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Judd Apatow is willing to sacrifice for his art.
The veteran director likes to recycle a close cast of friends and family in his films, including wife Leslie Mann and their two daughters — all three of whom starred in his latest comedy, This Is 40. Having them in his films means that he immediately has an intimate working relationship with his actors, providing a rare dose of authenticity. But it also can lead to some difficult moments — especially as far as sex scenes are concerned.
“I’m always disgusted when she fools around with anyone,” Apatow told Alec Baldwin on his WNYC Podcast, Here’s the Thing. “I remember when we shot The Cable Guy she kissed Matthew Broderick, and then when they parted I saw in the dailies there was like a spit string that connected them for like a foot.”
Apatow and Mann met on that film, which he produced for director Ben Stiller, and Mann assured her new boyfriend that she didn’t enjoy kissing Broderick. Still, he hasn’t gotten comfortable watching her kiss someone else, whether it was Jeff Goldblum in the 2001 film Perfume or Paul Rudd, who plays a sort of stand-in for Apatow in This Is 40.
In that most recent scenario, Apatow saw the tables turn. During a difficult scene in which they’re in bed, Rudd improvised with a fart — which entirely disgusted Mann, who had to go with the scene as the cameras continued to roll.
Of course, it’s not just a volley of gross-outs between the pair. Apatow says Mann is instrumental in helping shape the script — especially from a woman’s perspective.
“I asked her before I write the script. I’ll say, ‘Are you comfortable doing a fictionalized version of how we feel about this time in our lives?’” he explained. “And I’ll start telling her some of the story and then she starts pitching me Debbie’s point of view and scenes. A lot of the scenes in the movie are Leslie standing up for her character so it’s balanced. It’s not like I write a script and hand it to her.”
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