If there is an “it” comedian right now, it is Amy Schumer. From roasting Charlie Sheen, to her hit comedy series Inside Amy Schumer (the third season is now underway), to hosting the MTV Movie Awards, this balls-to-the-wall comedian hasn’t pulled any punches. Now, she is ready to take on Hollywood in a not-too-loosely-based on real life comedy Trainwreck, which hits theaters on July 17th. This big studio comedy will determine whether or not Schumer can successfully make the leap from television to movie star. Her biggest asset in this feat is not her ability to make you feel uncomfortable and laugh at the same time. No, it is having Judd Apatow direct and produce her first feature film.
While on the set of Trainwreck, Collider had the opportunity to sit down chat with Schumer. The scene we witnessed, her sister’s baby shower, revealed just how out of place “Amy” is in the world of polite society. We pulled Amy from a fine living room to the pink world of a teenage girl’s bedroom for our little interview. Like a teenager who has it all figured out, the rising star was ready to dive into what lead her from a hard working stand-up comedian turned television star to a relaxing movie star.
Question: From the scene we just witnessed, it seems as if Trainwreck is continuing with your stand-up and Comedy Central serieswhere you, “Amy” is dealing with everyone around you having kids and you are dealing with the complications of fitting in.
AMY SCHUMER: Well this scene is actually taken from my stand-up, from my hour special. You know with comics, they don’t like it when you repeat jokes. There is this misconception that it’s always the first time you’re saying it. How do you think of this? So sometimes people come up to you and say, “I already heard that” and they feel let down. This joke, this scene, people will yell out that they want to hear it. People on Twitter will write, “why didn’t you tell the Connecticut friend story?” This scene we decided to add later on, so it’s fun to live out. This scene is a very good example of a big theme in the movie. Everyone’s life around me has taken them in one direction and mine has gone in another one. A lot of it is me beating myself up, why I am different. There are also some judgements in the way that they experience me. This is not that far of a stretch of reality, this scene.
Is it hard putting together a feature film when you are used to doing shorts and skits? Is harder to fit a whole story in and not make it a bunch of bits?
SCHUMER: I don’t think I would have had the confidence to try and do it, but Judd really encouraged me and made me feel as if it was possible. I kept it real small in my mind, though, so I would think a scene at a time, beat out the scenes, and think of it as the TV show. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot more relaxing. I just get to play this one character instead of shooting four scenes in a day where I play all sorts of different weirdos. Because this story is close to my heart and a lot of it being very important to me, it was a challenge, but it felt pretty organic.
How long did it take you to write the script?
SCHUMER: This script I wrote over the course of a month and a half, the initial draft. That is working with Judd over two years, talking about it, finally landing on the idea, and then spewing it out. Since last July , we’ve been working and modifying it. It’s been evolving the whole time.
What can you tell us about the story?
SCHUMER: The story is about a girl whose behavior is catching up with her. Things aren’t cute anymore. Her defense mechanisms that have guided her along the whole time are finally catching up with her. I say that and that doesn’t sound very funny.
Anyone who has seen your stand-up or Inside Amy Schumer will get that.
SCHUMER: (laughs) Thank you.
How is Trainwreck similar and different from what we know about you already?
SCHUMER: If people have seen my TV show and watch the interviews, the segment called “Amy Goes Deep”, when I just talk to somebody, that’s me. That’s myself speaking to somebody. I think people know me a little bit who watch that. I would say that the film is a hybrid of everything you see on the show. I think everybody is partially trainwrecked. I’m just willing to share that with everybody. I think it is a way more vulnerable side of me than people have seen on the TV show.
To that point, can you tell us about why you decided to call yourself Amy in the movie?
SCHUMER: That is straight up laziness and no one ever changing it. Like my dad in the movie is Gordon (played by Colin Quinn), and in real life is Gordon. He was wondering if it was gong to be Gordon, “it’s going to be Gordon, right?”. He wanted it to be his name. It kind of throws me a little bit in movies when it’s someone from comedy and you know them and every time you hear their name you are almost taken out of it. “You’re name is not Rebecca”. For some reason it throws me in movies. Yeah, but really it’s laziness.
