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Other segments from the episode on November 20, 2009

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, November 20, 2009: Interview with Judd Apatow; Review of the film "New Moon."


Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
Judd Apatow On The Alchemy Of “Funny People”


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest, Judd Apatow, is behind a lot of
hit comedy films. He wrote and directed "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked
Up," and he was a producer of "Superbad," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Step
Brothers," "Pineapple Express," "Talladega Nights," "Anchorman" and "Walk
Hard." He was the executive producer of the TV series, "Freaks and Geeks,"
which launched the careers of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and James Franco.

I spoke with Judd Apatow over the summer, when his film "Funny People" was in
theaters. It comes out next week on DVD. "Funny People" stars Adam Sandler as
George Simmons, a famous comic who's diagnosed with a rare blood disease that
is usually terminal. Suddenly facing the prospect of death, Simmons hires a
young comic, Ira Wright, played by Seth Rogen, to be his writer and all-around
assistant at the mansion he lives in by himself. "Funny People" follows the
story of this successful comic who is reevaluating his life and a group of
younger comics, Ira Wright and his friends, who are trying to make it in
comedy. Here's a scene just after Ira, Seth Rogen, accepts the job with George,
Adam Sandler. They're in George's kitchen.

(Soundbite of movie, "Funny People")

Mr. ADAM SANDLER (Actor): (As George Simmons) I want you to possibly do me a

Mr. SETH ROGEN (Actor): (As Ira Wright) Okay, yeah, what?

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) Kill me.

Mr. ROGEN: (As Ira) What?

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) Nobody knows we know each other. You're a stranger.
You can get away with this. I got a gun in the other room, it's untraceable.
I'll give you $50,000. Don't make me suffer. Please, kill me, Ira. I'm begging

Mr. ROGEN: (As Ira) Can you at least give me, like, a night to think about it?

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) Ha! Think about it? You would do it.

Mr. ROGEN: (As Ira) Oh, I hate you, man. Oh, no.

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) Ira, I misread you. You're sick. You're a murderer.

Mr. ROGEN: (As Ira) Aw, (censored).

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) You wanted to do it. What would you have done for
$100,000? Chop my head off?

GROSS: Judd Apatow, welcome back to FRESH AIR. I really loved this film, and I
thought it was really interesting that you're dealing with mortality in it.
You're dealing with a character who's getting older, and it's in part about a
search for meaning, as well as, like, a search for sex and comedy…

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: …though, yeah, there's that, too. And I felt, watching it, like maybe
this was, like, your younger self and your older self kind of meeting each
other in a movie or being represented in a movie.

Mr. JUDD APATOW (Writer, Director): It is like an episode of "Star Trek"
starring Frank Gorshin.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: I think that that's true. You know, I watched the movie. Sometimes
I feel like I'm more like Seth's character, and then when I'm honest with
myself, I realize I'm more like George's character. It's definitely - nothing
in the movie is based on fact, but it's all very, very truthful to how I feel
about things and things I struggle with. So maybe it is my inner turmoil turned
into comedy for America's amusement.

GROSS: Now, you and Adam Sandler were roommates in Los Angeles when you were
working at The Improv, and he had just moved out to L.A. And in your movie -
the movie actually - "Funny People" actually opens with some video footage that
you shot, back when you were roommates, of Adam Sandler making phony phone
calls, prank phone calls. Is that something that he would do a lot?

Mr. APATOW: Well, back then, we were in our early 20’s. Adam had been on MTV,
on the TV show "Remote Control." He wasn't successful, but there was a buzz
around him that he was somebody who was going to do very well. There was no
buzz around me whatsoever.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: I was MC-ing at The Improv, and Adam had so much energy to be funny
that he would be very funny with strangers on the street. He would yell out the
car window. He would bug everyone on an elevator because nobody knew who he
was, and he had no outlet. And one of the ways that he expended this comic
energy is he made a lot of prank phone calls for hours and hours. He couldn't
have been more amused by it. And it really was funny, and after a while, I
started recording them on audio, and then I started videotaping them. Then when
I was writing the movie, I thought, well, this is a good way to start the movie
because Adam looks so happy in this footage. He just looks young and pure and
excited about his life. And then after the prank call in the movie, we cut to
him in current times, and his character, the light is just out of his eyes.
He's in a giant house and he's rich and famous, and he couldn't look more

GROSS: Were you ambivalent at all about the phony phone calls because of the
person on the other end who was being made the fool?

Mr. APATOW: I was never into phony phone calls. I don't like confrontation that
much. Phony phone calls are something you do when you're young, and you're
trying to pretend you're an adult. That's the whole hook: Can you convince an
adult you are an adult? And so when you're an adult, it's easy. People will
believe anything that you say. So I would get very uncomfortable because people
wouldn't hang up. They would talk to Adam forever.

A lot of the phony phone calls were - was him calling restaurants and
complaining about the food. He would call as an old lady and say the roast beef
made him sick, and slowly he would try to finagle a free sandwich out of them.

