For an English major nerd like myself, getting some insight into the mind of one of my favorite screen writers and movie producers (Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, etc!), was quite a treat. As Judd Apatow prepares for his latest creation, This is 40, to hit theaters this Friday, December 21, Breezy Mama got to sit down with him and a group of mom bloggers to get the scoop on how his wife, actress Leslie Mann, felt about him putting his marriage out there, how he puts his life moments together to make a film and more.
How do you get inspired to write about your own life? Do you just write it and you say this will make a great screenplay or I’m going to do a screenplay?
Judd Apatow: When I start, I don’t really know what form it’s going to take, so I just started making notes, and I’ll just write out in lists of moments. And then, I’ll put them on cards and lay them out on a giant table, and then, slowly a story begins to reveal itself. So, I knew I wanted to talk about their birthday and the meltdown their having and they start doubting their marriage and doubting each other and things will just keep getting worse. I knew I wanted it to be a meltdown movie that would end with them rebonding. Some of it is also not wanting to take responsibility for what’s actually happening, so, it’s easier to blame your spouse than to think about what you’ve been through in your life and what you’re bringing to the party. That was also a big theme in the movie.
When we saw Paul Rudd checking himself for hemorrhoids, I was wondering if there was anything that went too far that you decided to cut out?
Judd Apatow: Anything that went too far I had to cut-out? Well, I’ve never checked myself for that. I’ve never asked Leslie to check, but I should ask her to check ’cause there are probably things that need to be looked at. But I don’t think so. You know, Leslie usually pushes to go further. So, it’s not usually about me pushing them and them saying no, it’s usually Leslie saying, “I think I’d be topless in this scene, that would really show how vulnerable you are with your husband when you want to feel beautiful and you want to feel like there’s still some romance there, I should be topless.” And then, I’m like, “Really? What about the kids, you think they’ll think it’s weird?” And she’s like, “I don’t care, it’s my job. I want to get these on record.”
Since it was with your family, was there anything in there that any of them saw for the first time and they thought, “Wait a second. Why did you do?”
Judd Apatow: When they saw the movie?
Or, no, when they saw the script for the first time.
Judd Apatow: The kids don’t read the script. Maybe Maude at some point might have read the script. Iris doesn’t read the script. She doesn’t really know what we’re talking about most of the time. But she did see the movie. I covered her eyes or ears at appropriate moments, but–.
-What are their ages?
Judd Apatow: Maude turns 15 next week, and Iris is 10. But they’re so bored of it. It’s funny because their world is movies and comedy. The son of an insurance salesman wouldn’t care about insurance. They kind of don’t care in a way that’s very healthy, I think.
So, if you had a daughter that’s acting moody, does she think that that’s what you think of her?
Judd Apatow: I think that she knows that we’re calling ourselves out on our worst moments. And it’s not like we’re goofing on her but we’re not goofing on ourselves. I don’t know exactly how she processes it, but what I tell her is that the best thing you could do as a creative person is to share your story with people because it makes other people feel less alone and it makes them feel better. There are a lot of people having these struggles. So, for her, I’m sure on some levels she realizes, “Oh, this is sibling rivalry. This is getting very emotional when you’re a kid and your brain isn’t fully formed yet,” and we’re very open about that. I’ll sit and read the book, Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy in front of my kids. And I’ll read passages out loud, and then just go, “Your brain is not built yet. You don’t know how to self-soothe. So, I’m leaving the room for two hours while you do whatever you want to do.”
With Leslie, we talk about everything. That’s our philosophy in the house. Somewhere we just gave up on the idea that they weren’t going to see the things that we were worried about them seeing. They could see everything you’ve tried to shield from them their entire lives, so it’s if I could get a relationship with them where they will tell me and talk to me about it, that’s more important than making sure they don’t see American Horror Story.
You talk about writing as a form of self-exploration. And what did you learn about yourself or your marriage that you may not have already known when you did the film?
Judd Apatow: What’s helpful for me is to deeply think through Leslie’s point of view ’cause it’s so easy to just think, “I’m right. She’s annoying,” So, to have to write her point of view and show the effect of certain behaviors that I have or men have is helpful. And one thing that Leslie pointed out to me a long time ago was this idea of being shut down as a man feels like a terrible rejection. Where a guy might just want to zone out and go on the computer or read the paper, he thinks, “I’m not doing anything. Why would you be mad at me? I’m just sitting here.” But that act is hostile.
We used to always call it “cave time.” Like a guy needs–.
Judd Apatow: –Yes.
Blogger: –Cave time. It’s just the way your brain’s filled.
Judd Apatow: Yes. And in Knocked Up, there’s a scene where she says, “Just ’cause you don’t yell doesn’t mean you’re not mean.” I came from a good divorced household, so, I loved going in my room, shutting the door, and watching the Merv Griffin Show. That’s what my whole childhood was, was shutting the door. So, that’s my instinct. And Leslie and I, we work through both my instinct to shut the door and her instinct to kind of really talk it through maybe past the point where we need to talk it through. So, it’s helpful, I think, for the kids too because since we shot the movie, they have gotten along way better as a result of having to re-imagine and dramatize their own issues with each other. Now some of it becomes ridiculous because they’ve played it. And then if they say things, they say it in the movie. I’m, like, “That’s so lame that you still say it.”
So, there are some fun little things like a Justin Bieber poster, and were those real?
Judd Apatow: Yes, that is a real poster. That is. They have met Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers, yes. We definitely take advantage of all of our connections to get near all those boys.
This is 40 hits theaters Friday, December 21! Watch the trailer here:
To learn more about the film, visit: http://www.thisis40movie.com/
For more, be sure to read my What TV Paul Rudd & Leslie Mann Watch With Their Kids