Knocked Up Director
“When R-rated comedies don't work, the studios are really embarrassed by them. But a PG-13 comedy is actually less offensive than an episode of ‘Friends’ (1994). I think people want something a little more adult.” Judd Apatow
Film producer, director and screenwriter Judd Apatow is widely recognized for his work in the movies "The Cable Guy" (1996), "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (2004), "The 40 Year Old Virgin" (2005), "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006), "Knocked Up" (2007), "Superbad" (2007), "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" (2007), "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008), "Drillbit Taylor" (2008), "Step Brothers" (2008) and "Pineapple Express" (2008). His upcoming film projects include "The Year One," "Funny People" and "Get Him to the Greek."
The founder of Apatow Productions, Apatow is also the man behind the success of such television series as “Freaks and Geeks” (1999-2000) and “Undeclared” (2001-2003). The Emmy winner had previously received praise for his work in “The Ben Stiller Show” (Fox, 1992-1993) and “The Larry Sanders Show” (HBO, 1992-1998).
More personally, Apatow has been married to actress Leslie Mann since 1997 and has two daughters with her.
“I think that everything I do tends to root for the underdog. I always felt as a kid that I was under appreciated, invisible or weird, but I've always secretly thought people would one day appreciate what is different about me. I'm always putting that message out there. Eventually, the nerds and the geeks will have their day.” Judd Apatow
Childhood and Family:
On December 6, 1967, Judd Apatow was born in Syosset, New York, to a Jewish family. His father was a real estate developer and his mother worked at a comedy club in Southampton.
Apatow has an older brother named Robert and a younger sister named Mia. When he was 12 years old, his parents divorced. Robert went to live with his grandparents while Mia moved in with their mother. Judd went to live with his father and visited his mother on weekends.
“College is the reward for surviving high school. Most people have great fun stories from college and nightmare stories from high school.” Judd Apatow
Apatow, whose childhood hero was Steve Martin, got his comic start at Syosset High School. Regarded as a nerd with no athletic ability, he hosted a program called “Club Comedy” on the school's 10-watt radio station WKWZ and actually interviewed dozens of comedians, many of whom were already famous or on their way, including Garry Shandling, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Howard Stern, Eddie Murphy, and Roseanne Barr. Following his graduation in 1985, Apatow studied film and screen writing for two years at the University of Southern California (UCLA). He then shared an apartment with fellow struggling stand-up comedian Adam Sandler.
On the set of “The Cable Guy” (1996), Apatow met actress Leslie Mann (born on March 26, 1972), who appeared in Apatow's “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (2005) and “Knocked Up” (2007). They were married on June 9, 1997, and have two daughters, Maude (born in 1998) and Iris, both of whom also appeared in “Knocked Up” (2007). Apatow currently resides in Los Angeles with his family.
The 40 Year Old Virgin
“My way of dealing with the world has always been to make fun of it and observe it but not take part in it. That's how I became a writer. But when you have kids, suddenly you have to be part of things. It leads almost to a breakdown because your whole defense mechanism is now really destructive.” Judd Apatow
Getting his comedy start hosting and interviewing such comedians as Garry Shandling, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Howard Stern, Eddie Murphy, and Roseanne Barr for his high school radio station, Judd Apatow began performing stand-up comedy at age 17 and made his TV debut as a performer on Fox's "Comic Strip Live" in 1988.
In the early 1990s, Apatow began selling jokes and worked as a joke writer for Roseanne, Tom Arnold, and Jim Carrey. He also got his first big break when he co-created, produced, wrote for, and appeared in a few public service announcements on Fox's sketch comedy television show, "The Ben Stiller Show" (1992-1993). The show was canceled after 12 episodes due to low ratings but won him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
Apatow made his first film as associate producer with "Crossing the Bridge" (1992), which was directed and written by Mike Binder and starred Josh Charles, Stephen Baldwin, and Jason Gedrick. He then served as writer and consulting producer for HBO's satirical television sitcom starring stand-up comedian Garry Shandling, "The Larry Sanders Show," and credits Garry Shandling with encouraging him to write character-driven comedy. During its six-year run (1992-1998), the show earned five Emmy nominations, four for Outstanding Comedy Series (1994, 1996, 1997, 1998) and one for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (1997). He also won two CableACE Awards in 1994 and 1995. The series ranked #38 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and was included in Time magazine's list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time."
During his "Larry Sanders Show" tenure, Apatow produced and wrote for Fox's animated series "The Critic" (1994-1995), wrote for the annual telecast of the Grammy Awards in 1994 and executive-produced and co-wrote the film "Heavyweights" (1995). In 1996, he had his first solo screen-writing credit in "Celtic Pride" (1996; featuring Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd), a comedy film directed by Tom DeCerchio in which Apatow also executive produced. That same year, he also sued the Writers Guild of America for writing credit on the Ben Stiller-directed dark comedy film that he also produced, "The Cable Guy" (1996; starring Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick), but the lawsuit was later withdrawn.