GROSS: What was your act like at the time when you met Adam Sandler and you
were working at The Improv and also functioning as the MC there?

Mr. APATOW: I wasn't that funny. I started doing stand-up when I was 17. I
didn't have any life experience except high school. I only went to college for
a year and a half. So I had almost nothing to draw on. I, you know, I probably
was a very mediocre - like if Bill Maher was really, really boring and had no
life experience, no edge and no wit. That was me.

I did get funny enough eventually that I got on the HBO "Young Comedians"
special with people like Ray Romano and Janeane Garofalo. But I knew that I
wasn't as good as the people that I was looking up to, like Bill Maher and
Seinfeld and Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey, but I can write jokes for them. And
my jokes seemed to work. So slowly, I became a writer.

GROSS: "Funny People" is such a kind of valentine to - an ambivalent valentine,
in some ways, to young comics getting started, as well as being about an older
comic who's become hardened and cynical. And, you know, Seth Rogen is one of
the young comics, and his character's doing a lot of, like, fart and
masturbation jokes. And at one point, the Adam Sandler character goes up to him
and says: Is your act designed to make sure no girl ever sleeps with you again?

Mr. APATOW: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Did you ever do that kind of humor, and - yeah, let's start with that.
Did you ever do that kind of humor yourself?

Mr. APATOW: I wasn't filthy. In fact, I got on the HBO "Young Comedians"
special, and it was the first time I got on cable, and I thought I should take
advantage of this and I should curse. But I didn't have any dirty jokes, so I
just added the F-curse randomly throughout my act. And every once in a while,
they show it on Comedy Central, and they're beeping me constantly, and none of
the jokes require cursing. And it's very, very embarrassing to me. So no, that
wasn't what my subject was about because in order to have jokes about sex, you
would have needed to have had sex.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: So I did not have the experience to do those jokes.

GROSS: Were you exposed to a lot of comics who did?

Mr. APATOW: I was exposed to a lot of comics who did. There was - there's
definitely a correlation between people who want to perform and people who want
to meet the crowd and have sex with them. There's definitely a lot of sexual
energy in the comedy clubs. Do not chat with the comedians after the show,
people. You'll put yourself in a dangerous situation.

Me, I'm uncomfortable. I'm the guy that wrote "The 40 Year Old Virgin." I never
walked up to a woman cold in my entire life. You know, I need a formal
introduction. I need to sit next to them at work for a year or two before I
talk to them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: I could never approach anybody.

GROSS: But you seem to be fascinated by the kinds of guys who are more brazen
and who talk about sex all the time and brag about it, whether they know what
they're talking about or not.

Mr. APATOW: Yes. I find that endlessly funny. I don't think it's healthy. I
find all sexuality really, really hilarious. You know, it always made me laugh
that if you're young, and you walk up to a woman and you say hello, on some
level, the code is: I'm interested in you. And if she says hello and keeps
talking to you, she's - in code - saying okay, we can continue to talk because
there's a chance maybe I could like you at some point.

And because I was so aware that there was this constant, coded conversation
happening, I never wanted to have that conversation. I just felt strange about
it. But people doing it I find endlessly fascinating, and maybe I'm jealous. I
don't know. I spent many years talking to other people, saying, like, and you
did what? And then she said what? And then you did that? And she said okay?
That's, you know, that's how I spent most of my young life, shocked at what
other people did.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: My guest is Judd Apatow. He wrote and directed the new film, "Funny
People." More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Judd Apatow, and he wrote and
directed "40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and the new movie, "Funny People,"
and he directed - he produced all the Judd Apatow films. You're such a brand
name now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: I'm like Kraft cheese.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: You really are a brand. One of the things I really like about "Funny
People" is that the comics who are in the movie, we see excerpts of the movies
and the TV shows that their characters have made over the years. And the George
Simmons character - this is the character played by Adam Sandler - one of his
movies is called "Re-Do." And it's a movie in which the character meets a
wizard and asks the wizard to make him young again, and the wizard makes him
into a baby. So he's like a baby with the adult Adam Sandler's head on his
body. And I want to play a clip from this movie-within-the-movie. And if our
listeners want to see it, you actually have, like, a fake Web site for the
comic George Simmons. So here's a scene from this movie, "Re-Do," and he's
talking to his younger brother, who's played by Justin Long, the actor who's
also famous for his role in the Mac commercials.

(Soundbite of movie, "Funny People")

Mr. JUSTIN LONG (Actor): (As Re-Do Guy) What you doing?

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) Listen. We've got a meeting at 5 o'clock,
and if I'm not there, the whole thing falls apart.

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) No, Craig, you're not going to the meeting. You're a

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) Really? Thanks for telling me. I forgot for
a second that I had a one-inch penis.

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) This is not a picnic for me, either, Craig. Who's been
changing your diapers, huh? Who's been feeding you with the airplane noises?

