The all-star comedy ‘How It Ends’ embraces the uncertainty of pandemic life [SUNDANCE STUDIO]

It was roughly three months into coronavirus pandemic quarantine when co-directors and co-writers Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein decided to channel the emotions they were feeling into a new script.

“We were doing a lot of inner work on ourselves because we had so much time,” Wein says in a new interview with Gold Derby. “In addition to copious amounts of therapy, we were like, ‘Why don’t we take what we’re doing and learning here and maybe put it into a film and use the parameters of the pandemic as the guidelines for how we’d go out and make the film?’”

So they did. Shot last summer under strict health and safety recommendations that largely kept the production outside and the actors six-feet apart, the apocalypse comedy “How It Ends” stars Lister-Jones as a woman confronting her inner child (Cailee Spaeny) on the last night before the end of the world. An encroaching meteor is set to destroy the planet — not that anyone, including co-stars Olivia Wilde, Helen Hunt, Bradley Whitford, Charlie Day, Fred Armisen, and many more seem to really care all that much.

“We thought it would be fun to not do the kind of typical doom-and-gloom apocalyptic style comedy but opt for one with more levity and self-reflection,” Wein says. “That’s how Zoe and I were feeling: kind of resigned to this new way of life, so to speak. Even though the film isn’t about the pandemic there’s almost an overlapping spiritual similarity to what we were going through that we wanted to infuse in this film.”

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To further that connection, Lister-Jones says they encouraged the starry cast — many of whom are personal friends of the real-life couple — to embrace their state of mind at the moment.

“Every day was such a roller coaster, we never knew where we would be emotionally,” she says. “That was a big part of the conversation — just telling all of our cast members, wherever you are emotionally on the day that we shoot is where this film will be. That’s the beauty of the parallel universe we are creating — if you want to be in pajamas and you are deeply depressed then that’s where the character is.”

“How It Ends” premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.

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