg said. “In the pie chart of my brain growing up, there's a huge slice for ‘Ghostbusters.'”

“In a lot of ways, that movie totally kind of dictated what we do,” Rogen added. “Just the idea of regular guys in these crazy situations reacting to them in a way that you feel like you and your friends would react to those situations. That's kind of like the blueprint.”