Apatow at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
December 6, 1967 |
Flushing, Queens, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Occupation||Producer, writer, director, actor, comedian|
|Spouse(s)||Leslie Mann (m. 1997)|
Judd Apatow (//; born December 6, 1967) is an American producer, writer, director, actor, and comedian. He is the founder of Apatow Productions, through which he produced and developed the cult television series Freaks and Geeks and directed and produced The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Funny People (2009), This Is 40 (2012), and Trainwreck (2015).
Apatow's work has won numerous awards including a Primetime Emmy Award (for The Ben Stiller Show), a Hollywood Comedy Award, and an AFI Award for Bridesmaids (2011). His films have also been nominated for Grammy Awards, PGA Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Academy Awards. In 2007, he was ranked No. 1 on Entertainment Weekly's The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood. He is considered a pioneer of the modern film genre bromantic comedy.
Early life and education
Judd Apatow was born in Flushing, Queens, and raised in Syosset, New York. His mother, Tamara "Tami" (née Shad), worked primarily managing record labels founded by her father, music producer Bob Shad. His father, Maury Apatow, was a real estate developer.
His family was Jewish, "but nonreligious." Apatow has an older brother, Robert, and a younger sister, Mia. His maternal grandmother, Molly, co-starred in his film This Is 40 (playing the grandmother of Paul Rudd's character).
When Apatow was twelve years old, his parents divorced. Robert went to live with his maternal grandparents, and Mia went to live with her mother. As a child, Apatow lived mainly with his father, and visited his mother on weekends. Apatow's mother spent a summer working at a comedy club, which is where Judd was first exposed to live stand-up comedy.
Apatow was obsessed with comedy as a child; his childhood heroes were Steve Martin, Bill Cosby and the Marx Brothers. Apatow got his comic start washing dishes at the Long Island East Side Comedy Club, and while attending Syosset High School, he hosted a program called Comedy Club on the school's 10-watt radio station WKWZ which he created as a way to meet and learn from the comedians he looked up to. He cold-called comedians he admired during this time, managing to interview Steve Allen, Howard Stern, Harold Ramis and John Candy, along with emerging comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright and Garry Shandling.
Apatow began performing stand-up comedy at age seventeen, during his senior year of high school. In the September 1985 issue of Laugh Factory Magazine, he is listed as an Associate Editor. After graduating from high school in 1985, he moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in the screenwriting program at University of Southern California. While at USC, he organized and hosted a number of on-campus "Comedy Night" events, featuring headliners such as Saturday Night Live performer Kevin Nealon. Apatow introduced the acts at these events with short standup routines of his own. He also began volunteering at (and later producing) benefit concerts for HBO's Comic Relief and performing and seeing standup at the Improv in Hollywood. Apatow dropped out of college during his second year and later moved into an apartment with comedian Adam Sandler, whom he met at the Improv. He competed in the Johnnie Walker Comedy Search in 1989 directed by Saturday Night Live short film producer Neal Marshad.
Shortly thereafter, Apatow was introduced by manager Jimmy Miller to Garry Shandling which resulted in Apatow being hired as a writer for the Grammy Awards that year, which Shandling hosted. In 1992, Apatow appeared on HBO's 15th Annual Young Comedians Special and shortly afterwards went on to co-create and executive produce The Ben Stiller Show for Fox. Apatow had met Stiller outside of an Elvis Costello concert in 1990, and they became friends. Despite critical acclaim and an Emmy Award for Apatow and the rest of the writing staff, Fox canceled the show in 1993.
Apatow went on to join HBO's The Larry Sanders Show in 1993 as a writer and consulting producer, and he later served as a co-executive producer and director of an episode during the show's final season in 1998. Apatow credits Shandling as his mentor for influencing him to write comedy that is more character-driven. Apatow earned six Emmy nominations for his work on Larry Sanders. During this same time, Apatow also worked as a consulting producer and staff writer for the animated show The Critic, starring Jon Lovitz.
In 1995, Apatow co-wrote (with Steve Brill) the feature film Heavyweights. Around the same time, Apatow was hired to produce and do an uncredited re-write of the script for the movie The Cable Guy, which was released in 1996 to mixed reviews. It was during the pre-production of the film that Apatow met his future wife, actress Leslie Mann. Apatow also did uncredited re-writes on two other Jim Carrey films: Liar, Liar and Bruce Almighty.
