Talkpocalypse Now: Rapture-Palooza’s Rob Corddry, John Francis Daley, Rob Huebel, & Craig Robinson
by Dan Casey on June 7, 2013
No matter how you prepare, avoiding the apocalypse at your local multiplex this summer is a nigh impossible task. From stoner comedies like This is the End and It’s a Disaster to Scientologist-saves-the-world fare like After Earth and Oblivion, it seems like audiences just want to see the world go to hell. Today marks the release of yet another avatar of armageddon in the Paul Middleditch-directed Rapture-Palooza, a sprawling ensemble comedy that finds Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley left behind on Earth after the Biblical Rapture and their struggle to prevent the impending apocalypse. With an all-star cast including Craig Robinson (as Satan incarnate), Rob Corddry, Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon, Tyler Labine, and more, it’s a sweetly sardonic, tongue-in-cheek take on mankind’s final days.
To take you deeper inside the world of Rapture-Palooza with its loose improvisational feel, weed-smoking demons, and seriously stacked cast, I caught up with stars John Francis Daley, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Rob Huebel to find out just how they’d fare in the end of days, the difficulties of shooting a feature film in 18 days, and why we’re all so obsessed with the world going to hell in a hand basket.
Rob Corddry (Mr. House)
Nerdist: I really enjoyed you in the film. You’re a real candidate for “Father of the Year,” really earning that mug.
Rob Corddry: Totally. It’s all in the mustache.
N: Of course. It says, “I’m here to parent the shit out of you.”
RC: Exactly. Let the mustache do the heavy lifting.
N: Tell us a bit about your character. Is he based on your own personal parenting techniques?
RC: Based heavily on my parents… [laughs] No, he wasn’t a good father before the end of the world. I imagine this wouldn’t be the first time that John Francis Daley’s character has heard he’s not good enough from him. I imagine the mother was the driving force behind his sterling character.
N: Well, there’s a reason she’s the one who got raptured.
RC: Yeah, there you go.
N: I know this was a compacted shooting process – only 18 days. What’s the process like when you’re on a reduced schedule like that?
RC: Well, it’s fast. When I hear 18 days, I’m like, “Wasn’t it shorter?” It seems impossible. Who’s going to make a movie in 18 days? I love that Lionsgate started this idea in a way; this was their M.O. and they proved it could be done. The key was getting a guy like Paul Middleditch who could shoot fast.
N: I heard he was doing an absurd number of set-ups each day.
RC: He did a lot of commercials – Paul – so he’s used to moving stuff around and saving money. Everything in TV and movies moves fast, but I’ve never seen anything that quick.
N: I have to imagine that it was aided and abetted by the fact that you have so many talented improvisers in the cast because you can keep rolling.
RC: Or it held things up a lot! [laughs]
N: True, true, you can’t give too much free reign or they’ll be jokesturbating all day.
RC: Me and Huebel – our characters had zero relationship on page, but we wound up interacting quite a bit.
N: Something I’ve noticed in some of your film work – the apocalypse and hot tubs keep coming up. Is this a conscious effort on your part?
RC: Yeah, I have three things in my new rider the the film has to abide by: only send me things that are at least tangentially about the end of the world, includes a hot tub – and yes, you can call it a jacuzzi if you want, I’m not a monster – and everyone on set looks me in the eyes at all time. Even when they’re not talking to me. Or in a scene with someone else. It’s weird.
N: That explains why they were always staring off in the distance when you weren’t on screen.
RC: I demand it.
N: You deserve it. You should have your demands met.
RC: I’m like the retarded Van Halen of the B list.
N: That is the M&M equivalent, I suppose. So, what else do you have coming our way in the next few months? I’m pretty excited for a certain sequel.
RC: We start shooting [Hot Tub Time Machine 2] in New Orleans in June. That’s what I’m concentrating most on now. We’re editing the fifth season of Children’s Hospital, so that’ll come out mid-June. I try not to think about any of the other stuff because I don’t have to.
N: That’s fair. One last question: how do you think you’d actually fare in the Rapture?
RC: Well, I’m certainly not going to heaven. Cause I think you’ve kind of got to be a douche to get raptured. If that’s all true…I mean who the fuck knows. Come on. I’d just be on board with it. I’d be riding ziplines. I’d go right to looting, buy a shotgun and shoot anyone who gets near my house.
Craig Robinson (Anti-Christ)
Nerdist: Congratulations on the film; you were hilarious. This was your debut into the world of producing, correct?
Craig Robinson: My debut into the world of producing, my debut as a leading man. I’m so glad you responded that way. This movie’s been in the can for about 2.5-3 years, so it’s such a relief to finally get it out. As it comes along, thank you for spreading the word.