Did Judd approach you to direct that movie? He hasn’t really directed anyone else’s scripts, he has always directed his own. It feels, as we were watching the scene, that things were changing in each take.
SCHUMER: When we were auditioning people, they would come in and audition with me. Some of them, we just treated as work sessions. So he was kind of directing us in the auditions. I’m thinking, he’s feeling out what it would be like to direct this. Not getting my hopes up! It was one of the last days of filming for my TV show and he called. I could feel like it was an important phone call so I stepped outside and the AD [assistant director] looked at me like, “are you out of your fucking mind?”. I need five minutes. He was like “I’m going to slap you” and I was “no”. Judd said, “I would like to throw my hat in the ring to direct this.” I was like, “I had my eye on a couple of others.” I felt all the blood rush to my head and I was like, “don’t cry all your make-up off cause the AD is already going to beat you up”. I remember being honest with him trying to play it cool, but this was a very big fucking deal, so don’t think that I don’t know this. I had a little hope that maybe that would happen, but it was not something that was really on the table.
What’s the biggest difference you have seen in Judd the producer and Judd the director?
SCHUMER: He’s thinking about reshoots and what’s going to work when we edit, and then he is directing. It seems as if you’re getting all this in one package. I definitely like that he is on set and wearing both of those hats. He makes me feel very protective and relaxed that I don’t have to think about that stuff, cause I don’t know about it.
During shooting, we noticed that there were a lot of lengthy takes allowing you to explore the space and do some cool improv. Is that something you do on Inside Amy Schumer? If not, how do you like that sort of freedom to do that?
SCHUMER: Definitely, we do not do that on the show, because we have no money and we have to shoot four scenes in a day. This will allow us to stretch it out. You feel very protective like you are going to get what you need to get and have a ton of options in the editing room. I love this, this feels like a vacation to be on this set. This way of working feels way more relaxed. On the show I’m used to punching up the script. We know what everyone is going to say and we know that everyone is going to hit the beats of the scene. There I know if we got the scene. Here this feels way more spread out to me, because I’ve never gone through this process before. I don’t know what the scenes are going to wind up being, exactly.
Do you prefer the television model over the feature film?
SCHUMER: I really like doing both. This is real nice, though.
On the TV show you have a lot of great guest stars, yet for Trainwreck? There is not a word to describe your cast yet. Tilda Swinton and LeBron James in the same movie?
SCHUMER: You know when you hear the cast for a movie or you see the cover for a DVD and go ”What?”. “No”, your brain is like “No”. I don’t know how people will experience that, but it is really funny that there is a scene with Tilda Swinton and Method Man. I wrote this script in a manipulative way hoping that Judd would want to make it. I tried to be really resourceful. I really wanted LeBron to do it, of course, so I am reading articles on him and seeing what I could put into the script that would make him more interested in playing it; down to describing the Tom Ford suits he was going to wear. I wrote a dream script that I thought that there wasn’t enough money for this in the world. Then it’s like LeBron said yes. So a Tilda Swinton type? “No, she is going to do it”. What? Then Method Man and then Ezra Miller, too? Everybody who was in my dream is in it.
What does “Amy” do in the movie?
SCHUMER: I’m a writer for a men’s magazine. I couldn’t resist.
When it came to casting the female roles in this film, in particular the baby shower scene, what was important to you about their casting?
SCHUMER: I have a lot of hilarious women that I am close to. I wanted to write them roles that I thought would best showcase what they can do. In this scene, I am the monster and they are being real tame, but the other scenes we have shot with them, I need to do my best to facilitate them showcasing how hilarious they are. I was really writing trying to find their specific voice rather than try and fit them into an idea.
Will you be permitted into the editing room with Judd?
SCHUMER: As much as I am permitted. It is so important to me that the specific voice of this character is heard and not misrepresented. I think people get it wrong a lot. No one is going to know this girl better than I do. He knows how important it is to me and it is to him. He likes to have a lot of options, but preserving this story and this point of view is important to both of us. Judd has made me feel very much like he wants my specific voice to be heard.