KNOCKED UP – interviews with Judd Apatow & Seth Rogan
GETTING A FILM KNOCKED UP
Writer/director Judd Apatow and star Seth Rogen visited Sydney to promote their
latest comedy, Knocked Up, which has notched up a healthy opening box office in
the US, and some rave reviews. They talk to Andrew L. Urban about the film (not
too seriously) and how it was born.
Comedy is obstacles … the failures and struggles of ordinary people trying to do
something, go somewhere … and terrible things standing in their way, says Judd
Apatow, replying to a silly question to begin our interview; I asked “where does
comedy come from?” and instead of getting out of his comfy hotel chair and
socking me in the eye with an apple from the complimentary fruit tray, he tried
to define it. He soon gave up in resignation. “I’m not very good talking about
it…I wish I were…I saw John Cleese do an interview with Alan Alda and he knew
everything about the psychology of comedy . . . ”
The film’s remarkably observant, honest and pain-filled script elevates Knocked
Up from being just another gross out comedy to high grossing entertainment,
popular as well as cutting. Cutting because Judd Apatow’s dialogue is so often
devastatingly real as to draw blood; but that’s also what makes it so funny.
That, plus Seth Rogan’s ugly duckling Ben, flabby and insecure, vulgar yet
suddenly sweet as a puppy; these elements take the film into a broader market
than its surface credentials would suggest.
"a loud serrated laugh that shudders like a tractor"
Seth Rogan, looking exactly as he does in the film, bursts out laughing, a
loud serrated laugh that shudders like a tractor going from first to second gear
without a clutch. They are seated in front of a poster for Knocked Up, in case
visiting media forget the film they’re supposed to write about. Behind me, a
Manly ferry farts as it edges into Circular Quay.
Soon we’re talking about the process of making comedy. It’s harder than drama,
isn’t it? Well, no. Judd seems unsure about that. “I haven’t really done any
drama …” He did The 40 Year Old Virgin, and he didn’t find it hard. Nor Knocked
Seth laughs again and my Sony MiniDisc jumps. “I don’t know … “ He is also a
natural comedian. The idea for Knocked Up began with a conversation between Judd
and Seth, and had its seed in the moment that Judd’s wife announced she was
pregnant. “I felt amazing – and I wondered how it would feel it I had only known
her for one day!”
Jealously guarding his turf, Judd went off to write a draft, without his
filmmaking collaborators. They came in later. “I wanted to keep it personal,” he
says, “not a communal effort.” Judd had a choice at the time: he could have
accepted a gig to direct a big budget movie, or to make another $40-odd million
comedy (like 40 Year Old Virgin). He was expected to make the bigger film, but
chose to see if lightning would strike twice in his cinematic career. As it
happens, Knocked Up is not only a better film, but more surprisingly, a bigger
hit. (Surprising only because creative quality and box office success are not
always glued together.)
"it’s better to stick to your strengths"
The two laugh. “If you make a $40 million movie and it takes $60 million,
you’re OK. It helps your career. But if you make a $80 million movie and it
takes $40 million …” Seth interrupts: “Then I’m f***ed!” So it’s better to stick
to your strengths.
Seth says Judd’s directing style varies from suggesting different lines, to
suggesting new ways of saying them. But in the end, Judd is boss. The terms of
working with him are that he shoots what he wants, then he shoots what the
actors wants (if it’s different) and then Judd goes into the edit and decides
which to use. He’s the dictator.
Published July 5, 2007
Email this article
Judd Apatow & Seth Rogan
HEAR ANDREW'S ENTIRE (UNCENSORED) INTERVIEW WITH JUDD & SETH (approx 13 minutes)
Directed by Judd Apatow
Unemployed bum Ben Stone (Seth Rogan) shares a shambolic house with some
friends, smoking dope and wasting time, cracking rude jokes. On a night out, Ben
gets lucky when he bumps into Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) who is getting very
drunk celebrating her promotion to an on-camera presenting gig at E!. Their
intoxicated, impromptu and unlikely one night stand results in Alison getting
knocked up, which throws a spanner in their respective lives.
The mismatched duo
try to work things out with the of best intentions, amidst not always helpful
help from their family - Alison’s stressful older sister Debbie (Leslie Mann)
and her quietly desperate husband Pete (Paul Rudd) – and Ben’s lazy yet well
meaning and loopy friends (Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Martin
Starr). As the time for the baby gets closer, tensions lead to quarrels, a trip
to Las Vegas and confrontations between Ben and Alison. It just can’t last ...