N: Well, it helps that the humor is pretty evergreen. You’re not referencing a song that was popular two years ago and looking dated.
CR: Right, right, right.
N: Right now it seems like the apocalypse is on everyone’s brain. Everyone’s doing an apocalypse movie right now – yourself included.
N: Exactly! Something else I’ve noticed. Jacuzzis and hot tubs seem to be recurring themes in your work…
CR: I won’t do a movie unless it has something to do with a jacuzzi, a hot tub or the Rapture. No, some of these things just overlap and this happens, especially when we shot Peeples in 2010, Rapture-Palooza in 2011 and This Is The End in 2012 and now they’re all coming out within a month or two of each other.
N: Seems like happy coincidence. I know you had a shortened shooting schedule. Tell me what that was like.
CR: It was hectic. Props to Paul Middleditch, our director, who comes from commercials. He would do like 55 set-ups a day; it was unbelievable. It was to the point where he knows the cameras well; he’d get behind the camera and start shooting. It was awesome. It’s one of those things that you have to deal with. You want to do it? 18 days – let’s go. Bam!
N: Awesome. Obviously, I imagine having talented improvisers on set helped fill in some of the gaps, letting you roll with the punches.
CR: Huebel, Corddry, Scheer, Lennon, Gasteyer, Francis Daley, Anna – it was a plethora of who you want to throw the ball to. I felt like Tom Brady. You could do whatever you want.
N: Do you have a favorite moment that didn’t make it into the final cut?
CR: It was a lot of Huebel and Corddry stuff, and some of my takes where I’m yelling at the little kid. For the most part, I’m very happy with the cut.
N: It has a very naturalistic feel to it, which is nice. You really nailed normal dialogue, the kind of stuff you’d hear people saying to each other.
CR: “Let’s go fuck in these bushes right here.” [laughs]
N: Less so your lines; I don’t hang out with many Anti-Christs. Speaking of the devil, tell us a bit about your character. You’re Satan incarnate, or at least a vessel for him.
CR: He knows that he owns the world. He poisoned a bunch of dignitaries to secure that power. He’s got his finger on the button, ready to bring them down, and he feels like he can do anything. Anything he says goes and a security team around him; I relished playing him. He’s got this big house, big imagination and these sharp clothes. It was a lot of fun having Anna over there being as cute as she is and just always flirting in the most inappropriate way. It was so much fun.
N: He definitely seems like the kind of character that would be a blast to play.
CR: Yeah, he just thinks he’s being charming while saying the worst shit. That’s good because I drew on all my comedy, late-night drunk chops to be as filthy as possible. Usually I have a keyboard with me though. [laughs]
N: You’ve got a pretty busy season coming up. What else do you have coming down the line?
CR: I just shot a pilot for NBC, Mr. Robinson, so we’re waiting to see what happens with that. If it doesn’t, I do have Hot Tub Time Machine 2 this summer to film. We’ll see what happens after that.
N: Oh, awesome. Are you looking to do more producing ventures in the future?
CR: Yes, yes, definitely. Especially after Mr. Robinson where I actually got into the editing bay….
N: Oh wow, that’s a whole other can of worms, so to speak.
CR: There’s no turning back now. It grows you as an actor. It definitely grows you as a producer. Working under Greg Daniels’ tutelage and with these other amazing minds, like editor Claire Scanlon, I have to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Nerdist: With so many apocalypse movies hitting theaters, what do you think the appeal is of the end of the world? Why are we so obsessed with it right now?
John Francis Daley: Honestly, I have no idea. It’s weird how these things all happen at the same time. There were two asteroid movies that came out in the same year. And other things. I’m drawing a blank, but they always tend to come in pairs. With this, part of it was the 2012 fears and that guy that was talking about the Rapture, but it’s an appealing environment for comedy because sometimes when you deal with the worst case scenario, you can make it funny.
N: How did you get involved in the project?
JFD: Well, it came to me in the summer of 2011. I was on hiatus from Bones. I thought the script was really funny and different. They had Anna Kendrick attached at that point, and Craig Robinson, who I knew already and loved. It was very appealing for me to come on board. When we acquired the rest of the cast, it was extremely exciting because, I mean, so many funny people in one movie. Working with them on set was the best vacation I could have taken.
N: And it was a fairly compact shooting schedule. How was that?
JFD: Yeah, I was there for about a month in Vancouver. That entire month, the sun came out twice. I think it’s such a beautiful city and working on such a ridiculous thing with so many funny people – it didn’t feel like work.
