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INT: Judd Apatow


Last week, after a late night at Comic-Con, I received a call at 6am on my cell phone. "What the...?" Was all I could muster but I rolled out of bed and picked up with a garbled "hello." It was Judd Apatow.

There was some kind of miscommunication with his office and he thought it was time for our interview. I thought it was time for sweet, sweet sleep. I felt bad telling Judd Apatow, King of Comedy, that I wasn't quite ready to chat about FUNNY PEOPLE, but we joked about Comic-Con for a bit and rescheduled for the day I came back. It didn't take long for him to start busting my balls...

Judd Apatow

Must've been hard hanging out with all those beautiful women at Comic-Con (laughs)...

Yeah it's hard to complain about work when that's part of your work.

There was a lot going on this year.

When I talked to you last, I had just wrapped Wednesday night when there's usually nothing going on and we were busy with Seth and GREEN HORNET all night.

Sounds like a lot of fun. To be drunk that early in the morning.

I was lucky enough to see the film before and I left and it was frustrating because Universal said, "No talking about the film at all," which was very frustrating because after it was over that's all I wanted to do.

I hope so. That was kinda the point, to create something that really makes you laugh but you might want to talk about a week or a month or a year later.

It's almost a cliche to say that a movie is a "passion project" but would you use that term to describe this movie?

It is because you definitely have that moment in your career where you feel you have the leverage to make something that's very important to you. I really wanted to make something that was thoughtful and personal but also really funny and entertaining. That was my goal. But it'd would've been hard to make this movie if you made it right after a huge bomb. The studio really trusted me and I worked really hard to make something that could do what I wanted it to do creatively but also draw a lot of people. So far the screenings have been fantastic and the reviews have been great so I'm thrilled that it all seems to be working out. Because this is the kind of movie I'll only get to make once.

I remember talking to Cameron Crowe after ALMOST FAMOUS came out and he said writing something that personal left him creatively drained for a while afterward.

That's when you'll see me directing a thriller (laughs). If I'm directing a thriller, you know I'm out of jokes. I'm hoping that won't happen but I understand it. The great thing about my career as opposed to other people is that it wouldn't be inappropriate to make the dumbest movie ever made after this.

While the younger characters in the film are all friends, they're not always friendly to each other. Is that common among struggling actors or comedians?

It's very competitive. When you're a comedian and someone else gets a job, you don't think, "Great, they got a job!" you think "How come I didn't get that job?" So your friends are quietly judging themselves against everyone in their world. That's something I was trying to capture. Their friendships are precarious.

Is it hard to find a true friend in comedy world?

Comedians who like each others acts tend to hang out with each other. Not a lot of comedians hang out with comics who are awful. Unless that person is serving them in some way. Like-minded comedians tend to congregate.

That makes me think a little bit of Randy.

Hiring Aziz to do Randy, what he did was, he took a lot of jokes he used to do in his act and then he tried to perform them in the worst way possible. With all this crazy energy and dancing on stage. But the jokes he did were all kind of funny. And then he started writing jokes just for Randy. But Randy isn't in the movie as much as we all wish he was. Something kind of hilariously magical when Aziz showed up. So we all said, "What can we do?" And we said, "Let's make a documentary on Randy!" We just couldn't stop writing for him. And now we're talking about making RANDY: THE MOVIE. We just can't get enough of Randy.

I didn't see the early comedy shoots for the movie but I heard the Randy sets absolutely killed.

There's a new Randy documentary of Funny or Die right now. There are many more parts to that documentary. I didn't even care about money. I don't care. Randy needs to keep talking (laughs).

I love the DJ.

Yeah you don't even see him at all in the movie. But Aziz improvised that in a scene that got cut out of the movie where he's helping George clean out his garage and he's talking about how he wants to have a DJ on stage. We laughed so much about it and then Aziz said, "I'm gonna go do it!" Next thing you know he's got a DJ and know he's working on pyrotechnics that shoot off every time he tells a joke.

Is there a lot of material that'll work it's way onto the DVD?

Oh yeah. On the DVD we'll put the full documentary on Randy. Then we're working outline for the movie right now.

This whole Randy thing has Aziz just blowing up.

Every once in a while that happens. You give a guy a small part in a movie and they're just so insanely funny that you think to yourself, "What else can we do with this guy?" It happened when Jonah was in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN. He was in the movie for 45 seconds but you just say to yourself, "We have to make a Jonah movie."

Speaking of, I have to say that Jonah is the unheralded MVP of this movie. Everyone will talk about Adam, Seth and Leslie but Jonah is so funny in this movie.

He's like Bill Murray in TOOTSIE. He just kills every time. Destroys every time he's on screen.

I could've watched a whole movie just about Leo. I've been trying to find his YouTube "Kittens" video.

We will. We will (laughs). The kitten video... Anytime we're around, we're always thinking, "What else can we do for the DVD or internet?" It might just be a few seconds of a fake sitcom but we shoot enormous sections knowing we want to put them somewhere else. And we're just as passionate about stuff that's not gonna go in the movie as the stuff that's gonna go in the movie. But we laughed so hard making "Yo Teach" and we'd improvise stuff in the scenes that were just so inappropriate and not politically correct. DANGEROUS MINDS The Sitcom.

I was surprised as to how much thought and concern went into making those fake movies and sitcoms.

They all could be movies. After we shot each one, we said to ourselves, "I want to make this movie." We want to make RE-DO. Or MERMAN. All these movies have been made in some form already or are in some form of development.

SAYONARA DAVEY is hilarious and it's not even in the movie.

Ken Jeong as Suzy Nakamura (laughs).

Other times when you see kids on screen, and especially kids related to the filmmakers, you kinda groan. But your kids are so natural in this. Have you and your wife been approached about them acting in movies that aren't yours?

No we wouldn't allow that. Every once in a while there's an inquiry and we just shut the door. They don't even realize it's a movie. They're just visiting a place with a large room, lots of food, a dog and Adam Sandler. So they just play, it takes two weeks and they're not even allowed to see the movie. It's not even really on their radar. But they're fantastic and at some point I am going to have to deal with that. There's that moment where you think, "This is what I do for a living, would I want my child to do that?" The sad thing is that whenever my kids do something funny around the house, I'm so delighted that I'm unconsciously training them to think that you have to deal with the world through jokes. They're crazy funny.

There were a lot of great cameos in this film. Like it was great to just see Paul Reiser again.

He was one of the early guys we'd all look up to. When we first started out he was one of the three or four guys we all wanted to be. To have him in the movie meant a lot to us. When Adam started at the Comic Strip, Paul Reiser was "the man" there. The first great movie I truly understood as a kid, DINER, I remember hearing that he improvised part of his role and that blew my mind. I couldn't believe that someone could be a part of writing what they did in a movie. I never heard of that. When I was a kid... (laughs).

And another Ray Romano reference.

Always mention Ray. We always mention "Everybody Loves Raymond" because it is the greatest sitcom ever.

I always wondered if the mentions were a knock on "Raymond" or genuine love.

What they did is remarkable. For something to be that funny for that long and is also truthful... It never ceases to amaze me. We didn't think about it consciously, it'd just be great to have him as friends with George. I was on the HBO "Young Comedian's Special" in 1992. I was trying to throw as many personal connections in the movie as I could.




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