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) If you would have met me at lunch like we
said we were, I wouldn't have wandered off into the woods and fell into that

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) Craig, listen to me. I'm doing the best I can, okay?

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) I wiped your ass our entire childhood. Now
it's your turn, buddy.

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) Well, you're the one that asked a wizard to make you
young again.

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) I didn't mean this young.

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) Listen, Craig. I know this has been hard on you, pal.
I do. I - it's been hard on all of us.

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) It's not you. It's this whole situation.

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) Unfortunately, there's no handbook for this kind of
thing. I'm just kind of winging it here, pal.

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) You know, it took me becoming a baby to
realize what it means to be a man.

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) Well said.

Mr. SANDLER: (As George) (As Craig) Okay, get the BabyBjorn. We're going to go
find that wizard.

Mr. LONG: (As Re-Do Guy) Now that sounds like a plan.

GROSS: That really cracks me up. And that's an excerpt of Judd Apatow's new
movie, "Funny People," and it's a clip from the movie that the Adam Sandler
character made.

Mr. APATOW: It's very complicated.

GROSS: Yeah, I mean, you're talking about a movie-within-a-movie.

Mr. APATOW: It's a clip from a movie that isn't real, but it's in the movie,
which is also not real. It's many meta-meta-levels. But I would like to point
out that that clip, only about 10 seconds of it is in the movie, and then we
created a much longer version of the clip just for the Internet because we
wanted to have a very elaborate Internet site which followed the careers of all
the characters in the movie.

GROSS: This strikes me as a kind of movie that could have been pitched to Adam
Sandler - you know, a man in an infant's body because of a wizard's curse or a
wizard's magic wand or whatever, and, you know, mayhem ensues. So tell me about
coming up for this idea of the movie-within-the-movie.

Mr. APATOW: Well, what we wanted to do was, you know, have fun with the modern
comedy star's career because we've all made all of these movies. If you just go
down the list of all the big comedy stars, they have the times they tried to do
their dramatic movie. They have their Disney movies. They have their R-rated
movies, their kind of bromantic comedies, if you will. So we wanted to just
have fun with his career. And it was also important to me that he was a star
who - he wasn't like Richard Pryor. He's just trying to make people laugh and
make people happy. He doesn't take it that seriously. He's not meant to be an
artist in the movie. Then when he gets sick, and he thinks about his life, he
really wonders, you know, was it all worth it? I basically didn't attempt to
have real relationships with people so that I could be this big movie star, and
now I'm sick, and I'm all alone.

GROSS: There's another clip of a TV show within the movie, and, you know, Seth
Rogen plays a young comic in the movie, and one of his roommates is played by
Jason Schwartzman. And the Jason Schwartzman character gets the lead part in a
TV series called "Yo Teach!" And this is supposed to be, like, the hip-hop
version of "Head of the Class."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: It's "Dangerous Minds: The Sitcom."

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Yeah, perfect. So I want to play that.

(Soundbite of Internet video for film, "Funny People")

Mr. JASON SCHWARTZMAN (Actor): (As Mark Taylor Jackson) (As Teach) Who is your
favorite rapper?

Mr. SANDLER: (As announcer) This fall on NBC, school is back in session. Mark
Taylor Jackson is "Yo Teach!"

Mr. SCHWARTZMAN: (As Jackson) (As Teach) All right. Do you guys know who the
greatest rapper of all time is? William Sh-sh-sh-shakespeare.

Mr. SCHWARTZMAN: (As Jackson) I play Teach. I teach at a school to a classroom
of teenagers who society has kind of left behind, that society feels are
unteachable and have been forgotten, but my character is young and passionate
and really wants to lead these kids into a brighter, better future.

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) What if I try and I find out I'm

Mr. SCHWARTZMAN: (As Jackson) (As Teach) Whoa. Who says you're stupid?

Unidentified Man #1: (As character) Everybody. My mom and my coach. Calvin says
I'm stupid. Calvin's the stupidest kid in this room.

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As Calvin) Yeah, call me stupid. Come on.

Unidentified Man #1: (As character) Calvin, you stupidest kid in this - look at
you. You're wearing a sleeveless shirt and a winter hat.

Mr. SCHWARTZMAN: (As Jackson) (As Teach) Okay guys, guys, knock it off. You're
all stupid if you don't help each other out and support one another.

GROSS: I love it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: That's a fake ad for…

Mr. APATOW: That's a - yeah, a fake ad for a TV show in the movie. So that ad
isn't actually in the movie. It's just part of our Web site. Clearly, we have
way too much time on our hands to create all of these worlds. It's our Dungeons
& Dragons, I guess.

GROSS: Did you have friends like the Jason Schwartzman character who became
famous for really bad TV shows, but they wouldn't admit that it was bad? Or
maybe they didn't even know it was bad?

