Amy Schumer is a comedy star on fire, and in her first major feature film as the writer and star, she will both make you laugh and make you cry. In Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow, Amy’s father (Colin Quinn) doesn’t believe in monogamy and has drilled that into her head since childhood, turning her into something of a commitment-phobic career woman. After having spent so much time living her life without apologies, even when she probably should apologize, Amy suddenly has to face her fears when she meets a good guy (Bill Hader), who just happens to be the subject of the latest article that she’s writing for work.
During a conference at the film’s press day, Amy Schumer talked about how difficult it was to write something so personal, why she wanted to include the MS story with her father, just how much of this comes from her own life, her habit for speaking her mind, how much this movie changed and evolved, along the way, and shooting sex scenes.
Question: When you take time out to talk about your show or this movie, do you also like having the opportunity to discuss bigger life issues?
AMY SCHUMER: I like talking about both. It’s therapeutic for me to be like, “Yes, I’m not going to look like a malnourished bird.” I like speaking to that, as well as speaking about my work and what I’m doing. I don’t mind.
Was it difficult writing something so personal, and then finding the sweet sport to bring in the comedy?
SCHUMER: It was difficult, yeah. Also, on this season of my show, I rewrote Twelve Angry Men and had to trash myself endlessly for 35 pages. I would say that was actually harder than this. But, Judd [Apatow] really encouraged me to look at myself and ask myself these questions. He really made me realize that I was broken. It was difficult, sitting there and really digging these things out that I didn’t even know that I thought, but I’m really glad I did.
What made you decide to include the MS side story?
SCHUMER: From the beginning, I was going to write about my dad. It is an affliction that a lot of people don’t know anything about, but a lot of people have it. So, this was a good opportunity to show what it’s like for somebody living with that. But I also was a little fearful because the way my dad handled it was to continue to drink and really punish his body, whereas it’s come a long way and it’s way more manageable than the way he’s treated it. That was a little fear of mine. But yeah, from the get-go, I was definitely going to write about my dad and show our relationship. That shit’s pretty unfair.
What was the inspiration for the opening scene with the dad talking to his two young daughters?
SCHUMER: The inspiration was my dad. He never sat us down and said, “Monogamy is not realistic,” but we got to see that in his behavior, every day, with all of the new women that we were supposed to call mom. We wanted to have a flashback. Our dad taught us to play poker really young, and if we would do something wrong, he’d be like, “If this were a real game, you’d be killed.” He just treated us like dudes his age. He was really aggressive. So, we wanted to show that realistic, inappropriate, boundary-less dealing with children. And watching Colin [Quinn] do that scene, I’m so glad that we opened the movie with it. It’s one of my very favorite scenes.
With so much of this movie taken from your real life, is there anything in it that we would be surprised to know was based from reality?
SCHUMER: A lot of people ask me if I intended to flip the gender roles and play the guy, but that’s not my experience, at all. But this is how I am, and how a lot of girls I know are, where the guy ends up being a little more sensitive and invested. The scene where I get high, and then John Cena’s character looks through my phone, but instead of comforting him, I ask if I can leave, that did happen in my real life.
Have you had to learn about what to say and what not to say and when to say it, when it comes to the press?
SCHUMER: I think that I’m pretty impulsive and have a habit of speaking my mind. Sometimes the questions feel aggressive and hurtful and I’ll say, “That’s so rude!” I don’t do a good job of rolling with it. With this movie, some people just miss the point and get it wrong. They’re like, “So, you’re a disgusting cum dumpster. Is that fun?” And I’m like, “Yes, thank you so much for having me. Isn’t this a morning show?”
Since this is the first big movie you’ve done, how did it change throughout the process?
SCHUMER: I am very lucky that Judd came along and became my fairy godfather with this movie. Actually, the first couple of drafts were pretty sad, but he was so calm and like, “We’ll add the jokes later.” He just saw the pieces of what he could turn into a movie that we could be proud of. It changed so much. There were some scenes that I didn’t even think of and he was like, “We need this here.” Just knowing the balance of not leaving the audience hanging and sad for too long, and how a character like mine could still be likeable and believable. You could really turn on me. If I describe any scene to someone, they’re like, “So, she’s the worst?” There were huge changes to the ending. That ending was an Apatow production idea.
What was it like playing a couple with Bill Hader and having a romantic on screen relationship with him?
SCHUMER: Bill was disgusting. I found working with him to be atrocious. No. We just hit it off. It was great. It was fun. There are a couple of people that I’ve met in my life where you just bring this really silly energy out in each other, and you’re like, “Oh, my god, we’re going to be friends forever.” We felt really comfortable, right away.
Which sex scene did you enjoy more, the one with Bill Hader or the one with John Cena?
SCHUMER: I wouldn’t call my scene with John a sex scene, as much as I would call it trying not to die. I was just bracing myself. No. They were both wonderful. I think about both of them, every day. It was really hard to do the more serious, sexy scene. I wasn’t grossed out, but I was embarrassed.
Trainwreck opens in theaters on July 17th.