His next script was titled Making Amends, which had Owen Wilson attached to star as a man in Alcoholics Anonymous who decides to apologize to everyone he has ever hurt. However, the film was never made. Apatow did uncredited rewrites of the Adam Sandler films Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer. He was also featured in four tracks on Sandler's 1996 comedy album "What the Hell Happened to Me?". In 1999, Apatow created Sick in the Head, a multi-camera sitcom pilot starring David Krumholtz as a psychiatrist on his first day on the job, Amy Poehler as a suicidal patient, and Kevin Corrigan as Krumholtz's slacker roommate. The cast also included Kevin McDonald, Austin Pendleton, and Andrea Martin. The show was not picked up by Fox, which freed up Apatow to serve as an executive producer of the award-winning series Freaks and Geeks, which debuted in 1999. He also wrote and directed several episodes of the series. After its cancellation, Apatow was the executive producer and creator of the series Undeclared, which reused Seth Rogen in the main cast and other Freaks and Geeks cast members in recurring roles. Although both shows were quickly canceled, USA Today media critic Susan Wloszczyna called the shows "two of the most acclaimed TV series to ever last only one season."
In 2001, Apatow created Julie, a pilot of his that featured Jason Segel, Kevin Hart, Seth Rogen, Phil Hendrie, and Judge Reinhold (playing himself). The pilot was not picked up by Fox. The following year, Apatow co-wrote (with Brent Forrester) a Fox pilot titled Life on Parole, starring Office Space's David Herman as a dissatisfied parole officer whose roommate happens to be one of his parolees; it was not picked up. Apatow has screened and introduced them at "The Other Network", a festival of un-aired TV pilots produced by Un-Cabaret.
In 2004, Apatow produced the feature film comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, starring Will Ferrell and directed by Adam McKay. The film was a box office success. Apatow co-produced the 2013 sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
Apatow made his feature directorial debut in 2005 with the hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which he also co-wrote with the film's star, Steve Carell, for Universal. The film opened at No. 1 and grossed more than $175 million globally. The comedy also garnered numerous awards and nominations, including being named one of AFI's Top Movies of the Year, as well as taking home Best Comedy Movie at the 11th annual Critics' Choice Awards. The 40-Year-Old Virgin also earned Apatow a nomination for Best Original Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America and received four MTV Movie Award nominations, including a win for Carell for Best Comedic Performance.
His film Knocked Up was released in June 2007 to wide critical acclaim. Apatow wrote the initial draft of the film on the set of Talladega Nights. In addition to being a critical success, the film was also a commercial hit, continuing Apatow's newfound mainstream success.
In August 2007, Apatow produced the film Superbad, which was written by Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg. A concept Rogen and Goldberg had created as teens, Apatow convinced Rogen to write the film as a vehicle for himself in 2000. Rogen and Goldberg finished writing the film, but were unable to find a studio interested in producing it. Apatow then enlisted Rogen and Goldberg to write Pineapple Express, a stoner action movie that he felt would be more commercial. After the success of Anchorman and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Apatow was still unable to sell both Superbad and Pineapple Express; it was only after he produced the commercial hit Talladega Nights that Sony Pictures Entertainment decided to produce both. At this point, Rogen was unable to play the lead for Superbad, as he had grown too old to play the part of Seth. Subsequently, he was cast in a supporting role as a police officer and friend Jonah Hill took his role as the high school student. Apatow credits Rogen for influencing him to make his work more "outrageously dirty." In August 2007, Superbad opened at No. 1 in the box office to critical acclaim, taking in $33 million in its opening weekend. Industry insiders claimed Apatow was now a brand unto himself, creating movies geared toward older audiences, who would watch his movies even when the films delved into the teen genre.
Apatow has worked with a group of actors on an ongoing basis, including Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Jason Segel, and also tends to work with his close friends. He has frequently worked with producers Shauna Robertson and Barry Mendel. He reunited with Jason Segel and Amy Poehler for the 2001 Fox sitcom pilot, North Hollywood. He tries to keep a low budget on his projects and usually makes his movies about the work itself rather than using big stars. After his success in film, he hired the entire writing staff from Undeclared to write movies for Apatow Productions. He never fires writers and he keeps them on projects through all stages of productions, known colloquially as "the comedy wheel." Apatow is not committed to any specific studio, but his projects are typically set up at Universal and Sony, and in 2009 Variety reported that Universal had signed him to a 3 picture directing deal.