Mr. APATOW: Yeah, we had one friend who got on a sitcom, and suddenly he would
get a check every other week, I think, for about $40,000. And he was just a
young guy - 21, 22 years old - and he would leave the checks around the house…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: …as a way of making fun of us. Like, oh, did I just leave that
check there? I'm sorry. I have so many of them. I - they're hard to keep track

And that would happen sometimes in the world of comedy. There'd be a guy and he
would have a good set in front of someone from NBC, and suddenly he would get a
holding deal for $50,000 or $100,000, and suddenly this guy who was broke would
have a big chunk of change. And rarely did their series work out, but for a
short period of time, they were loaded.

GROSS: You had to write a lot of comedy routines for "Funny People," because
all the characters in it are comics, and they're all doing their acts in clubs,
you know, from Seth Rogen to Adam Sandler. So what was it like writing these
comic routines for different characters, for different personalities, for
people who are really different from you - and some of them like you?

Mr. APATOW: You know, that was the part I was most excited about. I was such a
big fan of Adam's stand-up comedy. He hadn't done comedy in 10 years. So it was
a great way to force him to do it again. What we did was we sat down and did
these round tables with people like Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, and we
would write jokes. And then Adam would go off and write jokes by himself and
with his friend, Allen Covert, who works on his movies. And the main intention
was to build an entire act. I didn't try to be specific and say, in this scene,
I need this joke. We basically wrote an entire, new routine. By the end of it,
Adam had a 50-minute set of jokes he could tell at any given time. And then we
shot him doing his act in multiple locations, and then later I tried to decide
which jokes to use in which part of the movie.

And the act is filthy. You know, we didn't want him, you know, to be a
thoughtful comedian. We thought it was more important that he was in denial. He
doesn't want to think about being sick. He wants to go on stage and tell all of
these dirty jokes. So it was fun to come up with this filthy routine for him.

GROSS: So did it unleash the filthy part of you that you never really did on

Mr. APATOW: I've got to say, I'm still not fantastic at writing a filthy joke.
Seth can write filthy jokes all day long. He could write a 10-hour act about
pleasuring himself…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: …and it probably would be amusing beginning to end. He was like: I
thought of another bit today about trying to pleasure yourself to nothing, to
just think of nothing and pleasure yourself. Can you do it? And he - every day,
he would think of something. And I showed incredible restraint by only putting
one of those jokes in the movie, because I had about 300 of them to choose

GROSS: Do I have this right that your mother worked in a comedy club when you
were a teenager?

Mr. APATOW: When I was in junior high school my parents got divorced. And they
owned a restaurant, and there was a bartender name Rick Messina(ph) there and
after he left the restaurant, he opened up a few comedy clubs. And one was
called the East End Comedy Club which was in Southampton, New York. And my mom
moved to Southampton, and for one summer, she was the hostess at this comedy
club. And suddenly I was 15 years old, and I was allowed to sit and watch the
shows at a very adult comedy club every weekend. And it was just an incredibly
exciting summer for me. I would get to chat with some of the comics. Jay Leno
performed there that weekend, maybe it was 1982 or something, and that really
made me want to do it. Suddenly it seemed possible. These comedians were real
people. You could actually talk to them. And the man that owned the comedy
clubs, Rick Messina, later gave me a job as a dishwasher at the Eastside Comedy
Club and Eddie Murphy used to come in and Rosie O'Donnell.

And then I realized, why am I working as a dishwasher? I'm in the kitchen. I
can't see the show. So I became a busboy. And Rick later on went to California
and became a manager, and he manages Tim Allen and then became a very
successful man, so we've had this relationship since I was about 10 years old.

GROSS: Judd Apatow will be back in the second half of the show. His film,
"Funny People," comes out next week on DVD. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH

(Soundbite of music)


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry back with Judd Apatow, the writer and director of
"The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," and the producer of "Superbad,"
"Pineapple Express," "Talladega Nights" and "Anchorman."

His latest film, "Funny People," comes out on DVD next week. It stars Adam
Sandler as a successful comic who's just been diagnosed with a rare blood
disease that is usually terminal. The film also stars Seth Rogen, Jason
Schwartzman, Jonah Hill, Eric Bana, and Leslie Mann.

You know, so many of your movies are about that kind of tension between like
juvenile sexist and sex-obsessed versions of manhood, of maleness, and the more
adult version of what it means to be a man. I guess why - I'm really interested
in why you're so interested in that divide?

Mr. APATOW: I really - I feel like everybody on Earth is very immature. As I
get older, I'm 41 now, I'm realizing that adults are not smarter than young
people, some might say they're dumber. I don't meet many 70-year-old that I
think, what a wise person who could give me so much wisdom.

I think most people are a mess and they're either covering up the mess or
they're openly a mess, and we’re all struggling, and a 60-year-old man can be
as immature as a 15-year-old boy. I'm sure there are exceptions. I doubt Walter
Cronkite was that way...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: ...but most of us are that way, and I also think it's funny to
expose it and talk about it. Now that my friends are all in their 40s, I really
do think, man, we’re just as dumb as ever. I actually think it's even funnier
when people think that they are wise or they do have their act together. You
know, the funniest thing in the world is someone who's self-assured. You know,
who's more hilarious than Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney? People who think they
have all the answers, they're the people to be the most frightened of.

