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Judd Apatow (born December, 1967) is an Americanmarker film producer, director, and screenwriter. He is well-known for making a distinct series of critically and commercially successful comedy films, including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People. He has also produced films such as Superbad, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Step Brothers and Pineapple Express. He is the founder of Apatow Productions, a film production company that also developed the critically acclaimed cult television series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared.

Early life

Apatow was born in Flushing, New York to a Jewish family, and raised in Syosset, New Yorkmarker. His sense of humor provided access to friends while growing up. Obsessed with comedy, his childhood hero was Steve Martin. He has an older brother Robert and a younger sister Mia; his father was a real estate developer, and his mother worked at a comedy club in Southamptonmarker.

Apatow's parents divorced when he was 12 years old. His brother Robert went to live with their grandparents whilst sister Mia moved in with their mother. Apatow went to live with his father, visiting his mother on weekends. Both parents understood and supported his obsession with comedy. Apatow got his comic start while attending Syosset High Schoolmarker, where he hosted a program called Club Comedy on the school's 10-watt radio station WKWZmarker. He relied on his mother's contacts at the comedy club to gain access to the comedians; during this time, he managed to interview Steve Allen, Howard Stern, Harold Ramis and John Candy, along with then-unknowns Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright and Garry Shandling.


Early career

Apatow began performing stand-up comedy at age 17, during his senior year of high school. In the September 1985 issue of Laugh Factory Magazine, he is listed as an Associate Editor. After graduating from high school in 1985, he moved to Los Angelesmarker and enrolled in the screenwriting program at University of Southern Californiamarker. While at USC he organized and hosted a number of on-campus "Comedy Night" events featuring headliners such as Saturday Night Live performer Kevin Nealon. Apatow introduced the acts at these events with short standup routines of his own. Apatow appeared in the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search produced by director/cinematographer Neal Marshad in 1989. He also began volunteering at Comic Relief and introducing comedians at the Improv. Apatow dropped out of USC after two years and moved into an apartment with comedian Adam Sandler, whom he met at the Improv. He also continued performing standup comedy; and he admits that although his act was well-written, he was unable to develop his own unique comedic personality.

After finding little success as a performer himself, Apatow began writing jokes for others including up-and-coming star Roseanne Barr. He appeared on HBO's 15th Annual Young Comedians Special in 1992. In 1990, Apatow met Ben Stiller outside of an Elvis Costello show, and they became friends. In 1992, Apatow produced The Ben Stiller Show for Fox. Although the show was critically acclaimed and earned Apatow and the rest of the writing staff an Emmy Award, Fox canceled the show in 1993. In 1994, Apatow served as consulting producer and staff writer for the animated comedy The Critic, starring Jon Lovitz.

Apatow's manager, Jimmy Miller, introduced him to comedian Garry Shandling, who hired Apatow as a writer and producer for The Larry Sanders Show in 1993. Apatow worked on the show for five years until the show's end in 1998. Apatow credits Garry Shandling as his mentor for influencing him to write comedy that is more character-driven. Apatow earned six Emmy nominations for his work on Larry Sanders.

Apatow was hired to re-write the script for the movie The Cable Guy, which was released in 1996. He expected the film to be a huge success, but it ultimately had a mediocre box office success and poor reviews. It was during the shooting of the film, however, that Apatow met his wife, actress Leslie Mann.

Apatow's next script was entitled Making Amends and had Owen Wilson attached as a man in Alcoholics Anonymous who decides to apologize to everyone he has ever hurt. However, the film was never made. Apatow did an uncredited rewrite of the 1998 Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer.

From 1999 to 2002, he produced the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. Both shows received critical acclaim but were canceled after a season because of low ratings; USA Today media critic Susan Wloszczyna called the shows "two of the most acclaimed TV series to ever last only one season".

He additionally wrote and produced 3 TV pilots that were never aired: "North Hollywood", "Sick in the Head" and "Life on Parole" (with Brent Forrester). Apatow has screened and introduced them at "The Other Network", a festival of un-aired TV pilots produced by Un-Cabaret.

He has previously vowed to include a penis in every one of his movies.


