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Aging and Parenting with Judd Apatow

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012

Updated: Friday, January 4, 2013 05:01

E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune, MCT

Spouses Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow based their movie "This Is 40" on real-life experiences. They are shown in Chicago, Illinois, on November 26, 2012.

Writer, director and producer Judd Apatow is a self-proclaimed workaholic but as he sits in a hotel suite in Phoenix, he seems exceptionally relaxed. Apatow dresses casually, rocks a scruffy, grey-speckled beard and has a bright yellow bunny iPhone case in front of him. He says for once he doesn’t have another project to jump into just yet, so he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor.

His latest film, “This Is 40,” is a bit of a cautionary tale of what comes happily ever after. Fairy tales usually stop after a perfect wedding, but what about the marriage? Apatow explores what it’s like for two individuals to share a life together, have children and manage their daily lives.

The film stars Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, who are reprising their roles as Pete and Debbie from the 2007 film “Knocked Up.” Mann is Apatow’s real life wife and their children, Maude and Iris, also star in the film. The film follows the ups and downs of modern parenting with plenty of honesty and humor.


College Times: This movie is about marriage, so younger audiences will probably have a different take on it.

Judd Apatow:You can laugh at your parents. When we tested the movie younger people liked it even more than people who were 40 because they have some distance from it and they can laugh at their parents’ pain. There’s younger characters in it like Lena Dunham and Jason Segel and Megan Fox. The movie does cover a lot of different ages. There are people who are 13 and in their 20s and 40s and in their 60s. Even though it says “This Is 40,” it is about everybody. I thought it was just a weird movie about us but it turns out everyone feels like it reflects their lives. It was universal in a way I didn’t expect. [It] turns out the world is as weird as us.


How does turning 30 differ from turning 40?

I think 30 is a bigger deal than 40, for me. Because when you’re in your 20s you think you’re supposed to experiment and go crazy and have sex and do drugs and go to Europe. That’s supposed to be the free time of your life. That’s a little bit what [the HBO show] “Girls” is about, feeling that you’re supposed to take chances. When you turn 30 you feel like, “Oh, I guess I’m supposed to settle down and calm down now.” I got depressed when I turned 30. I thought I didn’t have any fun. I was working really hard and being very responsible. I didn’t have a mad period.


Were your 30s your wild years?

No! I had a baby. We had our first child when I was 30 so I never went nuts. I never really wanted to go nuts. I go on this promotional tour and every night we do a Q-and-A and then it’s over at about 10 o’clock and I just go right to sleep [laughs]. I never think, “Hey! I’m by myself in Phoenix I’m gonna go to a bar!” I’m asleep in five minutes.


The next milestone is 50 –

I’m halfway there. I turn 45 next week. I have nothing planned. My family is very bad at preparing, too. They never get organized and surprise me with anything great. They’re a terrible birthday family.


Fathers always kind of get left behind.

They do. That’s true. That’s what they say. You have kind of a nervous breakdown when you have kids as a man because you instantly go from king of the castle to number four. [laughs]


Do you think your daughters will want to be actors now that they’ve been in your movies?

I don’t know. I think they could be if they chose to. I always encourage them to have a lot of skills. Maude blogs; she interviews people on the internet, she interviewed One Direction for Teen Vogue and she has almost 100,000 Twitter followers. She’s really funny and she has this feed where she just talks about what’s going on in her life and it’s gotten ridiculously popular. She’s actually in Teen Vogue this month (November). It was the only thing we let her do for the movie. We didn’t want her to do a lot of publicity. We said she could do one thing and that was her dream.

I think if you can write and act and be creative in a lot of different ways then you have some flexibility to control your career. If you’re just an actress waiting to get a job it’s very painful because you don’t want other people determine what you do. I always tell her, “You’ve got to learn how to write a movie or else you’re just waiting to get a job.” Who knows? Maybe she’ll want to be a dentist. I don’t’ want to lead them to something that they ultimately won’t want to do.


What were you like at their age? You didn’t have a smartphone or iPad.

Yeah, I don’t think we even had an answering machine. [laughs] That’s how long ago it was. There was no internet unless you were at the Pentagon. I was obsessed with getting into comedy. I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. I had a job as a dish washer at a comedy club when I was 15 years old just so I could watch. I always knew what I wanted to do so I was preparing myself to be able to pull it off. I was obsessive about it.

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