Apatow served as producer and co-writer along with director Jake Kasdan for the biopic spoof Walk Hard starring John C. Reilly, Kristen Wiig and Jenna Fischer, which was released in December 2007. While the film received positive reviews, it did poorly commercially. In 2008, he served as producer for Drillbit Taylor starring Owen Wilson and his wife Leslie Mann and written by Seth Rogen, which opened in March and earned negative reviews. Apatow retracted his support for the movie, feeling it was not what he had initially envisioned. For the rest of 2008, Apatow produced the comedy films Forgetting Sarah Marshall starring Jason Segel and Kristen Bell; Step Brothers, which reunites Talladega Nights co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly; and Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, both of whom originally starred on Freaks and Geeks. In addition, he served as co-writer for the Adam Sandler comedy film You Don't Mess with the Zohan, which Sandler and Robert Smigel also co-wrote.
In 2009, Apatow served as producer for the biblical comedy film Year one, starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, and directed by Harold Ramis; the film was not well received. He also released his third directorial feature on July 31 that same year, titled Funny People. Apatow wrote the film, which starred Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen as a pair of standup comedians, one of whom has a terminal illness. Other co-stars included his wife Leslie Mann and Eric Bana, who was a comedic actor in Australia before appearing in American films. The film contained more dramatic elements than Apatow's previous directorial efforts. Although the film was not financially successful (grossing $54 million domestically), the critical reception was primarily positive, with David Denby of New Yorker Magazine including the film on his top ten films of 2009, calling Funny People "a serious comedy about a funny man's brush with death" and stating that the film "is Apatow's richest, most complicated movie yet—a summing up of his feelings about comedy and its relation to the rest of existence." The New York Times critic A.O. Scott stated in a piece reflecting on summer films of 2009 that Funny People was "a movie about growing up, feeling sad, facing death—a long, serious film whose subject is the challenge of maturity. Which may be why, in the face of a softish opening weekend, various interpreters of box office data were quick to declare Funny People a flop. The summer is no time for grown-ups."
In 2010, Apatow served as producer on the Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off Get Him to the Greek with Russell Brand reprising his role and Jonah Hill returning from the original film, albeit as a different character. Released by Universal, the film did well at the box office, grossing more than 60 million dollars.
In 2011, Apatow produced the most successful R-rated female comedy of all time, Bridesmaids, which received Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Melissa McCarthy) and Best Original Screenplay (Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig), as well as two Golden Globe Award nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. Bridesmaids also won a Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Comedy Movie, a People's Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Movie and was named one of AFI's Movies of the Year. In the same year, Apatow also produced Girls after seeing Lena Dunham's 2010 film Tiny Furniture. In a January 2013 interview in Fast Company, Apatow and Dunham discussed the creative process of working on the show, saying that "this type of show is an auteur's vision. It isn't collaborative in the same way as other shows. We are probably closer to Curb Your Enthusiasm than we are to something like Friends."
Apatow produced Wanderlust (2012), starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd as a married couple who leave New York City and live in a hippie commune. He also produced The Five-Year Engagement (2012), featuring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple who have a rocky five-year engagement. Apatow's fourth directorial effort, the Knocked Up spin-off This Is 40, was released by Universal Pictures on December 21, 2012. Starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as the characters Pete and Debbie (reprising their roles from Knocked Up), the film also featured Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Lena Dunham, Chris O'Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, John Lithgow, Charlyne Yi, Albert Brooks, and Iris and Maude Apatow, as well as original music by Graham Parker & The Rumour (who play themselves). The film received mostly positive reactions from critics, with The New Yorker's Richard Brody writing that This Is 40 is "the stuff of life, and it flows like life, and, like life, it would be good for it to last longer."
In 2012, Entertainment Weekly reported that 22 years after writing an episode of The Simpsons, Apatow's script ("Bart's New Friend") was being developed into an episode that would air in 2015. Apatow co-produced Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which was released December 18, 2013, with the plot focusing on "Ron Burgundy's struggle to find his place in the rise of new media and the 24-hour news cycle." Apatow produced Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley who plays a singer-songwriter who is discovered by a struggling record label executive (played by Mark Ruffalo) and collaborates with him to produce an album recorded in public locations all over New York City. Writer-director John Carney first pitched the film in 2010 to Apatow, who produced the film alongside Tobin Armbrust and Anthony Bregman whose production company Exclusive Media financed the film's US$8 million budget.