GROSS: So many of the characters in your films, including "40 Year Old Virgin"
and "Knocked Up" and the new one, "Funny People," are so, you know, ambivalent
about becoming really adult and about entering into a committed relationship or
staying in a committed relationship. So where does that fear or ambivalence
come from? Is it from observing other people or something you had to deal with

Mr. APATOW: You know, I'm not very ambivalent about it. I'm so happy to be
married. I can't believe my wife is there every day. I'm just - I think that
we’re on a first date and she's going to climb out the window when we go to a

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: I feel like I've lucked out. On some level I feel like I've tricked
her and she's married to me and I feel bad that she's not allowed to escape. So
there's no ambivalence on my part. I'm really, really happy and have these
incredible kids that I just - I don’t even know how it happened.

Now, why I write about people who are unhappy is because I don't think there's
anything funny in happiness. People who are really comfortable with their
situation I just don't want to watch in a movie theater. I'd like to hang out
at a barbecue with them, but there's no drama in things going well.

So people say, now, why is everybody so immature? Why do these people say these
sexist things? Because it's funny to watch people evolve and learn from their
mistakes, and it's funnier if they're horrible. It's funnier if the marriage is
horrible. It's funnier if he's really immature. It's funnier if he's really
sexist. It's funny if she's very angry, because people who are mature for the
most part are kind of boring.

GROSS: Now, your wife, Leslie Mann, has been in all three of the films that you
wrote and directed. She was a kind of, you know, wild and drunken woman who
meets Steve Carell – is it at a bar?

Mr. APATOW: She actually meets him at a nightclub...

GROSS: Yeah. And...

Mr. APATOW: Nicky.

GROSS: And then they go off together and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: ...she's drunk and driving really terribly, and that's a really funny

Mr. APATOW: And then she vomits on his face.

GROSS: Yes. And then in "Knocked Up" she plays the wife in the married couple
and it's her sister-in-law who gets pregnant through the Seth Rogen character.
And then in the new movie, why don't you explain her role in the new movie.

Mr. APATOW: In the new movie, George Simmons is this famous comedian and when
he gets sick he calls his old flame, Laura, and we’re not really sure why they
don't talk anymore or why she's so mad at him. But it comes out that when they
dated about a dozen years earlier he cheated on her and he broke her heart.

So when he's sick, she visits him and she thinks he's going to die, so she
tells him you were the love of my life and I love you more than I love my
husband, who by the way also cheats on me and that she basically tried to find
someone very different from George and found someone who was very similar. And
part of the movie is about George thinking he can win her back when he gets

GROSS: So your wife's been in all three of the movies you wrote and directed
and your children have been in two of them. They were the kids in "Knocked Up"
and they're the kids...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: the new movie, and they're two really gorgeous little girls.
There's a great scene in "Funny People" in which the character who your wife
plays asks...

Mr. APATOW: Laura.

GROSS: Yeah, Laura asks George, the Adam Sandler character, to watch a video of
her daughter performing in a scene from a high school play, and she's singing
"Memory" from "Cats." And it's just an amazing video. I assume it's a real
video that your daughter made from a real school show?

Mr. APATOW: My daughter performs in these plays that are part of an after
school program and she was going to sing "Memory" from "Cats." She refused to
sing it in front of us, and she was 10 years old. We show up at the show not
knowing if it's going to be great or terrible, and she starts singing and it's
incredible, and incredible to the point where strangers are crying and crying

It's like she's an old soul and I don't know where it comes from or what it’s
about, but it’s really powerful. And at some point I thought, well, if Leslie's
character showed this to Adam's character and he didn’t care and he wasn't
moved, it would say a lot about his ability to be an adult and to share the
spotlight. And so that's one of the sequences in the movie.

GROSS: So how does your daughter feel about the video being in the movie?

Mr. APATOW: The fascinating thing is that my kids, who are 11 and six, they
really couldn’t care less about the movie. They're not allowed to see the movie
because it's R-rated and they...

GROSS: Oh, of course. Of course.

Mr. APATOW: ...they have not seen "Knocked Up." So when they shoot these
movies, it’s just like a strange two week vacation where they see Seth and Adam
a lot and there's a crew around and lots of candy on a craft service table. I
try to get them excited about it, but they would rather watch the new 10-
episode marathon of "SpongeBob Square Pants." So I guess that's healthy. You
know, if other people call and say, you know, can your kid be in my movie, we
say no.

GROSS: My guest is Judd Apatow. His latest film, "Funny People," stars Adam
Sandler and Seth Rogen. It comes out on DVD next week.

More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Judd Apatow and he wrote and
directed "The 40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and the new movie "Funny

You know, we were talking about what makes something funny and you were saying,
you know, like happiness isn't funny and something needs to like go wrong or be
imperfect. And we were talking about like filthy humor and everything.

