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Apatow, Mann & Rudd Tell NYT 'This Is 40': 'Couples Therapy Viewed By Millions of People in Theaters Across the World'

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood November 20, 2012 at 2:24PM

David Itzkoff of the NY Times paid a summer visit to Judd Apatow on the Brentwood-mansion set of "This Is 40," the director's holiday-slated mid-life-crisis comedy following the marriage of Pete and Debbie of "Knocked Up." Apatow, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd talk insecurity, "perfect" onscreen married couples and filmmaking as relationship therapy.
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"This Is 40"
"This Is 40"

David Itzkoff of the NY Times paid a summer visit to Judd Apatow on the Brentwood-mansion set of "This Is 40," the director's holiday-slated mid-life-crisis comedy following the marriage of Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) of "Knocked Up." Apatow, Mann and Rudd talk insecurity, "perfect" onscreen married couples and filmmaking as relationship therapy. Highlights from the interview below.

"This Is 40" hits theaters December 21.

Apatow on audience-reception insecurity:

“There’s nothing worse than spilling your guts and having people hate it,” he said with a sardonic chuckle. “ ‘Oh, that’s your world? Wow, I don’t like the movie or you.’”

As he explained his thinking behind “This Is 40"... he said: “Here’s my family, here’s my marriage, here’s my job. Are we happy with where we’re at? Can we make it better?”

Mann on the annoying portrayal of married couples in films:

“I’m so sick of seeing these movies where married couples are just cuddling on the couch and caressing each other’s faces,” she said, adding, with a laugh, “I’m like, ‘Maybe it does happen, and maybe there’s something wrong with us.’” (“I want to cuddle you for the rest of this interview,” Mr. Apatow told her.)

The script and filmmaking process as marriage therapy:

As [the] screenplay developed... it incorporated experiences [Apatow] and Ms. Mann have dealt with — say, his sneaking off to the bathroom to play games on his iPad — and comic exaggerations of true circumstances; other personal issues were deliberately omitted. “I have vague memories of not wanting to talk about certain things,” Ms. Mann said to Mr. Apatow, “like your things.” He replied, “Well, don’t talk about them here.”

Mr. Rudd was also invited to participate in conversations and videotaped improvisations, as was his wife, Julie. He said he did not mind involving his spouse (who is not a performer) and found it therapeutic. “It seems like you’re having some sort of couples’ therapy, but it’s viewed by millions of people in movie theaters across the world,” Mr. Rudd said.

This article is related to: News, News, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Judd Apatow, This Is 40


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.