Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann Interviewed – KNOCKED UP

     May 24, 2007

Leslie Mann is Judd Apatow’s wife. She’s a talented actress, the mother of his children, and the one that gave permission to let their kids play her character’s children in “Knocked Up.”

Paul Rudd is one of those guys that everyone seems to love. Men like his work in “Anchorman” and “40 Year-Old Virgin”… but to be honest, it’s really about the women. After the movie “Clueless” I don’t know one woman who wouldn’t marry Paul. I’m serious when I say I had girlfriends who wanted to tag along to this interview just to see Paul in person.

In the movie Leslie and Paul play a married couple who have the kids, a house in the suburbs, and all the problems that go with it. Living in the same house is Alison, Debbie’s (Leslie Mann) sister, and she’s played by Katherine Heigl.

After Alison gets pregnant from a one night stand, she’s torn between trying to make something work with the father (Seth Rogen) and also scared by what she sees everyday – a relationship that has plenty of problems. While she wants the family, she’s unsure if the relationship can last.

One of the reasons the film works so well is how real the characters are. Both Leslie and Paul play people that aren’t evil, mean, or bad. They’re both trying to figure out who they are, what they want, and how to make a marriage and relationship work when it’s hard to get any “me” time. While Hollywood tends to glamorize the big problems in any relationship, they never seem to focus on the issues that most people deal with on an everyday basis.

And that’s why Judd Apatow makes such good movies and TV shows.

He finds serious subject matter and infuses it with humor and heart. That’s why “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” were so great, and it’s also the reason “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and now “Knocked Up” work so well.

The below transcript was from a press conference from last week. As always you can download the audio of this interview here. It’s an MP3 and easily put on a portable player like an iPod or a CD for listening in your car.

“Knocked Up” opens June 1st and you’ll definitely want to check it out.

Question: Leslie, did you have any trepidation about putting your kids in the movie?

Leslie Mann: I did. I didn’t want to put them in the movie, but Judd, he thought that it was a good idea. Time passed by, and I was saying no, no. no, and then I’m like — I dunno, maybe. And then it was like a week before and he said, you have to tell me now. He would ask me when I was really busy, so I couldn’t really focus on it and then it ended up just happening. But it’s okay. . .

What did you tell them about the movie?

Leslie Mann: Ah — anything about the movie? Ah you know they just — what did we say to Maude? She was just so good. I’m trying to think of what we said to her. (To Paul): Were you there? We just told her she would need to talk about how babies were born. You know, that’s as much as we told her, and then she improvised that, right.

Paul Rudd: Yeah, yeah. She was sitting at the table and came up with several different explanations.

Leslie Mann: That was all her. She’s very comfortable, improvising. We had three cameras on her, people standing all around her, and she was so comfortable and really funny — and good. So it worked out. So far.

We know both of you are great improvisers. How challenging was it to try and improvise while at the same time maintaining your characters in this relationship?

Paul Rudd: I don’t know. We improvised a lot of arguments (both he and Mann laugh). At first it was kind of startling because Leslie’s so good I thought she hated me after the first scene that we did, which —

Leslie Mann: I kinda did —

Paul Rudd: Yeah. In the restaurant. Right?

Leslie Mann: I did. A little bit.

Paul Rudd: You said ‘you fight so much differently — much more different — from the way Judd fights.’ I’d make a joke — yeah — and that’s not a good thing to do when you’re fighting with your wife to —

Leslie Mann: Make light of it — try to get out of it…

Paul Rudd: Make light of it. It seems if that was a funny way to go, but it did make me feel really weird the next day. I remember you came up to me the next day too because you heard — ‘I think Leslie really like hates me’ (Leslie laughs) — We even knew each other too before —

Leslie Mann: I just think it was really fun. It was fun to kinda heighten — torque it a little bit and make it even crazier. Like take a normal fight that you have in your marriage and then just make it really big for fun.

Paul Rudd: And then just to know what to say to provoke somebody is really fun to do. It’s fun to do in life, but you can’t really do it in life without fearing the repercussions, but we — that was kind of why we were playing parts to do that. The first day, I think, the first scene that you and I filmed together was — we were in the bathroom together and just kind of talking about what out lives, you know, just about sex… do you want to have sex? And we probably should — it was really hard not to laugh because I think was the first thing. I asked Leslie if she wanted to have sex and you just went (makes ugh sound). It’s always hard not to laugh when you’re doing these scenes when somebody says something really funny.

Leslie, you kind of have to represent the female dynamics in this male movie…was it hard?

Leslie Mann: You know, one day, at the end of shooting the movie, I was stuck in the hospital room, in the waiting room area, with all of the boys during the birth scene, and I was so disgusted by — all they talk about is like porn sites — it’s real — the way they talk in the movie, that’s how they talk. And I had to sit there all day with them and (to Paul) you. And he knows all about that stuff too, and I just had to sit there and listen to them talk the dirty — you know, DIRTY stuff. Like you just don’t hear that I’d never heard about. (To Paul) You remember any examples?

Paul Rudd: No, I don’t remember any…

Leslie Mann: The site . . . you know what I’m talking about don’t you?

Paul Rudd: Which site in particular?