Apatow's fifth directorial feature was the 2015 romantic comedy entitled Trainwreck. Amy Schumer wrote and starred in the film as "a basket case who tries to rebuild her life" by attempting to commit to a serious relationship with a sports doctor (Bill Hader), after a string of one-night stands with different men. The Atlantic's Christopher Orr said "this is a film that belongs not to its director but to its star, who, if there is any justice in the world, is about to ascend from cult icon to mass phenomeno." Despite a positive reception from critics, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Time was less positive–saying "In the way of most Apatow films, Trainwreck is a little too long, a little too shaggy and a little too conservative in insisting that all's square in love and war." Produced on a budget of $35 million, Trainwreck grossed $140.8 million worldwide.
It was first reported in 2010 that Apatow would be producing a new Pee-Wee Herman film starring Paul Reubens that would be written by Rebuens and Paul Rust. The film, Pee-wee's Big Holiday, was released by Netflix in March 2016–six years after the initial announcement. In 2016, he created the Netflix television comedy series Love, on which he also acts as a writer and executive producer. HBO picked up Crashing in January 2016. The series is a semi-autobiographical story of a comedian whose wife leaves him starring and created by comedian Pete Holmes, and executive produced and directed by Apatow.
In 2007 New York magazine noted that [former Apatow associate] Mike White ... was "disenchanted" by Apatow's later films, "objecting to the treatment of women and gay men in Apatow's recent movies", saying of Knocked Up: "At some point it starts feeling like comedy of the bullies, rather than the bullied." In a highly publicized Vanity Fair interview, lead actress Katherine Heigl admitted that though she enjoyed working with Apatow, she had a hard time enjoying Knocked Up herself, calling the movie "a little sexist", claiming that the film "paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight". In response to accusations of sexism, Apatow told an interviewer that the characters in the film Knocked Up "are sexist at times... but it's really about immature people who are afraid of women and relationships and learn to grow up."
Kristen Wiig, in a speech presenting Apatow with the Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence in February 2012 said that he was an "incredible collaborator and supporter" and in a 2011 interview with Elle, filmmaker Lena Dunham, who has collaborated often with Apatow said of his work, "Knocked Up is really about love. ... His movies are about people trying to get closer to themselves. He's the perfect match for a story about being 25, because that's all 25-year-olds are interested in. The other problems they encounter—money issues, conflicts at work—don't matter."
Other writers, such as ThinkProgress' Alyssa Rosenberg, praise Apatow for his "wonderfully refreshing" approach to women and comedy, quoting Apatow as saying "I got bored of penises. I said, 'enough of that.' No, I just like immaturity, I like to show people struggle and try to figure out who they are. I'm a guy and so it leaned guy for a while. But one of the projects I'm most proud of is Freaks and Geeks, which is about a woman in high school struggling to figure out which group she wants to belong to, so for me, it goes back and forth. ..."
Apatow frequently collaborates with the same cast and crew in his projects. To date, Seth Rogen has been involved with eight of Apatow's projects, as an actor, writer, and/or producer. Apatow's wife Leslie Mann has starred in five, Will Ferrell has starred in five, Paul Rudd has starred in nine, Jonah Hill has starred in seven, and Jason Segel has starred in four (as well as written two). Apatow has produced four projects written by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell. Saturday Night Live and Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig has appeared in five Apatow movies and, alongside Leslie Mann, is Apatow's main female collaborator.
He admires the filmmakers James L. Brooks, Hal Ashby, Robert Altman, John Cassavetes, and John Hughes. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rejected his first application for membership, even though he was sponsored by Academy Award-winning screenwriters Akiva Goldsman and Stephen Gaghan. Apatow became a member in 2008.
Marriage and children
Apatow met actress Leslie Mann on the set of the 1996 comedy film, The Cable Guy, where she was cast as Matthew Broderick's character's girlfriend and Apatow served as producer. They were married on June 9, 1997 in Los Angeles, and have two daughters, Maude and Iris. Mann has appeared in Freaks and Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Drillbit Taylor, Funny People, and This is 40. Both daughters appeared in Knocked Up, Funny People, and This Is 40, as Leslie Mann's character's daughters, and Maude was nominated at the 34th Young Artist Awards for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress for This is 40.
Apatow's philanthropic work includes supporting the literacy organization 826LA, the Bogart Pediatric Cancer Research Program, and Children's Cancer Research Center at Children's hospital. He edited the book I Found This Funny published by McSweeneys to benefit 826LA.
