I’m a big fan of Pete Davidson on Saturday Night Live, but I’m an even bigger fan of Judd Apatow, and now those two funny people are teaming up on an untitled comedy taking shape at Universal.
The project is described as being semi-autobiographical, as it takes its inspiration from Davidson’s own childhood. He grew up in Staten Island, New York and lost his firefighter father on 9/11 — a traumatic event that shaped Davidson’s sense of humor. He first took the stage at age 16 and worked through that sense of loss via stand-up comedy. In fact, I’m a big fan of Davidson’s album SMD, where he jokes a lot about his mother and the uncomfortable moments they shared during his adolescence.
Apatow hasn’t directed a feature film since the 2015 comedy Trainwreck, which made a bona fide star out of Amy Schumer. The director’s new movie will aim to do the same for Davidson, and just as Schumer played a character named ‘Amy’ in Trainwreck, the SNL star will indeed play ‘Pete’ in the film based on his life. Apatow co-wrote the script with Davidson and Dave Sirus, and he’s also producing with his longtime collaborator Barry Mendel (The Big Sick). Universal hopes to start production this summer, and its VP of Production Erik Baiers will oversee the project for the studio.
In addition to the tragic loss of his father, Davidson will have plenty of life experience to mine for material, as he has struggled with drug addiction and been to rehab, he dated pop star Ariana Grande, and he also made it onto a little show called SNL. That late-night staple has launched the film careers of numerous stars, from Mike Myers and Adam Sandler to Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, and Davidson appears to be the next cast member to take the leap. His latest movie, Big Time Adolescence, just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and is on the verge of a sale, and I recall one intriguing development project that would’ve seen Davidson enrolling at a historically black college in pursuit of a young woman. I think he could thrive in a fish-out-of-water comedy like that one, but I can also see how he’d be the perfect leading man for Apatow’s more introspective, thoughtful approach to making studio comedies.
Davidson will soon be seen in the Paramount comedy What Men Want, which hits theaters on Feb. 8. Apatow is coming off the Emmy-winning documentary The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, which was easily one of the best things I saw last year on both the big and small screens. He also directed two of the best comedies of this century between The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. He’s represented by UTA and Mosaic, while Davidson is repped by ICM Partners and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news.