N: The gloomy weather must have helped set the apocalyptic tone.
JFD: True, true – it was very appropriate.
N: One thing that I really enjoyed was (that) the dialogue – especially yours and Anna Kendrick’s – felt very naturalistic.
JFD: Yeah, that was something we really tried to do. We were just reacting off of the insanity before us. Because of the reduced shooting schedule, we had like a day and a half to rehearse. It was basically the weekend before we started shooting. Our goal was to make it as natural and colloquial as possible.
N: I know you guys did a lot of improv on set. Do you have a favorite unscripted moment that didn’t make it into the final cut?
JFD: There’s a really long run between Corddry and Huebel, when we first go to the Beast’s mansion, and they literally did six minutes of riffing between the two of them that I thought was hilarious. The other thing was John Michael Higgins reacting to the television when Orlando gets blown up. He had so many different alts for that. He was almost impossible to keep a straight face around.
N: How do you think you’d fare in an actual apocalypse?
JFD: If we’re talking strictly a Christian apocalypse, you know, I’m not a practicing Christian, so I don’t think I’d fare too well. I guess that makes me automatically a sinner. I haven’t killed anyone yet; I’ve only maimed a few people, so I guess somewhere in the middle of good and evil.
N: I appreciate that you said “yet.” It’s always nice to have options.
JFD: Exactly. Who knows who’s going to piss me off in the future?
N: In recent years, you’ve been doing a fair bit of screenwriting. Do you find that you prefer acting or writing over the other?
JFD: It’s like apples and oranges. Obviously, we all know apples are better than oranges. I enjoy both equally in different ways. With acting, there’s less responsibility to create something that works because it’s already written on the page. Then, you have to get a little bit deeper into your character and focus on the one aspect of the script you can control, which is your character. Whereas, with screenwriting, you’re controlling the entire thing. It’s a lot of responsibility and I guess I’d say it’s really fun to see what you write end up on screen, but it’s equally as fun to actually act and perform in things.
N: You have two sequels people are looking forward too - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Horrible Bosses 2. Any updates you can give us on those?
JFD: I think they’re still in development on Bosses 2, so I don’t really have any timeline for that. With Cloudy 2, I know it’s supposed to come out in September. I’ve seen early screenings of that and it looks amazing. A lot of what I saw was just storyboarded, but the few glimpses of CG work is remarkable. That movie was so much fun to write because you can get away with anything as long as it’s not R-rated. You can push the envelope as far as the gags because nothing is off limits – other than the F-word. And nudity. Which we managed to incorporate in very subtle ways.
N: It seems like the kind of children’s book that’s just begging for a gritty reboot.
JFD: [laughs] Oh, there’s an X-rated version of Cloudy coming out.
N: Just a heavy emphasis on the meatballs?
JFD: Uh huh – that’s it.
N: What challenges does writing for animation present versus live-action?
JFD: The challenge of animation is figuring out a way to make each joke safe for the whole family. Part of the fun of writing Bosses was that you can really get away with whatever you want, but it’s a fun challenge to find clever jokes that appeal to both kids and adults without offending anyone.
N: In addition to that, what else can we expect for you?
JFD: We’re still in prep for Vacation, which [Jonathan Goldstein and I] are set to direct. Season 9 of Bones is on the way. And we also have a couple of writing projects and TV projects we’re working on that will be announced later this summer.
Rob Huebel (Head of Security)
Nerdist: I don’t know what’s happening, but everyone is making an apocalypse film right now.
Rob Huebel: Well, we have to before the world ends. I mean, everyone knows that the world is gonna end this year, so we might as well get in all of our apocalyptic comedies
N: Because we’re going to be judged on the quality of our scripts.
RH: This is all the aliens are gonna find. They’re going to find the last batch of movies we did. We all know that DVDs are the only things that can survive the flames that will consume the earth. They’ll find this, This Is The End… what else is there? There’s an Edgar Wright one.
N: Right, The World’s End, there was Warm Bodies a while back. That’s zombies, but still.
RH: Right! Warm Bodies! Corddry did that a while back, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. I did that.
N: Tell us about your character. You’re clearly the employee of the month.
RH: Yeah, I’m basically the lackey to the Anti-Christ, which is a terrible job. It seems like it’d be a good job. It seems like you’d get all the chicks that the Anti-Christ didn’t want, but that’s not how it works. At all. When I took that part, I figured it’d be great. I’d be hanging out with the Anti-Christ, partying and hanging with a bunch of girls in bikinis, but really I just get yelled at the whole time. And slapped around. He’s a tough boss.
