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Q&A With Judd Apatow

The writer/director talks about his new movie, his favorite humor, and 826LA.
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Award-winning writer, director, and film and TV producer Judd Apatow fell in love with comedy as a boy and started performing stand-up when he was still a teenager. As a young adult he decided to write comedy for others, rather than perform himself, and he ended up producing The Ben Stiller Show and writing for The Larry Sanders Show, Freaks and Geeks, and Undeclared, all of which won critical acclaim. His films have included The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Talladega Nights, Superbad, Stepbrothers, Pineapple Express, Wanderlust, and The Five-Year Engagement. He sat down with WebMD Magazine to talk about his newest film, This is 40, plus what it's like to work with his wife and daughters (they have appeared in his films), who is mentors are, and his work with 826LA, a nonprofit that helps students develop writing skills.

Your new movie, This Is 40, captures the daily lives of a couple close in age to both you and your wife. They also have two young daughters, just like you. How much of your own life did you draw on for inspiration when conceiving and writing the movie?

The movie was inspired by conversations I have with my wife about how we are doing, about what we can improve. I thought about conversations that I had with my friends about things that are going on in our lives, then I take it and try to make it funny.

Did writing and directing the new movie give you new insights into being a husband, a dad, a middle-aged man?

With every movie I make, I’m trying to figure something out about whatever stage of life I am in. It forces me to do some real soul searching. We all want to feel as happy as we can and feel that we are in control, but the more control you try to have, the worse you seem to make things.

Do you and your wife have a “do better list” like the couple in the movie?

We don’t write it down, but it is always in our brains, and there may be no end to it. For me, I need to learn how to be more present, to use tech less in the house, to spend more time with the girls, to be more involved in their school. Obvious things, but hard to do sometimes.

Both of your daughters, Maude and Iris, co-star in the new movie. How does directing them on set compare to directing them at home?

On set, they have to listen to me. At home they can just ignore me. With all the people on the set, it is much harder for them to shut me out.

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