DECEMBER 21, 2012 marks the end of the Mayan calendar and, if predictions are correct, it will also pinpoint the demise of this planet we call home.
What better timing for the release of a bitter-sweet movie called Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, which somehow remains optimistic despite the cataclysmic backdrop of a 70-mile wide asteroid by the name of Matilda hurtling towards Earth.
“This is the flip side of Armageddon,” says Steve Carell, referring to the 1998 movie in which Bruce Willis successfully detonates an apocalyptic-sized asteroid and thus saves humanity. “There’s no president with a hotline to the astronauts who are going to blow up the asteroid,” he continues.
“It’s what’s happening while all of those things are going on; how ordinary human beings respond, and the choices they make when they know that everything is going to be over in a matter of days.”
Carell, 49, plays Dodge, a softly-spoken insurance salesman whose wife [played by his real-life spouse Nancy] leaves him the moment they hear that the last attempt to counter Matilda has failed and the world will end in an estimated 21 days.
“I read the script and could not stop thinking about it. It haunted me. It was funny, sweet, emotionally intense at times, and a story that I hadn’t seen,” says Carell, who’s best known for his roles in The 40 Year Old Virgin, Anchorman and the American version of The Office.
Enter his flighty and free-spirited neighbour Penny, played by Keira Knightley, a woman he’s only ever passed in their communal corridor until she turns up one night in tears over her self-absorbed boyfriend.
When Penny later belatedly delivers a lost letter from his high school sweetheart, it prompts Dodge to help Penny reach her family back in England - in her car. And so, just as a full-blown riot breaks out, the two misfits embark on a final road trip.
Admitting to a small obsession with the notion of the end of time and a larger obsession with love, Scafaria says it became a fun challenge to see what would happen when worlds collide.
What could happen to ordinary people and how would they interact with each other in the days preceding The Event? “Up until this tipping point, Dodge and Penny are two people who have lived their lives very differently,” explains Scafaria.
“As much as Dodge has avoided life, Penny has been diving in head first. Together, they find they can face the end of the world.
“I think this, in a big way, is what our movie is about: people connecting with one another, or attempting to, when faced with something momentous.
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World is released tomorrow