In 2004, Apatow produced the hit comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, starring Will Ferrell and directed by Adam McKay, making his first major comedy hit after a string of critically acclaimed, relatively obscure shows. In 2005, he directed and co-wrote the comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell, which was nominated for best original screenplay by the Writers Guild of America. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was a sleeper hit, grossing $177,378,645 worldwide and making many critics' Top 10 lists for the year. His film Knocked Up was released in June 2007 to wide critical acclaim. Apatow wrote the initial draft of the film on the set of Talladega Nights. In addition to being a critical success, the film was also a commercial hit, continuing Apatow's newfound mainstream success.

In August 2007, Apatow produced the film Superbad, which was written by Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg. A concept Rogen and Goldberg had created as teens, Apatow convinced Rogen to write the film as a vehicle for himself in 2000. Rogen and Goldberg finished writing the film, but were unable to find a studio interested in producing it. Apatow then enlisted Rogen and Goldberg to write Pineapple Express, a stoner action movie that he felt would be more commercial. After the success of Anchorman and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Apatow was still unable to sell both Superbad and Pineapple Express; it was only after he produced the commercial hit Talladega Nights that Sony Pictures Entertainment decided to produce both. At this point, Rogen was unable to play the lead for Superbad, as he had grown too old to play the part of Seth. Subsequently, he was cast in a supporting role as a police officer and friend Jonah Hill took his role as the high school student. Apatow credits Rogen for influencing him to make his work more "outrageously dirty." In August 2007, Superbad opened at #1 in the box office to critical acclaim, taking in $33 million in its opening weekend. Industry insiders claimed Apatow was now a brand unto himself, creating movies geared toward older audiences, who would watch his movies even when the films delved into the teen genre.

Discussing the balance his films strike between R-rated vulgarity and a more wholesome sentimentality, Apatow explained his position as, "I like movies that are, you know, uplifting and hopeful...and I like filth!"

He has helped to foster the acting careers of Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Jason Segel, and also tends to work with his close friends. He has frequently worked with producer Shauna Robertson, whom he met on the set of Elf. He reunited with Jason Segel and Amy Poehler for the 2001 Fox sitcom pilot, North Hollywood. He tries to keep a low budget on his projects and usually makes his movies about the work itself rather than using big stars. After his success in film, he hired the entire writing staff from Undeclared to write movies for Apatow Productions. He never fires writers and he keeps them on projects through all stages of productions. Apatow is not committed to any specific studio, but his projects are typically set up at Universal and Sony.


Apatow served as producer and writer for the musician biopic spoof Walk Hard starring John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer, which was released in December 2007. While the film received positive reviews, it was a commercial failure, having only made back half of its budget. More recently, he served as producer for Drillbit Taylor starring Owen Wilson and his wife Leslie Mann and written by Seth Rogen, which opened in March 2008 to mostly negative reviews. For the rest of 2008, he produced the films Forgetting Sarah Marshall starring former Freaks and Geeks star Jason Segel and former Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell; Step Brothers, which reunites Talladega Nights co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly; and Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, both of whom starred on Freaks and Geeks. In addition, he served as co-writer for the Adam Sandler starrer You Don't Mess with the Zohan, which Sandler and Robert Smigel also co-wrote.

Apatow served as producer for the Harold Ramis-directed biblical comedy Year One, starring Jack Black and Superbad star Michael Cera, which was released June 19, 2009 to negative reviews. He released his third directorial feature on July 31 that same year, titled Funny People. He wrote the film by himself, and it starred Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen as a pair of standup comedians, one of whom has a terminal illness. Other co-stars included his wife Leslie Mann and Eric Bana, who was a stand up comedian in Australia before appearing in American films. The film contained more dramatic elements than Apatow's previous directorial efforts.

New York Magazine noted that [former Apatow associate] Mike White ... was "disenchanted" by Apatow's later films, "objecting to the treatment of women and gay men in Apatow's recent movies", saying of Knocked Up, "At some point it starts feeling like comedy of the bullies, rather than the bullied."

Apatow has claimed to strive to avoid marginalizing women in his work and to develop authentic female characters. Following many of these accusations, in a highly publicized Vanity Fair interview, lead actress Katherine Heigl admitted that though she enjoyed working with Apatow, she had a hard time enjoying Knocked Up itself, calling the movie, "a little sexist," claiming that the film "paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight." In response to accusations of sexism, Apatow did not initially deny the validity of such accusations, saying flippantly, "I'm just shocked she [Heigl] used the word 'shrew.' I mean, what is this, the sixteen-hundreds?"