There's a scene I've always wanted to ask you about ever since I saw "Knocked
Up," and you know, at the end of the movie the woman who is pregnant out of
wedlock with Seth Rogen and they are so - they're such different types that
they kind of end up falling in love and, you know, she has the baby. And at the
end we see her giving birth, and he's, you know, by her side the whole time.

And one of his really immature friends walks in in the middle of this birth
sequence, because he hears her screaming in pain and he thinks maybe there's
something I can do to help, and he walks in and he sees the baby crowning
between her legs, and we see it too. And he is just – well, you can explain how
he is because I'm not sure what to say about it. But he's just kind of like
shaken by the experience of seeing this. And he goes out and he's kind of
ashen, and the Jonah Hill character basically says to him, oh yeah, after
seeing that you'll never be able to be sexually aroused again.

And so when I saw it in a movie theater, people acted like, oh yeah, that's the
real gross-out moment, watching the baby come out. And I'm just wondering,
like, what did you want...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: ...people to see when they saw that film - that part of the film?

Mr. APATOW: What always made me laugh when my wife was pregnant was there were
always some guys who would say don't look when the baby comes out. Don't look
because you'll never want to have sex again. And you know, I certainly looked
and it didn't trouble me at all. But the type of person that can't handle it I
think is really funny. And there were those people who, you know, their wives
had babies and they had never read the baby books and they stayed in denial
about it for most of the time. But I wanted to do the thing that you never see
in a movie.

You know, there's been a lot of births in movies but you never see the baby
come out. In fact, I was hoping that I could shoot a real birth with Seth there
and pan from the baby coming out directly to Seth's face and get a real
reaction to Seth seeing a birth. But then later, I found out that I couldn’t do
it because the baby would need a work permit and you cannot...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: ...get a work permit unless you have been born. So I had a Catch-22
there. But that is, you know, one of my favorite scenes, and Jay Baruchel is
hilarious flipping out.

GROSS: I'm interested in your approach to casting, because you have this whole
like stable of people, like a whole repertory cast you've develop from -
basically from "Freaks and Geeks." There's like Seth Rogen and Jason Segel

Mr. APATOW: James Franco.

GROSS: James Franco. Yes. James Franco. And it's just kind of amazing that you
started working with these people before they had worked anyplace else, before
anybody knew who they were, and you’ve kept working with them. They’ve all
become stars. Can you talk a little bit about like discovering people who you
want to work with and then staying with them?

Mr. APATOW: When we were looking for the cast for "Freaks and Geeks," we knew
that we would rewrite the script based on the actors we found. Paul had very
specific ideas for each character. But it seemed more interesting to just find
unique personalities and have Paul revise it to their traits. And so we fell in
love with all these kids. And when the show was cancelled, I thought, well,
I've just scratched the surface of what you can do with these people. So I used
a lot of them in "Undeclared."

And now I've made movies with a bunch of them. And they're great people.
They're really funny and talented. A lot of the ones that I haven't worked with
from "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared" I hope to work with in the future. I
certainly feel a responsibility to work with them. A lot of them didn't go to
college because they got a job on a show that was cancelled. So I want to keep
all of them out of the penitentiary system. So we'll see what happens. Maybe
I'll succeed.

GROSS: Now, I want to get back to "Funny People." In "Funny People," you know,
Adam Sandler is this, like, 40-something comic who's been diagnosed with a
terminal illness. He has an eight percent chance of recovering from it. And he
hires the Seth Rogen character to be his joke writer but also his assistant.
And one of the things he wants Seth Rogen to do is to talk him to sleep at

The Adam Sandler character, even though he doesn't like being around people, he
doesn't really care much about what other people think, when the sun goes down
and he's alone at home in bed, he gets those kind of like nighttime scares that
so many people get. And he wants to be talked to sleep. Where does that come

Mr. APATOW: It comes from a few places. When I used to live with Adam, he found
a chair on the street - we were both 21, 22 years old, and living in a crappy
apartment - and he put this chair next to his bed. And at night he would say,
hey, talk to me while I try to go to sleep. And we would recap our day and
slowly Adam would fall asleep. And I realized, oh, he doesn't want to be alone
right up until the moment he goes to sleep. Now, that’s something he has since
outgrown. But what I do nowadays is I will download on my iPod FRESH AIR, THIS
AMERICAN LIFE, Deepak Chopra books. And every night, when it’s time to go to
sleep, I’ll put something on and I’ll listen to it because I don’t want to hear
the voices in my head and I’d rather hear you talking to Tobias Wolff or

And for some reason it makes me very happy. And I’ve slept much better since I
realized that I could put the ear bud in one ear and then not in the other ear
and put that ear on the pillow. Because it would hurt if I had the ear buds in
both ears. Now, I have to pick a FRESH AIR that is a topic that I think will
calm me down.

GROSS: As opposed to making you more nervous. Right, exactly.