N: He seems like a tough guy to work for. Of all the characters, most people will be able to identify with you because everyone has had that exact…well maybe not that exact boss.
RH: Everyone’s had a shitty boss.
N: Right, everyone’s had a boss as hyperbolically shitty as the Anti-Christ.
RH: Of course it stands to reason that the worst boss in the world would be Satan incarnate. He just has a huge uncontrollable ego, uncontrollable appetite for everything, so that just falls to me to have to get him everything. It’s tough, you know? I’m getting yelled at, slapped around, and it comes out at the very end of the movie that I’ve been raped by him. [shaking his head, uncomfortable laughing]
N: Sex scenes that didn’t quite make it into the movie.
RH: Yeah. [laughs] We didn’t have the budget to shoot the scenes properly.
N: Especially the way you wanted to.
RH: So, yeah, it’s implied that I was raped by the Anti-Christ.
N: What a dick.
RH: Yeah, he’s a real asshole. It’s really surprising that he would be such a jerk.
N: You guys had something of a compacted shooting schedule – only 18 days. How was that experience?
RH: Well, I think Lionsgate smartly was like, “Let’s see if we can make a movie for not a ton of money in a short amount of time.” When we did this a couple years ago, they did a few. I think they did three, and I think they’re all coming out soon. They’ve all been edited and they’re in various stages of release or post-production. It was an interesting experiment at the time to see if you could crank out a movie in Canada for not a billion dollars.
The upside of that is you have to be really light on your feet and you don’t have time to overthink things. They very smartly got a bunch of funny improvisers together and said, “Okay, here’s the script, so we’re gonna shoot this and also if you have stuff you want to improvise and make this better, go for it.” We had a lot of free reign to improvise and play off of each other, which is great.
The director – this guy Paul Middleditch – had a background in commercials, and in the world of commercials it’s all about time. You usually have one day to shoot a commercial, you know? That was his background, so he was great for that. He figured out where things were going to happen as far as effects, CGI, crows that swear at us, and locusts that have foul mouths. It proves that it can be done. Now, everyone in Hollywood is going to hate us because every movie is going to be done like this. Every movie.
N: Right – you Kickstart it, then you have one week to make it.
RH: Tom Cruise’s next movie is going to be off Kickstarter, shot in three days.
N: What’s coming up next for you? I know you’ve got Hell Baby coming up.
RH: Yeah, Hell Baby is a film from Tom Lennon and Ben Garant from Reno 911. Tom’s in this movie. They wrote and directed that, and Corddry’s the lead, Leslie Bibb, and a lot of other funny people. Keegan Michael Key from Key and Peele and Paul Scheer. So, we went to Sundance with that in January and that got sold to Millennium, I think. It’s coming out sometime over the summer. I also just did a pilot for CBS with Patrick Warburton called Jacked Up. He’s an ex-baseball player that’s trying to transition from the major leagues back into normal civilian life. I’m his sort of best friend that is full of terrible ideas as he tries to readjust to normal life.
N: Everyone needs a friend like that.
RH: [laughs] Right, everyone needs a terrible friend. So, I just shot that and I did another pilot for ABC with David Spade. So, basically, if you were on Rules of Engagement last year, I’m on your pilot. I have a smaller part on that one. It’s called Bad Management, and the lead on that is a really funny woman named Sharon Horgan who did a show called Pulling on the BBC. A British show. Both of those pilots, Hell Baby, and Children’s Hospital will come out this summer. And hopefully we’ll be at Comic-Con partying with all you guys.
N: Grippin’ and sippin’ on some Tony Stark’s head-shaped theme cocktails?
RH: High fiving a bunch of sweaty dudes. Comic-Con is so funny because it’s so fun, but there’s so many people down there and everyone is so sweaty.
N: I don’t have a sense of smell, so I sort of dodged that bullet.
RH: Oh, really? Wait, how is that possible? Were you born without it?
N: It’s a very tragic story. No, I just turned thirteen and it went away. I’m like the world’s shittiest X-Man.
RH: That’s a terrible superpower.
N: Pretty much. Ladies, feel free to fart away, but don’t leave the gas on.
RH: I’ve been farting this whole interview. I was wondering why you didn’t say anything.
N: Well, I’m exceedingly polite.
RH: That is a really funny X-Men power. “This guy can’t smell anything! Let’s bury him in a pile of shit!” Anyway, we’ll find out about these pilots pretty soon. And, of course, Rapture-Palooza 2.
N: Revenge of the Paloozas?
Rapture-Palooza is available on VOD and in theaters now. Have you seen the film? How would you survive the Rapture? Let us know in the comments below!