During his work on the Larry Sanders Show, Apatow was nominated for five Emmys, as well as a Critics' Choice Television Award. In 2007, he was nominated for a Grammy and a Golden Globe for co-writing the song "Walk Hard" (nominated for Best Song Written for Motion Picture). Apatow's work was also nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 2012 and 2013 Primetime Emmys for Girls and was also nominated at the Critics' Choice Television Awards for Girls. In 2012, Apatow received the Hollywood Comedy Award at the 16th annual Hollywood Film Awards presented by the Hollywood Film Festival.
In the 2013 Critics Choice Award Nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Apatow's film This Is 40 was nominated for Best Comedy as were Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd for their performances in the film. On January 10, 2013, the Broadcast Film Critics Association awarded Apatow the Critics' Choice Louis XIII Genius Award named after a cognac. On October 3, 2013, The San Diego Film Festival awarded Apatow the esteemed Visionary Filmmaker Award.
Apatow has been nominated for three Awards Circuit Community Awards, once for Best Director for the 2007 film Knocked Up and twice for Best Original Screenplay for Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, for which he shared the nomination with star and co-writer Steve Carell. Apatow was also nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay for his work on The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a nomination also shared with Carell, and Knocked Up.
In 2015, Apatow's film Trainwreck was nominated for 2 Golden Globe Awards, including a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, the first film directed by Apatow to achieve this feat. The film was also nominated for 3 Critics' Choice Movie Awards, including Best Comedy.
|1992||Crossing the Bridge||No||Associate||No||No|
|The Cable Guy||No||Yes||No||No|
|2004||Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy||No||Yes||No||Yes||News Station Employee|
|2005||Kicking & Screaming||No||Executive||No||No|
|The 40-Year-Old Virgin||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Fun with Dick and Jane||No||No||Yes||No|
|2006||The TV Set||No||Executive||No||No|
|Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby||No||Yes||No||No|
|Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Forgetting Sarah Marshall||No||Yes||No||No|
|You Don't Mess with the Zohan||No||No||Yes||No|
|2010||Get Him to the Greek||No||Yes||No||No|
|Zookeeper||No||No||No||Yes||Barry The Elephant (voice)|
|The Five-Year Engagement||No||Yes||No||No|
|This Is 40||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|2013||Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues||No||Yes||No||No|
|2016||Pee-wee's Big Holiday||No||Yes||No||No|
|Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping||No||Yes||No||No|
|The Big Sick||No||Yes||No||No||Post-production|
|1992–93||The Ben Stiller Show||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Foxy The Fox, Jay Leno||13 episodes, also co-creator|
|1993–98||The Larry Sanders Show||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||76 episodes|
|1994–95||The Critic||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Jay Leno||21 episodes|
|1995||NewsRadio||No||No||No||Yes||Goofy Ball||Episode: "Goofy Ball"|
|1999–2000||Freaks and Geeks||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||18 episodes|
|2001–02||Undeclared||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||17 episodes, also creator|
|2006||Help Me Help You||No||No||No||Yes||Judd||2 episodes|
|2010–11||Funny or Die Presents||No||Yes||Yes||No||36 episodes, also co-creator|
|2011||America in Primetime||No||No||No||Yes||Himself||4 episodes|
|2014||The Simpsons||No||No||No||Yes||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Steal This Episode"|
|2015||No||No||Yes||No||Episode: "Bart's New Friend"|
|2015||Comedy Bang! Bang!||No||No||No||Yes||Himself||Episode: "Judd Apatow Wears A Polo and Blue Suede Shoes"|
|2016||Lady Dynamite||No||No||No||Yes||Himself||Episode: "Loaf Coach"|
- (2010) Editor, I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny at All. San Francisco: McSweeney's. ISBN 978-1934781906.
- (2015) Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0812997576.
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In an attempt to rid America of its phallophobia, Judd Apatow once vowed to include a penis in every one of his movies.
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Says Apatow: "I like movies that are, you know, up-lifting and hopeful ... and I like filth."
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- Judd Apatow at the Internet Movie Database
- NPR: Morning Edition Sunday audio interview—August 21, 2005
- LA Times article—May 15, 2007
- Wired Magazine story—May 2007
- Rolling Stone interview
- A.V. Club interview—July 30, 2009
- "Sentieri selvaggi Magazine" n.6: Judd Apatow e lo stato della commedia marzo/aprile 2013 (Archive) (Italian)