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Quoting Keira
"All through my life what I've loved doing is watching movies. I love the escapism of film, I love stories. So it is incredible to be able to be in them as much as I am, to see them from the first stitch in a costume to the end product."
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Home » Career » Filmography | 2010-2019

Tagline: Nice knowing you.
Keira as: Penny
Genre: Comedy
Duration: 101 minutes
Written by: Lorene Scafaria
Directed by: Lorene Scafaria
Other cast: Steve Carrell, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Martin Sheen
Release date: June 22, 2012
Production budget: $10m
Total worldwide gross: $9.6m
Filming locations: Santa Clarita, California, USA

Taking audiences on a humorous, moving, and intimate journey against an epic backdrop of Earth’s final days, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist). Set in a too-near future where time at once stands still and is slipping away forever, the writer/director explores what people will do and how they will feel when humanity’s end is near.

A 70-mile-wide asteroid is en route to Earth, and the last best attempt to counter it has failed. Also failing is the marriage of soft-spoken insurance salesman Dodge (Golden Globe Award winner Steve Carell); the breaking news that the world will end in an estimated 21 days cues his wife to leave him on the spot.

Dodge is a man who has always played by the rules of life, while his neighbor Penny (Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley) is an extroverted woman who hasn’t. From these opposite perspectives, both initially choose to navigate the impending end of the world with blinders on. Dodge declines joining his friends in increasingly reckless behavior, while Penny fixates on her relationship issues with a self-absorbed musician.

The two misfits meet first when Penny has a rough night and then again when she belatedly delivers Dodge a lost letter. That letter could alter Dodge’s future; it’s from his high-school sweetheart Olivia, the love of his life. When a riot breaks out around their apartment building, Dodge realizes that he must seek Olivia out before it’s too late while Penny makes the decision to spend her last days with family in England. Seizing the moment, Dodge promises to help Penny reach her family if she will provide transport for the two of them in her car immediately. She agrees, and they escape.

On the road together, the unlikely traveling companions’ respective personal journeys accelerate, and their outlooks – if not the world’s – brighten.

Production Info
  • According to the date on News Today’s final issue hanging in the news stand near the beginning of the movie, the film takes place around March 24, 2021.
  • The story of an “unexpected romance blossoming between two strangers while on an impromptu road trip” is familiar territory for Director Lorene Scafaria, as that was the premise of her previous screenplay, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
  • The title of the movie was taken from lyrics in the Chris Cornell song, Preaching the End of the World, taken from his Euphoria Mourning album.
  • Character Quotes
  • I mean, it’s always better to sleep on the fire escape than have pity sex, I always say.
  • You want some weed? It’s the only thing that sends me to sleep and the only thing that wakes me up again. I mean, seriously, I’ve got a wicked case of hypersomnia. I mean, I could sleep through the apocalypse.
  • Look, guilt isn’t a feeling that I’m comfortable with.
  • I thought I was gonna live forever. Was totally gonna peak at 40.
  • I should warn you, my dad’s ex-military and he says I have a really serious problem with authority.
  • My dad had the real talent, and my mum was sort of a cheerleader. You’ve never seen two people more in love. I think that’s the reason I can never settle for anything less than amazing. You know? They made it look so easy. There’s a reason that opposites are supposed to attract. I’m the result of two romantics getting together. I’m totally screwed.
  • I’m not gonna waste my time on the wrong person. I’m not gonna waste my parents’ time introducing them to some future stranger. And no more days spent picking out what you’re gonna wear for nights that don’t mean anything. No more wondering whether you’re with the right person, or if this is the guy that you’re meant to have kids with. All those ridiculous questions. It’s liberating. That’s what it is.
  • Penny: How could I be so stupid?
    Dodge: I don’t know. I don’t know you very well.
    Penny: I’m never gonna see my family again. I missed the planes, all of them. I mean, God, it’s the end of the world and I’m still 15 minutes late. I can hear my father say it now. I can hear him say, “Flaky and irresponsible,” and he’s right. How could I do this? I put my energy in the wrong places, I give my time to the wrong people. I mean, when I think of all the… all the holidays I didn’t spend with my mum and dad to be with some guy I used to know.
    Dodge: Would you like to come in?
    Penny: I won’t steal anything if you don’t rape me.
  • Penny: What are you doing with the rest of your life?
    Dodge: Oh, um… Little of this, little of that. Probably catching up on some “me” time. Find God. Maybe move around some chairs.
    Penny: Well, maybe I’ll run into you at a support group or an orgy or something.
  • Dodge: Look, you don’t need to spend the last few days of your life with a total stranger.
    Penny: You’re not a total stranger, and these aren’t my last days.
    Dodge: Oh, you’re a survivalist.
    Penny: No, I’m not a survivalist. I’m an optimist.
  • Dodge: What about you?
    Penny: What about me?
    Dodge: Who’s the one that got away?
    Penny: I am, thank God. I don’t mean I’m anything special, I just… I’m glad that part of my life’s over with, you know? Relationships.
    Dodge: I thought you weren’t cynical?
    Penny: I’m not cynical. I’m… I’m clinical. I am a recovering serial monogamist.
    Dodge: Sounds very serious.
    Penny: Very serious. I went to this therapist who told me that I had problems being alone. But then, I mean, she wanted to see me five times a week, so you tell me who had the real problem.
  • Officer Wally: License and registration.
    Penny: Well, you see, that’s where we’ve got a problem, because, um, I didn’t get a chance to retrieve my identification before fleeing my home during a deadly riot. However, we were fortunate enough to hitch a ride with a very nice trucker, who, turns out, had hired a hit man to assist him in a suicide, thus bestowing us with this… this beautiful mode of transportation. So, the answer is no, no license or registration here.
  • Dodge: Oh, man, I don’t feel good. Is that the weed kicking in?
    Penny: What does it feel like?
    Dodge: Feels like I’m falling off a cliff with a bomb strapped to my chest.
    Penny: Well, that could be anything.
  • Dodge: How did you learn to cook like this?
    Penny: Mmm. I watched everything my mum did and did the exact opposite.
  • Penny: I wish I’d met you a long time ago. When we were kids.
    Dodge: It couldn’t have happened any other way. It had to happen now.
    Penny: But it isn’t enough time.
    Dodge: It never would have been.
    Penny: I’m scared.
    Dodge: I am madly in love with you, Penny. You’re my favorite, favorite thing.
    Penny: I thought that somehow we’d save each other.
    Dodge: We did.
  • Quoting: Keira Knightley

