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Jay Baruchel as he releases the second season of docuseries We’re All Gonna Die.Supplied

Canada is this close to having a National Jay Baruchel Day. And for good reason.

This spring, the most unabashedly patriotic actor working today will be everywhere Canadians look. This coming weekend sees the release of Caitlin Cronenberg’s black comedy Humane, in which Baruchel co-stars as a populist weasel looking to sell out humanity. Next month, the actor will be making the publicity rounds to pump up the chances of his comedy BlackBerry sweeping the Canadian Screen Awards. And then he’ll be in and around Etobicoke, Ont., filming the second season of Netflix’s action-comedy series FUBAR alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But if you need a concentrated dose of Baruchel on demand then you can catch all the Jay you need on Crave, as the streamer last week launched the second season of the docuseries We’re All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel). Like the show’s first season, each episode explores a lingering threat to humanity, with Baruchel gently interrogating experts on everything from artificial intelligence to nano-tech.

Ahead of the show’s premiere, Baruchel sat down with The Globe and Mail to discuss the end of the world.

You’re not only hosting the series, but also directing each episode this season. Why did you decide to take on double duties?

It was the path of least resistance, I think? Victoria Lean, director of the first season, wasn’t going to be part of Season 2, so we had two options: find somebody new, or me. Lots of people can shake a good hand and say the right things in a meeting, but then are a nightmare. And I’d have to find a new shorthand with whoever we found. Or, since we have the crew from Season 1, we already have a shorthand. It was a leaner and more efficient way to do it. I also had some ideas, but it was really just a way to get us all home quicker.

Did it light a spark to do more episodic directing versus feature-film directing, as you did with Random Acts of Violence and the second Goon?

No, I wouldn’t say that. I love directing full stop, but what was fun here was getting the chance to play around with ideas, to inject a little bit more cinema into it. You’ll see the colour palette is quite different, more vibrant. It’s a thrill to direct anything, but I like working with actors who aren’t me. And I’m still mortified any time that I have to ask anyone a question. Conducting interviews is outside my comfort zone.

During the first season you talked about just that. It hasn’t become any easier?

I abhor it. I love meeting people and hearing about awesome stuff, but doing that on camera never felt natural. There is no part of me that’s like a Sliding Doors moment where I almost went to journalism school.

Yet you’ve been on the other end of the interview process for half your life.

I have such a respect for what you guys do ...

Oh, it’s nothing, trust me.

But it’s different! I don’t always have a follow-up to a scientist telling me something that alters my concept of civilization. There are moments where I’m at a loss, looking at my producer. I don’t know what else to say that isn’t just putting a hat on a hat. But at the same time, I like people and I’m a sincerely curious person. I live on Wikipedia. I pay for Wikipedia!

Are you editing entries?

Never. I don’t have it in me. But if I was to open my phone now, I’d have 10 Wikipedia pages going.

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Next month, Baruchel will be making the publicity rounds to pump up the chances of his comedy BlackBerry sweeping the Canadian Screen Awards.Supplied

Jimmy Wales would be impressed. But the hosting part, that must come more naturally ...

You would think!

Isn’t this a full-circle moment for you, after getting your start hosting Popular Mechanics for Kids?

It absolutely is. What’s so funny is that the nineties optimism was so hokey yet the point of view from that show and me as a teenager feels incredibly, impossibly naive compared to where I am today as a 42-year-old man talking about this stuff. When Victoria and [producer Stuart Henderson] first approached me about this show, they said it was like Unpopular Mechanics for Adults.

Was this world-ending stuff something you’ve always been fascinated by? How much of this show is therapy for you?

A lot. There’s a great tradition of morbidity in my family. My dad’s dad would be the kind of grandfather who would say to me at 11 years old, “This is the day that I think I might die.” My tastes skew black licorice. I like true crime. I’m a student of the Second World War with a fascination about the Third Reich.

My mother asked me years ago, “Why do you like such heavy stuff?” This one seems obvious to me: It starts as a self-defence impulse. There aren’t a lot of 12-year-old insomniacs, but I was one because my parents’ marriage was ripping apart. They never fought in front of me, but kids are tuning forks, and take things home with them. So I couldn’t sleep for some reason. But you know what’s heavier than that? Serial killers and the Third Reich. If you get to name the monster, it’s that much less scary.

How difficult is it to get a series like this made in Canada today? It seems like having a second season of anything is an accomplishment.

People at Crave saw that people were clicking, but it’s hard to make anything. And television and cinema are prohibitively expensive art forms. How much does a painting possibly cost? Are there many million-dollar records? The worst movie you fell asleep to on Air Canada cost at least a million dollars of someone else’s money. But it’s never been easy. In hindsight, it would’ve been sick to be around Canada in the heyday of the tax-shelter era of the seventies.

There’s been lots of talk about the next film from BlackBerry director Matt Johnson, a big-screen version of his TV series nirvanna the band the show. Are you involved?

No, but he has agreed to be in what I hope is my next feature. Me and my writing partner Jesse Chabot and Lynn Coady wrote a script called Visionary Control 1990. Imagine a slasher film told in the meter of Syriana or Magnolia or Short Cuts, all of it centred on a pop singer who is trying to be the next Tiffany doing a mall tour, and there’s a serial killer after her. So you have the killer, the family of one of his victims, a copycat killer. It’s an ensemble slasher film, and Matt and Emily Hampshire will be in it. Karim Hussain from Random Acts is going to shoot it. But getting someone to give me millions to make it is another story. It takes years.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Season 2 of We’re All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel) is streaming on Crave.

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