Judd Apatow shot to fame with his directorial debut, ‘The 40-year-old Virgin’. Now he’s being hailed as Hollywood’s comedy saviour following the success of ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Superbad’, both set for release in South Africa this month. We asked Apatow, and ‘Superbad’ producer Greg Mottola, about newfound fame.


Whatís it like to be so hot now?

Judd Apatow: For me, the part thatís fun is working and interacting with other comedy people, so I donít look at it like any period in my career was ever going badly, because I was always allowed to work and I was always allowed to write. So even after ĎThe Cable Guyí wasnít a big success, like we hoped it would be, I went back and ran the last season of ĎThe Larry Sanders Showí and had the most fun Iíve ever had in my life. And on Arrested Development Ė everyone was so talented. It was depressing that we couldnít keep making them, but the process of making them was really fun. And itís nice to click into the culture a little bit, because you really can build upon that support. As long as we use the freedom we get to make things that are good and to challenge ourselves, hopefully it wonít end too quickly.

Judd, was your experience in high school really bad?

Judd: I guess that well is deep. I donít know if it was actually that bad, but I felt like it was that bad at the time. I certainly felt like a goofy guy and itís not like there were a lot of people who were really digging the Marx Brothers in high school. I did feel alone in a lot of my interests and had a real terror of the first interactions with women that was a lot worse than most of the people that I was around. Oh, I still have stories. But that transition to connecting with the opposite sex is, I find, endlessly amusing. The terror of young men and young boys to connect and reveal themselves and be vulnerable I find very funny and itís something weíve all been through and I canít go back to it enough. It just really makes me laugh.

Is there one film you're more proud of than another?

Greg Mottola: I think theyíre all comparable. I mean, you know, comedy people are all cut from the same cloth. Theyíre people who see the world as unfair and theyíre underdogs and theyíre slightly neurotic. Thatís why people like comedy. Itís someone standing up and saying ďthis is wrongĒ in one way or another.

Judd: I think thatís why a lot of comics also are very good actors, because to be truly funny, you have to have some sense of the truth. You have to understand something or have a perspective that has some real truth to it and thatís an intuitive thing. Like these guys, in the movie, in Superbad, are just really good actors, so I knew that they could handle any of the emotional stuff or give it a little bit of psychological nuance, so it didnít feel cut-and-dry sitcom teen movie stuff.

Did the success surprise you?

Greg: For me, the surprise comes when I show the movie and if people like it, thatís the real moment of joy. Then you get into this different run of work, which is [working out] how can I get people to see it? And then hopefully the press likes it and the reviews are good, but from those first screenings you can tell if itís going to work or not and I was thrilled that people were really responding to it and getting very emotional about it, in addition to laughing. So itís just been really fun. Weíre about to go around the world and do our international promotional tour for almost three weeks. So now that itís done well enough that I donít have to worry, hopefully I will relax and actually enjoy it. I usually enjoy things about two years after. I just look at a picture and go, oh, that was fun. Thatís about as much fun as I get out of it.

Are you worried that because the movie doesnít have any really big stars, that people wonít go to see it?

Greg: Sure. Yeah. And also thereís a certain audience that will just write it off because itís a teen movie, that thatís a genre that doesnít interest them. Sony is showing it a lot. Theyíre giving up a lot of ticket sales to try and get word of mouth going, so people can tell their friends reasons to see it. I think itís extremely fortunate for me that Knocked Up came out before it and so recently and people now really know who Seth is saw Jonah in that movie. Itís hard to sell this point, but I think, hopefully, this will help word of mouth, that when people see actors who are new to them and Ė Judd was just saying this a second ago Ė you donít know what their comedy gifts are. You donít know what their comedy moves are and theyíre going to do things that surprise you. And itís just fresher and more fun to see these brand new guys who are so funny.

Do you think itís fair that the films are R-rated?

Judd also said this before Ė I just say things Judd has already said Ė I mean, everyone I know talks in an R-rated way, so if I was to make a movie about my own life, it would have to be rated R. In a strange way, I think a lot of movies about middle class life and the way most people live are often made very sentimental and kind of watered down. And I think there is something really refreshing about the world of Knocked Up or Superbad. To me, just as a movie lover, as someone who wants to see depictions of people I can recognize, I feel like an R is just essential. And I guess my attitude is, yeah, for kids, keep them away.

Knocked up opened at cinemas on 28 September. Superbad opens on 26 October.

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