Upcoming films

He will serve as producer on the Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off Get Me to the Gig, in which Russell Brand will reprise his role as notorious British rocker Aldous Snow. Jonah Hill will also star and filming begins in August 2009. Apatow will also provide the voice of an elephant in Kevin James' The Zookeeper, where Adam Sandler is also voicing an animal.

It was recently announced that Apatow is producing a yet-untitled comedy based around Sherlock Holmes and his partner Watson, which was written by Etan Cohen. Sacha Baron Cohen will play Holmes while Will Ferrell is set to play Watson. He is reportedly producing an upcoming musical comedy with internet comedian Bo Burnham. Five Year Engagement is an upcoming comedy starring Jason Segel and directed by Nicholas Stoller. It is about a couple and their rocky five year engagement. It is reported that Bill Hader will be writing and starring in an upcoming horror/comedy film. He says it will be a mixture of Halloween, Home Alone, The Monster Squad and Straw Dogs. He recently signed a deal with Aziz Ansari and Jason Woliner to produce three of their films. The first, tentatively titled Let’s Do This, is “a road movie about two guys who work for a motivational speaking company.” The second stars Ansari as a disgraced cosmonaut who’s forced to return to space. The third apparently came out of Ansari’s role in Funny People.

Personal life

He admires filmmakers James L. Brooks, Hal Ashby, Robert Altman and John Cassavetes. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rejected his application for membership, even though he was sponsored by Academy Award-winning screenwriters Akiva Goldsman and Stephen Gaghan. Apatow became a member in 2008. He married actress Leslie Mann, whom he met on the set of The Cable Guy and who has appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Drillbit Taylor, and Funny People. The couple have two daughters, Maude and Iris. Both girls appeared in Knocked Up and Funny People. He currently resides in Los Angeles, Californiamarker with his family.

Recurring collaborators

Apatow frequently collaborates with the same cast and crew in his projects. To date, Seth Rogen has been involved with 11 of Apatow's projects, as an actor, writer, and/or producer. His wife Leslie Mann has starred in 5, Will Ferrell has starred in 5, Paul Rudd has starred in 7, Jonah Hill has starred in 7, and Jason Segel has starred in 4 (as well as written one). Adam McKay has directed and/or written for 4 of his projects.



Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Writer
1992 Crossing the Bridge
1995 Heavyweights
1996 Celtic Pride
The Cable Guy
2004 Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie
2005 Kicking & Screaming
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Fun with Dick and Jane
2006 The TV Set
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
2007 Knocked Up
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
2008 Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Drillbit Taylor
You Don't Mess with the Zohan
Step Brothers
Pineapple Express
2009 Year One
Funny People
2010 Get Me to the Gig (Post-Production)

Other films

Year Title Notes
2006 American Storage Executive producer (short film)
2010 The Zookeeper Voice


Year Title Notes
1992-1993 The Ben Stiller Show Co-creator, writer, executive producer
1993-1998 The Larry Sanders Show Director, writer, co-executive producer, consulting producer
1994-1995 The Critic Writer, consulting producer
1999-2000 Freaks and Geeks Director, writer, executive producer
2001-2002 Undeclared Creator, director, writer, executive producer


  2. Minton, Jeff. " Judd Apatow's Family Values", New York Times, 2007-05-27. Retrieved on June 4, 2007.
  3. Notable Alumni, USC School of Cinematic Arts.
  4. Abramowitz, Rachel. " Judd Apatow, the mayor of comedy", The LA Times, 2007-05-13. Retrieved on June 4, 2007.
  5. Thompson, Anne. " Hot Apatow new king of comedy", Variety, 2007-05-11. Retrieved on June 4, 2007.
  6. Wloszczyna, Susan. " For Apatow, opportunity knocks," USA Today, 2007-05-06. Retrieved on June 4, 2007.
  7. Judd Apatow Recruits YouTube Star Bo Burnham for Musical Comedy
  8. Apatow sets 'Five-Year Engagement'
  9. Bill Hader and Judd Apatow Turning Next to The Horror Genre?

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