‘How It Ends’ Takes On Last Day On Earth With A Star Cast That Filmed During Lockdown: ‘Nobody Had Nothing To Do’ | Culture & Leisure
Shooting a movie during a pandemic has its perks, like attracting a top-tier cast with nothing better to do and having empty, apocalyptic Los Angeles streets right at your fingertips.
All of this created the perfect storm for “How It Ends,” a Last Day on Earth comedy that was created when it felt like the end of the world.
The film, which premiered at the Tribeca Festival on Sunday, was designed entirely in quarantine by Brooklyn, New York-born Zoe Lister-Jones and her husband Daryl Wein.
“A lot of it was born of how we felt and what we were all facing collectively at this very unprecedented moment in history,” Lister-Jones told the Daily News. “Daryl and I tend to deal with these big, overwhelming existential questions through our work. So we started to describe a story that could talk about a lot of things we were facing without being specific to COVID, but still in an emotionally resonant atmosphere, which is the last day on Earth. “
Lister-Jones not only co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced the film with her husband, but stars as Liza, who must figure out how to spend her remaining hours before an asteroid hits.
Next to her is Younger Self, a walking, inner childish version of Liza, performed by Cailee Spaeny.
Liza’s initial plan for the day involves little more than wanting to “really get high and die,” until Younger Self convinces her that it’s time to face all of her regrets and turn them around.
This kicks off an adventurous walk around LA, where the couple meet characters animated by stars such as Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, and Nick Kroll.
“I don’t think we would have had the cast that we had if the pandemic hadn’t happened because nobody had anything to do,” Spaeny, 22, told The News. “So everyone was so excited to do something with themselves. And everyone’s comfort was different. For example, the Fred Armisen scene, he wanted to do it on his balcony. So we had all of these fun obstacles that lent themselves to the stage and challenged you to be creative.
After meeting an ex-boyfriend, Liza and her young self decide they are going to end the night at a big end of the world party thrown by Mandy, played by Whitney Cummings. But first, they want to confront their neglect issues with Zoe’s parents, played by Helen Hunt and Bradley Whitford, and clean the air with a close old friend played by Wilde.
“Olivia Wilde is a friend of mine, and we’ve never played together before and it was really fun having this opportunity,” said Lister-Jones, 38. “And that was the first time she had left the house, so the electricity in that scene and we were both really excited to see each other was so much fun. We all wanted it so much, even though we were afraid of it. .
“So many actors were like, ‘Am I going to be able to be funny now?’ And so here is this huge relief with so many of us when we were able to let go a little bit. ”
Along with all the crazy celebrity distractions, “How It Ends,” which hits theaters July 20, offers an intimate look at healing your inner child.
“In quarantine in particular, we were all facing our most vulnerable selves, or our younger selves,” Lister-Jones said. “So I started to do more research on the inner work of the child with my therapist. Daryl was doing it too. Cailee did that too. We were all trying to figure out how to allay those deep anxieties and fears that we were feeling at the time, and a lot of it had something to do with how we talk to the younger person inside of us.
“So that’s what gave birth to the idea. And due to the existential nature of the film, we liked the idea that there was a metaphysical portrayal of Younger Self that we could play with in the dialogue.
Not having to get a permit to close the streets was another plus for the quarantine shoot.
“It was guerrilla style fire,” Spaeny said. “The streets were really so empty. It was just when everything was starting to go crazy. So no one had come out. It’s a really cool time capsule from that moment and also a love letter to LA because I’ve never seen LA so still in a movie before.
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