2012 will be Emmerich's last disaster movie. Really?

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Roland Emmerich, the master-of-disaster filmmaker whose latest marathon of destruction is this Friday's 2012, says that it will be his last.

"I think so," Emmerich told reporters last month in Jackson Hole, Wyo. "Because I had a hard time actually kind of convincing myself to do it. And I only, like, actually did it because it was such an incredible idea to do something like that. ... Then I ... said to myself, 'If I do it one more time, I do it in, like, the biggest way it could possibly be done.' So maybe ... I have it out of my system."

Emmerich never actually set out to be the guy behind such films as Godzilla, Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. It just kinda happened.

"I think I discovered the genre when I was writing with Dean [Devlin] Independence Day," Emmerich told us. "We would kind of ask ourselves, ... 'In what form could we kind of tell this alien invasion?' And ... found that a disaster movie format is the best. ... Dean and I ... rewatched these [disaster] movies, and I remember ... seeing them as a kid, and I fell really in love with it. Because, first of all, you have ... multiple characters, which is great, because you can ... have people from all walks of life. And most of the time they don't have to be heroes. ... They become heroes. And it's always like the decision who will become a hero and who will not."

2012 centers on an ordinary guy, Jackson Curtis, played by John Cusack, who tries to save his family when the world begins to come to an end, according to ancient prophecies. In the course of the movie, audiences witness the destruction of everything from Los Angeles to Rome to Washington.

Emmerich adds that this is as good a time as any for a kick-ass disaster movie about the end of the world. "I think also it taps into the paranoia around the world," Emmerich said about his latest movie. "About how the actual world feels. ... That's all in the zeitgeist. And everybody ... knows what all the problems are for global warming and all those things. ... This, smartly, I think, doesn't get into the politics of it, it just gets into ... what's important to you? What are your values? It's sort of like that feeling you have when something bad happens, and it cuts through all the B.S. You have that feeling of clarity. I think movies like this give you that sense without the real tragedies having to happen, and I think maybe that's their function."

For his next project, Emmerich wants to make a 180-degree turn: It's a biographical historical drama about Shakespeare. Or rather, about how Shakespeare wasn't the guy who really wrote all those plays.

Will he ever return to the disaster genre?

"For me, it's never say never," Emmerich says slyly.

What do you think? Should Emmerich keep on keeping on? Or should he hang it up?