    on her character: It’s quite clear that she’s somebody who’s incredibly positive and loves something as simple as a milkshake, but then will be crying the next second because the world’s ending. Which is completely understandable. But then the next second she’ll go, ‘Ooh, the sun’s shining and this is really nice.’ It was so clear from the script, so it wasn’t a difficult thing to do. I’d like to be more like her. I mean, I really loved Penny, because she’s one of those people who’s able to say “This moment is excellent,” and that’s a trait so few people have. I certainly don’t. I think we very easily go, “I’m so depressed right now,” but you don’t go “F*ck! I’m really happy!” And I thought that was such a lovely kind of thing. I’d love to be more like that.

    on Penny and Dodge’s relationship: It’s a friendship. Yes, of course it goes romantic and they do fall in love with each other and all the rest of it, but it starts off as a friendship, and that’s what I loved about it. The friendship aspect, more than the other side of it, that was actually the really important one. I think also it’s saying these two people are unlikely to get together. You’ve got the insurance broker who kind of, you know, who lives this life that he’s set himself that is very rigid, and then you’ve got this person who can’t fucking figure out anything and is all over the place and doesn’t know what she wants to be. It’s about an unlikely relationship, a friendship, and those can be the best. Opposites do attract. And there are lots of relationships with one person who’s older than the other. Love is love, and it happens at strange times to strange people. Who knows what works?

    on her reaction to the script: I got to the end of the script, and I though I’d never read anything like it. I love the idea that you take this concept, which is normally kind of a big Hollywood blockbuster, with heroes trying to save the world, and everything, and sort of turn it on its head, and make it about what everybody else is up to.

    on working with co-star Steve Carell: Steve is one of the loveliest men alive. He’s so generous, and so lovely and courteous to everyone, and a complete professional – and very funny in that wonderful way. You meet a lot of comics, and the comedy comes at you almost like a defense mechanism. You’re like, “F*ck! I can’t quite deal with this!” Whereas Steve is amazing and inclusive; he makes everyone around him feel funny. Yeah, he’s wonderful.

    on working with director Lorene Scafaria: She didn’t seem like a first-time director at all. She knew what she wanted, she knew what she was doing, she was very decisive. We didn’t do more than two or three takes – partly because we didn’t have enough time to do more than two or three takes, but actually because most of the time she was like, “Yes. That’s it.” All of us were going, “Do you need one more? Do you need anything else?” you know. She was like, “No. Got it.” That was amazing.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director Lorene Scafaria: Keira’s got such energy to her that’s so special and unique. You watch the Pirates movies and you sort of can’t take your eyes off her. Obviously she’s gorgeous, but there’s a light she seems to bring to everything. Especially in terms of playing opposite Steve and wanting a firecracker to light a fire under him; I thought she was the right person for this. I like that a comedic actor would play the more introverted role and that a dramatic actress could play the comic relief. I thought it would be so fun to see her loosen up and play something lighter. And she’s such an old soul and so deep.

    Critical Response

    Claudia Puig, USA Today:

    If the performances of Steve Carell and Keira Knightley weren’t so superb, director Lorene Scafaria’s wryly funny screenplay might not have been enough to captivate audiences. But with their combined efforts, the tale of two ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation is wonderfully poetic, though still grounded in reality.

    Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News:

    Carell’s chemistry with Knightley (doing her best work since Never Let Me Go) is soulful, something the film doesn’t take for granted. Dodge and Penny’s road trip brings them into contact with a variety of people, including Penny’s survivalist ex (Derek Luke) and a couple (Ron Corddry, Connie Britton) who’ve opted to chuck civility. But ‘Seeking a Friend’ takes strength from Dodge and Penny’s recognition that they’re each other’s soulmate, and Carell and Knightley’s commitment to their unaffected performances. The film belatedly succumbs to obvious conceits, but by then it’s safe inside a nearly perfect shelter.

    Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle:

    (…) And then there’s Penny, the blithe spirit played by Keira Knightley in one of her least-affected performances. She shows up weeping at Dodge’s window, right when he’s mooning over a lost love. Soon they embark on a pre-apocalyptic road trip: He to find his beloved, she to see her family in Britain. The light in her eyes, and the moistness in his, tell you all you need to know about their quest.

    Rex Reed, Observer:

    In the overlapping hours of their search, Dodge and Penny find a new definition of love that is irresistibly moving. If nothing else, see it for the two central performances. Keira Knightley finds a role without a trace of her usual glamour, while Steve Carell finally stretches his talents with more depth and quiet thoughtfulness than he’s ever been invited to previously display.

    Mary Pols, Time:

    Knightley has been steadily making movies, but some of have gone straight to video on demand for good reason (London Boulevard, Last Night) or perhaps been too challenging (the beautiful Never Let Me Go) so it feels as though she’s been off the radar for a bit. She’s certainly been out of the corset (with the notable exception of the upcoming Anna Karenina). Perhaps adorable pixie chick isn’t much of a stretch for her, but she’s captivating in Seeking and she and Carell develop an easy comic rhythm together.