Mr. APATOW: Yeah. If you’re talking Iraq war, I can’t go to sleep to that. But
I can slowly, over the course of an hour, calm down to a combo show with, like,
Bill Murray and Diane Keaton and it’ll just kind of make me happy and I’ll
listen and then I’ll drift off. And the next night I’ll start from the point I
fell asleep, and I’ll listen to the end. This is the highest praise for you.

GROSS: Oh, you’re kidding. You know, it absolutely is.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: It’s great.

Mr. APATOW: It’s just you and Pema Chodron are keeping me going.

GROSS: No, I read - and I hope you don’t mind me bringing this up - but, that
you used to get anxiety attacks.

Mr. APATOW: Yes.

GROSS: And what kind of thing would bring them on?

Mr. APATOW: Probably I wasn’t resting and I was working too much. And I was in
a phase of my life where I was experimenting with smoking pot. I wasn’t smoking
that much pot but I was a lightweight. And very quickly I started having
anxiety attacks. And I remember I had a meeting with Lorne Michaels and a panic
attack kicked in hard and I knew that I had to sit and talk to him for over an
hour about a punch-up of a Chris Farley movie I was going to do. And all I
thought of the entire meeting was, if I have to leave the table, I’ll tell them
I just had Pollo Loco and my stomach hurts.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: And I just thought that, okay, its okay. I got the Pollo Loco
excuse. So you know, if I freak out - and my heart would race and I was
sweating and I was completely melting down while pitching my fixes for this
movie. And that happened several times. Until finally, I - one day I couldn’t
get on a plane in Chicago and I had to call my therapist and say, what’s going
on? And he explained what a panic attack was. I just thought I was going crazy.

And I flew a friend in to fly home with me. And over the course of a year, this
is in the mid ‘90s, it went away. But it was pretty terrible, you know, when
you get claustrophobic outside. It was just bad. But I feel like now it was
just body saying, you’ve ignored me and now I’m going to put you on the floor.
I’m going to make you rest. And so whenever I hear about people having those
moments, like Mariah Carey or someone - I know exactly what that moment is.

It’s just pushing yourself too far and there’s a part of your body that says,
okay, you’re done, you’re going to lay down now, and then you’re going to pay
attention to yourself and be healthy and if you don’t, you’re going to lay down
even longer.

GROSS: One of the things that I find really interesting about this is that the
first time you had a panic attack, you had been smoking marijuana. And you
know, maybe it was related. I don’t know. But like in “Pineapple Express,” one
of the movies you produced, it’s about two stoners who, you know, well,
particularly the James Franco character, like he - nothing fazes him.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: He can like smoke 24 hours a day and nothing would faze him. Do you
really admire that ability and wish you had it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: I do(ph). I was always a panic attacker when I smoked pot, the few
times I did it. I’m a terrible drinker.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. APATOW: I’m basically not that fun a person generally. You do not - you
know, at a party, if I’m having any fun at all, if I have even two drinks and
I’m lightening up, Seth’s like, hey, look at Judd, he’s going crazy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: So I’m not a proponent of any of that. Seth and I always argue
about it. I think that what, you know, when we show those things, I’m basically
showing that people who do it are idiots. You know, the people in “Pineapple
Express” - a lot of people die, a lot of people get hurt. It doesn’t really
seem like a great life path. But Seth would disagree.

GROSS: Because your movies are so popular, do you ever wonder what affect they
have on, like, the sensibility of teenagers who see them?

Mr. APATOW: I think that there’s a lot of good that comes out of these movies.
I don’t know if it has a gigantic effect. But I was thinking about it the other
day, when you watch shows like "The Colbert Report” or “The Daily Show,” they
really make fun of homophobia. And so there’s a whole wave in comedy that mocks
people who are not tolerant. And it may feel like it’s just jokes, but
culturally over 10 or 20 years people who are prejudiced, they are the
outcasts. And I think that there are little small cultural changes which have a
larger effect.

My movies are very simple. They’re just about, you know, don’t be a jerk.
That’s basically the theme of all my movies - people trying to figure out how
to live in the correct manner and all the obstacles to that, people trying to
figure out how to love other people, even though they’re neurotic and have
fears. But the basic point is, you know, don’t be a jerk, be a nice person. And
that’s a hard thing to do in this life. It is difficult to be the best version
of yourself. And I think that if people watch all of these movies, you know,
maybe it implants there, in the smallest way, in combination with all sorts of
other things that are positive in the culture.

GROSS: Well, Judd Apatow, it’s really been great to talk with you. Thank you so

Mr. APATOW: Well, it has been a pleasure being here and soon I will be
listening to this while putting myself to sleep.

GROSS: Sweet dreams.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. APATOW: Thank you.