“I dropped my 'Cable Guy' lawsuit not because the film got bad reviews but because I spent eighty grand on it and my lawyer told me I was going to lose.” Judd Apatow
Following the demise of "The Larry Sanders Show," Apatow executive-produced the NBC teen series "Freaks and Geeks" (1999-2000). The show marked his initial collaboration with Paul Feig and garnered a devoted following. It won the Emmy for Outstanding Casting and was nominated for two Emmy Awards in 2000, one for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Paul Feig, "Pilot"), and one for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series (Allison Jones, Coreen Mayrs and Jill Greenberg). It was also nominated for an Emmy in 2001 for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Paul Feig, "Discos and Dragons"). In addition to the Emmys, the show won numerous awards for writing, directing and acting.
“Television is much more difficult because at every moment the network can force you to change things based on their belief about what would make it popular. You're in a constant debate with a gun at your head, and the gun is cancellation. So it's hard to win the arguments.” Judd Apatow
In 2001, Apatow teamed up again with Feig to create the Fox series "Undeclared" (featuring Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Carla Gallo, Monica Keena, and Loudon Wainwright), which he also executive-produced. Similar to "Freaks and Geeks," the half-hour comedy show lasted one season.
After producing Adam McKay's comedy starring Will Ferrell, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (2004), in which he was also cast in a small role, Apatow made his directorial debut with the comedy "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" (2005), starring Steve Carell, who also co-wrote the film with him. It also stars Catherine Keener, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen (who was also the co-producer) and Paul Rudd, as well as featured Apatow's wife Leslie Mann and Carell's wife Nancy Walls in small roles. The film was a summer hit and ranked #30 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies. It earned Apatow an Online Film Critics Society Award (OFCS) nomination for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker and a Writers Guild of America (WGA) for Best Original Screenplay, which he shared with Carell.
In 2007, Apatow co-wrote the music and lyrics for "Walk Hard" for the film "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," a comedy directed by Jake Kasdan and starring John C. Reilly. Apatow, who also co-wrote and produced the film, earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song for a Motion Picture and won a Sierra Award for Best Song from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society. Also that year, Apatow directed Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, and Leslie Mann in "Knocked Up" (2007). The comedy was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the best ten movies of the year. Apatow was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.
“Well, it’s very scary to direct your first movie because you understand that every moment that if you do a terrible job and fail they won’t allow you to do it again. So, it’s almost like an audition to have a career. This time I felt like if I screwed it up, I would probably still be allowed to do it again because the movie wasn’t that expensive. But, OK, I can probably have two really terrible big failures that I’m allowed to have before my career is over. So, I felt better about that. I was much more relaxed. I was very nervous during ‘The 40-Year Old Virgin.’ I was constantly trying to hide my terror from the cast and crew. This time I actually enjoyed myself but that’s also because my family was around and that made it a more fun set.” Judd Apatow
Still in 2007, Apatow produced the film "Superbad," a comedy which was co-written by frequent collaborator Seth Rogen. It was directed by Greg Mottola and starred Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. Produced on a relatively small budget of $20 million, the film became the highest domestic grossing high school comedy of all time. It was nominated for Best Movie at the MTV Movie Awards, Best Comedy Movie at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, Best Comedy at the Empire Awards, and Choice Summer Movie - Comedy/Musical at the Teen Choice Awards.
Apatow recently produced Universal Pictures' romantic comedy film directed by Nicholas Stoller, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand), Paramount Pictures' comedy film starring Owen Wilson, "Drillbit Taylor," and "Step Brothers," a comedy film directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. He also wrote Dennis Dugan's comedy film starring Adam Sandler, "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," and David Gordon Green's action comedy film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, "Pineapple Express," which he also produced.
Next, Apatow will produce an upcoming Harold Ramis-directed comedy film from Columbia Pictures, "The Year One," starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, and executive produce "Get Him to the Greek," a spin-off of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" in which Russell Brand will reprise his role as notorious British rocker Aldous Snow. He is also set to release his third directorial feature on July 31, 2009, titled “Funny People,” which he wrote and co-produced. It is set to star Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. Apatow's wife Leslie Mann and Eric Bana, who was a stand up comedian in Australia before appearing in American films, will also appear in the film.
Recently, it was announced that Apatow is producing a yet-untitled comedy based around Sherlock Holmes and his partner Watson, which was written by Etan Cohen. Sacha Baron Cohen will play Holmes while Will Ferrell is set to play Watson. It was also recently announced that he will be teaming up with YouTube star Bo Burnham on an "anti High School Musical” with Burnham writing the script.
“It’s a very funny, ridiculous idea that it’s easier to cry than it is to make people laugh.” Judd Apatow
Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Sierra Award - Best Song, "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," 2007
CableACE: Comedy Series, "The Larry Sanders Show," 1995
CableACE: Comedy Series, "The Larry Sanders Show," 1994
Emmy: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program, "The Ben Stiller Show," 1993