Judd Apatow Grows Up
Friday, November 30, 2012
Is Judd Apatow the voice of his generation? He’s had a hand in many of the celebrated comedies of the past decade, producing Bridesmaids, Anchorman, and Superbad, and writing and directing The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Funny People and Knocked Up. In Apatow’s latest, This Is 40, very little happens for the first hour — just career woes, marriage struggles, and whiny kids who can’t be separated from their electronics. Life at 40, in other words.
Apatow wrote, directed, and produced the film, casting his wife Leslie Mann and two daughters as the wife and kids. He insists the movie isn’t autobiographical in the actual events, “but it’s emotionally accurate,” he tells Kurt Andersen. "It’s everything we’re struggling with and we found a way to turn it into a story.” Citing Diner, All in the Family, and Taxi, he says, “I love a comedy that makes you root for people just trying to get through the normal aspects of life.”
Kurt wonders if Judd Apatow is abandoning the goofiness of his early work, going all Woody Allen on us. “I’m enjoying getting closer to the truth,” he says. “I love the idea of revisiting the same characters every five or six years forever.
I say it a little bit right now as a joke to the actors. But I can’t imagine that there’s any chance that in two years, I’m not trying to write it.”
Apatow guest-edited Vanity Fair’s first comedy-themed issue, due out in December.
Bonus Track: Kurt’s extended conversation with Judd Apatow
- 8:20 — Writing a movie to figure out why you’re writing the movie: “The more I’ve written, the more I’m attracted to the idea that the purpose of it is to figure something out and to explore something I’m going through.”
- 17:00 — 1/3 real, 1/3 observed, 1/3 made-up: This Is 40 isn’t autobiographical, but it does star Apatow’s real-life wife and kids. And he admits that making the movie did affect his marriage: “It forces us to have very deep conversations about who we are and how we communicate with each other.”
- 19:50 — Comedy roots: Apatow’s mother took a job seating customers at a comedy club so that he could see shows as a teenager. “I just wanted to be Jerry Seinfeld or Jay Leno. That’s all I wanted to do when I was a kid.”
- 25:30 — Freaks and Geeks: Apatow describes his friendship with Paul Feig, the creator of Freaks and Geeks, which led to their work together on the show. Apatow calls it “maybe the best creative experience I’ve ever had.” When the show was cancelled, they were “devastated for years. It was like a girl breaking your heart.”
- 30:00 — Typecast as a producer: “I’m a very nervous person. I’m hyper-vigilant. I’m always wondering what could go wrong and trying to come up with a plan for dealing with it even if it hasn’t gone wrong yet. So I have all the mental damage that makes for a good producer.”
- 37:20 — Vanity Fair: For Vanity Fair’s first ever comedy-themed issue, Apatow put together a dream team of contributors including Conan O’Brien, Lena Dunham, and Zach Galifianakis.
Taxi - Angela (Theme from Taxi)Artist: London Music WorksAlbum: 70s TV ThemesLabel: Silva Screen RecordsPurchase: Amazon