GROSS: Judd Apatow’s movie “Funny People,” starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen
and Leslie Mann, comes out on DVD next week. You can find links to comic videos
featuring the characters from the film on our Web site,, or
you can also download podcasts of our show.
Fresh Air
12:00-13:00 PM
A "New Moon" Destined For A Quick Eclipse


Stephenie Meyers’ four-novel saga beginning with “Twilight” set off a rage for
lovelorn teen vampires that only escalated after the release of the hit movie.
The second film, “New Moon,” set a new record for advance ticket sales. It
brings back Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as Bella and Edward and co-
stars Taylor Lautner as the werewolf Jacob and Dakota Fanning as the littlest,
meanest vampire.

Film critic David Edelstein has a review.

DAVID EDELSTEIN: “New Moon” is a small, rather turgid romantic horror film that
under different circumstances would barely attract notice, yet the hysteria
will turn all screenings for the next week into big events. After seeing
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on every magazine cover, even I, a
skeptical 50-year-old male, felt my heart leap at the pair’s first appearance.
Beyond the frenzy, the movie is endurable - just. I found the last one,
“Twilight,” fun but shallow compared to the momentous adolescent hormonal
feelings flooding Stephenie Meyers’ novel - the idea that Bella’s smell drives
the vampire Edward to distraction, yet he thinks if he acts on his urges he’ll
lose control and rip her to pieces.

It’s an overwrought view of the peril of surrendering to the flesh. In “New
Moon,” director Chris Weitz takes a different tone. He slows everything down.
The unrequited lovers stare longingly at each other and just won’t say their
lines. It’s not so much sex this time as florid "Romeo and Juliet" self-
sacrifice, a comparison pointed up by actual readings from the play.

This is a movie that begins with Bella telling Edward when he says he can’t
risk being with her, if this is about my soul — take it; I don’t want it
without you. Where do you go from there? After Edward leaves her, Bella sits
immobile in a chair as the camera circles around her and the seasons out the
window change. The hook for young girls is the fantasy of men fighting over
them. First, two vampires fight over Bella - one to kill her, the other to save

Then two werewolves fight over her. Then werewolves fight two vampires over
her. Then a vampire fights a whole slew of other vampires over her. Then a
lovesick vampire fights a lovesick werewolf over her. Bella saves Edward,
Edward saves Bella, and the Native American werewolf Jacob, played by Taylor
Lautner, tries to save Bella from Edward. Jacob does make it a kinky triangle.
Whereas Edward is an aesthete with white-marble skin and the highest brow in
movies, Jacob is a dark and hairy biker dude with a very low brow and a
trapezius the size of a watermelon.

His abs and pecs and deltoids are so well defined he looks like a Nautilized
caveman. Bella thinks he has been corrupted by other shirtless Native Americans
and confronts them, but when she slaps one guy, all hell brakes loose.

(Soundbite of movie, “New Moon”)

Ms. KRISTEN STEWART (Actor): (As Bella Swan) What did you do?

Mr. ALEX MERAZ (Actor): (As Paul) Hey.

Ms. STEWART: (As Bella Swan) What did you do to him?

Mr. BRONSON PELLETIER (Actor): (As Jared) Easy.

Ms. STEWART: (As Bella Swan) He didn’t want this.

Mr. MERAZ: (As Paul) What if we do. What did he do? What did he tell you?

Mr. CHASKE SPENCER (Actor): (As Sam Uley) Both of you, calm down.

Ms. STEWART: (As Bella Swan) Nothing. He told me nothing because he’s scared of

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of slap)

Mr. SPENCER: (As Sam Uley) Paul, don’t.

Mr. PELLETIER: (As Jared) Too late now.

Mr. SPENCER: (As Sam Uley) Bella, get back. Paul. Paul, get back now.

(Soundbite of roar)

Mr. SPENCER: (As Sam Uley) Bella!

Ms. STEWART: (As Bella Swan) (Unintelligible)

EDELSTEIN: All that snarling came after the guy she slapped turned into a wolf
the size of a bear and went after her. But in the end, werewolves are
protectors of humans. “New Moon"’s real villains are the Volturi, a regal
murderous body of vampire lawmakers Edward travels to see, led by Michael Sheen
with bulging eyes and a giggly voice that recalls Tiny Tim. The Volturi
sequence takes place in an impressive rotunda in a medieval Italian hill town.
But it still feels B-movie cheesy.

The best part is Dakota Fanning with blazing red eyes as some kind of psychic
executioner. She is growing up nicely. Robert Pattinson is better in gorgeous
repose than when he speaks, but since most of his performance is posing, that
barely matters. Kristen Stewart is, as always, lovely and believable — and with
her long white face and too-big front teeth, she looks like she’d fit right in
with the vampires. The movie has a few good flourishes, like the werewolves’
whooshy, syncopated, overhead chase of an evil red-haired vampire woman toward
the cliffs.

But Weitz’s compositions have no spark and his pacing is so slow you’re going
to need to watch it with the electricity generated by a live first-weekend
audience to stay charged up.

So line up now, before “New Moon” goes into permanent eclipse.

GROSS: David Edelstein is film critic for New York magazine. You can download
podcasts of our show on our Web site,, and you can follow us
on twitter at nprfreshair.

Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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