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Director Lorene Scafaria Reveals How 'Life Is Beautiful' Influenced 'Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World' & More About The Film

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 20, 2012 at 9:58AM

There won't be any comedy arriving in theaters this summer boasting a higher concept than "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World." The story begins with a few weeks left to go before life on planet Earth is wiped out by an asteroid, and follows an unlikely pair -- Dodge and Penny -- as they head out on a road trip, so he can reunite with his high school sweetheart. And while comedies generally don't come in this kind of packaging, writer and director Lorene Scafaria rounded up one helluva cast to help her tell the tale.
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Lorene Scafaria Steve Carell Keira Knightley

There won't be any comedy arriving in theaters this summer boasting a higher concept than "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World." The story begins with a few weeks left to go before life on planet Earth is wiped out by an asteroid, and follows an unlikely pair -- Dodge and Penny -- as they head out on a road trip, so he can reunite with his high school sweetheart. But while comedies generally don't come in this kind of packaging, writer and director Lorene Scafaria rounded up one helluva cast to help her tell the tale.

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley take the two lead roles in the film, with a supporting crew including Patton Oswalt, Adam Brody, Derek Luke, Rob Corddry, Melanie Lynskey, TJ Miller, Connie Britton and more all lending their talents to this apocalyptic rom-com. Earlier this spring, we had the chance to chat with Scafaria about the film, and she happily shared the wide range of influences on the film, her thoughts on the rise of female-led comedies in Hollywood, what excited her about the premise and more. "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World" opens this Friday, read on below....

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World Steve Carell Keira Knightley
Patton Oswalt was a big fan of the script before he was cast, but hearing it out loud reassured Lorene Scarfaria that she had a winner
'Seeking A Friend' marks Scafaria's directorial debut, and you might be wondering how she managed to snag both Carell and Knightley to star in the movie. Well, having a strong script certainly helps. "I thought it was one of the best scripts I've read," Knightley told us at the beginning of the year. While just prior to SXSW, Oswalt enthused, "...the script was so fucking good!" adding that he was given it to read by a friend before he was even was even up for a role. As for Scafaria, it was once she heard the script out loud, that she realized she had something special on the page.

"We had done a table read of it a few months before sort of sending it out for casting and I think once we heard it out loud we could tell it was a real movie and would have the potential to get a good cast going, but I never imagined getting people like Patton Oswalt to do basically a cameo, or Keira Knightley to be interested," she said, when we shared with her what they told us. "I still always pictured it like such a small film that it was beyond my wildest dreams to get people like that. But, I think I just knew it was at least high concept enough where it felt like a film -- that separates it from most things that I write. So the idea that it was high concept enough and sort of hopefully covered themes that people might be interested in definitely got me going and you know we had great producers and a great studio already lined up and everything so it really was sort of hearing it out loud. It took hearing it out loud to feel like we really had something there."

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World Steve Carell Keira Knightley
The high concept still provided lots of room to develop and explore deeper themes
While some writers might find themselves constricted by such a precise premise, for Scafaria, there were many elements at play that she found interesting and was eager to explore. "I love that there's a really loud ticking clock, and I was most excited about telling a story about two people meeting under those kinds of circumstances. I sort of liked it as a metaphor for what it's like when people break up or go through a divorce or something like that and you're sort of in that place where you're like, 'I never want to get to know someone else, I never want to hear about somebody’s family' and all of that," she explained. "...falling in love and finding someone and spending time with important people and cultivating relationships is always most important to me. If you strip everything else away that has always rung true and I just thought what if you really don't have somebody and there's three weeks left. I mean are you going in search of someone or chasing the past? I assume someone would do that, and if not, the idea of meeting someone new seems so impossible in the same way that divorce or a break up would do to you."

"I just loved exploring the idea of what would happen to humanity on a very small level. How does it affect relationships and I've been very close to death and experiencing things like that, so it's just always fascinating to me...you can't believe who's sitting next to you when the big one hits, you know? It's sort of hard to believe who's there for you in those times and sometimes it is a stranger, sometimes it is someone you'd least expect, and I think there's something beautiful in that. But there almost always is going to be someone there but it may not be exactly who you thought," she continued. "Certainly for me, I've always been bizarrely surprised like, 'Really? This person's failing me right now and this person's coming through?' It's always fascinating."

This article is related to: Lorene Scafaria, Seeking A Friend For The End of The World


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