Leslie Mann: You know what — there was one that I remember being really shocked by —

Paul Rudd: Of different sexual terms?

Leslie Mann: Not the terms. They were like websites. With dirty…

Paul Rudd: Oh yeah. I do know the one you’re talking about. Yeah. (Leslie laughs) (Rudd laughs) I probably shouldn’t — it ended .org which also was one of the funniest parts. It seemed like it was kind of . . . an educational facility, but it wasn’t.

Leslie Mann: I thought that I had heard

Paul Rudd: Well, Jonah had a picture of it on his phone too. He was like — that’s what it is.

Leslie Mann: I thought that I had been around all these guys. They don’t — for some reason, they felt very loose and comfortable with me, or they forgot that I was there and they just talked like they normally talked. And it was really disgusting. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Dirty, dirty boys. They really are.

Paul Rudd: And they were all like 7 or 8 years younger than me. I was really like the oldest guy which was even more sad, really.

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Can you talk about the dynamic of working with Judd?

Leslie Mann: He’s so — to create such a nice working environment, like a very safe working environment for an actor, so you feel like everything you do is okay and good, so you’re more willing to try things and explore, and you never feel judged by him, like you’re doing something wrong and stupid. That’s how he gets great performances out of people, I think.

Paul Rudd: Yeah, you’re right. You never are in a case of wondering — oh god, did I just go too far with that joke? He just won’t use it, because I think we all have. Yeah, especially me. Sometimes in an improvisation or something it will go in a completely different way than what might be in the script, and he’ll encourage that. He certainly feels comfortable enough to spend the time going in a direction that is completely new and he can process all that in his head while he’s making it knowing that this will fit into what the next thing’s going to be. And he’s so funny himself. He’ll yell out a line while we’re shooting a scene, and we’ll just incorporate what he says into the scene, hopefully without stopping.

Leslie Mann: He kind of rewrites it as we’re rolling.

Paul Rudd: And that’s why we shot a million and a half feet of film.

Leslie Mann: That’s why, yeah.

Leslie, your character goes off on the bouncer. Was that easy to do?

Leslie: (She laughs.) We just thought it would be fun for my character to do, and no, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at taking it all the way. It’s a dream that people have when they’re in that kind of situation where there’s some dumb bouncer guy saying you’re not good enough. It’s a dream to tell that guy to fuck off, and scream at him and call him stupid. Isn’t it? Nobody? You feel like that sometimes but you don’t do that in polite society. That was a fun thing to do in the movie. It’s the only time you can do it, I guess.

Leslie, were you always going to be in this role? How did Judd ask you to do it?

Leslie: He knew he wanted me, Paul (Rudd) and Seth (Rogen) from the beginning. It was just finding Katie (Heigl).

Did you like doing the more romantic and serious parts of the movie?

Paul Rudd: We did. That scene, for instance, in the driveway, the hurt that Leslie’s feeling, and the confusion, the stuff I’m saying, it’s because we do kind of love each other. The tough parts of the marriage is heightened because it’s a comedy but we both, Judd and I talked about, you have to believe that these people are married, and why would they stay together freely, so if you can have a couple of moments where you see that they love each other, the birthday party, talking about the cupcakes…

Leslie: It’s sweet and romantic and does that answer your question? Does it seem like they love each other? Or does it seem like we’re just mad? (she asks the people in the room)

Paul Rudd: Otherwise, it’s just a one-dimensional and cartoony.

Paul, over the last decade you’ve been in some of the bigger comedies. Was it always your intention to do these comedy roles?

Paul Rudd: I always loved comedies growing up much more than anything dramatic, and when I was in college I really started to think about becoming an actor, then I started to love both, and it just so happened that in the past few years it caught on with the comedies for me, and I love doing them. These movies with Judd and Leslie and Carell and Will, they’re a blast to make so I’m psyched.

Leslie: There’s a story that Judd tells about before he met you on Anchorman…

Paul Rudd: When I met Judd, actually I knew who he was but I hadn’t met him, I was a fan of his shows and stuff and I was at a dinner explaining fake names and how it’s tricky to come up with a fake name. And I said the perfect fake name was Gernon Blanston, which was from a Steve Martin record, so somebody at dinner said well, that explains Judd’s email address, so I emailed him and congratulated him on the refernce and we kind of became pen pals. I actually never met him until “Anchorman,” but we sent emails back and forth for about a year. Isn’t that great?

Leslie: You can ask Judd, but he actually thought you were a pretty boy, and then he met you and found out …

Paul Rudd: Clearly I wasn’t.

Leslie: That you’re hilarious.

Paul Rudd: I remember the first email I got back from him he said now he feels he has an “in” to Neil LaBute plays.

You did “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” with Jessica Lange. What was that experience like?

Paul Rudd: Different from this one. It’s an amazing play to do it in London, and to play a role like Jamie, which is so tortured and tragic. Usually I don’t have a lot of trouble separating work with my real life-I usually don’t bring a character home type stuff-but that play, four hours, and living in London in the winter it was really tough. It was fulfilling and a great experience but it was the opposite of working on a comedy, especially a comedy with friends where it’s all about jokes. Equally fulfilling and something I would do again in a second. And it was a play, and those tend to be different experiences anyway.

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