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Amy Schumer‘s Trainwreck marks the first movie that Judd Apatow directed but didn’t write, with Schumer scripting and starring in the film.
But the veteran director said not being the writer on Trainwreck freed him up “to focus on other aspects” and ultimately make the movie better.
“If you’re writing, you don’t think about other parts of the filming process. So I could rewrite forever and never think about what lens I’m using and things like that and just ways to make the movie look better,” Apatow told The Hollywood Reporter at Tuesday night’s Trainwreck premiere in New York. “By not being the writer, it’s easier for me to look at [Schumer’s] script and try to just figure out what’s working and what’s better and give her thoughtful notes.”
Apatow and Schumer were joined by their Trainwreck colleagues — including Bill Hader, LeBron James, Vanessa Bayer, Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia and Amar’e Stoudemire — at the movie’s official worldwide debut at New York’s Lincoln Center, following advance screenings at South By Southwest and in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio. The movie features Schumer as promiscuous men’s magazine writer Amy who meets and falls for a sports doctor played by Hader.
But as much as Trainwreck is about Schumer’s character’s love life it’s also about her family, featuring several touching scenes with Amy’s dad (Quinn) and sister (Larson).
Schumer told THR that both storylines work together.
“I think this movie’s a love letter to my sister, and the real way I realized I was hurting myself and being destructive was through falling in love,” she said.
In her loosely autobiographical script, Schumer drew on real aspects of her father and sister to inspire Quinn and Larson’s characters.
And Quinn said that he too tried to model his character on Schumer’s real dad.
“I went and hung out with him a couple of days,” Quinn told THR. “I got to know him, not well, but pretty decent.”
As for his rapport with Schumer, Quinn noted he didn’t need to spend any time developing that on set.
“We knew each other from comedy clubs, so we spent a lot of time together over the years. She just saw that relationship,” he said.
Before Amy meets Hader’s doctor character, she’s shown dating and sleeping with a handful of other men, including John Cena‘s Steven, who gets in a memorable movie theater argument in which he responds to being called “Mark Wahlberg” by saying he looks “like Mark Wahlberg ate Mark Wahlberg.”
Still the WWE star said he was “nervous as hell” about what was a new experience for him.
“I was thrust into a room with a lot of funny folks, and they pretty much wanted me to be funny so I just gave it my best shot,” he said.
Cena’s one of several non-actors in the film, another being rapper Method Man, who has a small part as an orderly at Amy’s dad’s assisted-living facility.
Method Man said he jumped at the chance to work with Schumer and Apatow, both of whom he was fans of. He seized the opportunity to finally work with the director after RZA beat him out for a role in Apatow’s Funny People.
In the film, the rapper affects an accent, something he said he wove into the role in his audition.
“The character description was either West Indian or African. A West Indian [accent is] a bit harder to do than African, but from where I’m from, I grew up with it. So it was pretty cool for me to pull it off, kind of out of my pocket. Then I went to a dialect coach to perfect it,” he explained.
Trainwreck viewers will also hear some Billy Joel, with one of his songs playing a memorable role in the film. When asked why he brought in the Piano Man, Apatow said, “I’m from Long Island so there’s always going to be a lot of Billy Joel surrounding me. We all went to see him when we were shooting the movie. His music’s not in a lot of movies, so it was very effective.”
[Warning: Mild spoilers ahead for Trainwreck]
The movie also features a film-within-a-film, specifically a fake movie called The Dogwalker, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei that plays during the aforementioned theater scene and on TV later in the movie.
“[The scene] was in a movie theater, so we thought ‘Oh we have to put something on the screen, maybe we could shoot something weird,’ so Amy came up with this idea for The Dogwalker, a bad Sundance film starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei,” Apatow said of making the fake film. “So they came in one morning and just improvised all morning and we put some silly clips from that up on the screen.”
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