“They say never drink and drive? Well, never drink and bone.”
Judd Apatow, 2007
On the cusp of taking over from theZucker and Farrelly brothersasMayor of Mirth, or what passes for mirth in LA, ex-stand-up, ex-room-mate of Adam Sandler and ex-TV writer Judd Apatowhad a dream wish list of the girls he wanted to impregnate on a drunkenone night stand.Er, inhis script that is.
She: I meant, like hurry up, I was drunk.
He: Was your vagina drunk?
He had another hottie list for her the poor girls’s mother. I say girl, butthe infanticipating Alison is a woman, with a TV career rising at E! Entertainment.She’s no longer atthe age when a damsel stupidly has unprotected sex. In Britain, at least, it’s not thirtysomethings who put get up the duff, but teenagersor, alas, 11 or 12-year-olds.
So then Apatow saw all kinds of women to portray the titular victim. They did not all make much sense. (But meeting and musing about them was just great!). Some were not evenall the right age.Michelle Pfeiffer, more of a wet dreamlist idea for Alison, was 47 when the film was shot - same age as an Apatow suggestion for Alison’s mother: Daryl Hannah!
But, hey when you’re the hottest new auteur on the block and you have this sexy comedy with a message (love is all), you tend to flex your ego and finally get to see all the foxy actresses you always wanted to meet...It may be the last opportunity.
Allison Scott.Anne Hathaway got the part until visited by Creative Differences. Frankly, she never agreed with Apatow’s plans to use a real birth - or a crowning shot - ie. a vagina -in the climactic delivery roomsequence.
Others were less against the crowning (as it turned out and an obvious prosthetic as none of the contenders were pregnant or about to deliver) than the idea ofbeing suddenly in the family waydue to adrunken one-nighter with a stoner schlumbag like Seth Rogen. He is Apatow’s Jean-Pierre Leaud... although Seth andhis chums, quite the pug-ugliest child-men in Hollywood history,behave more like Beavis and Butthead. Apatow sees them all as “the Spice Girls of Jews.” Except they cannot carry a tune and are soretarded they’d never heard of the Mr Skinwebsite while trying to createtheir own site of movienude scenes.
Kristin Cavallari, a succulent blonde from Illinois, was the youngest to test at age 20. Too young! But perfect.She went on to win her own crude, rude movies, Wild Cherryand Spring Break, in 2008.
Elizabeth Banks was 23 and did well - very well - in her audition yet had to wait for a later Rogen film. When he saw her nametopping the list for Miri in Zack and Miri Make A Porno, 2008, he told director Kevin Smith: “She’d be my first choice too. She’s amazing.”Smithdidn’t have the heart to tell him thatshe was just first - alphabetically.
Christina Aguilera (27, like Hathaway) backed out, being more concerned with her songstress career. Drew Barrymore, 32, knew Apatow well but avoided this one. LikewiseRachel Leigh Cook and Claire Danes, both 28, they auditioned and ran... Josie Davis, Juliette Lewis, both 34...and TiffaniThiessen,33...
Although it was obvious - or it wasto peopleliving outside Hollyweird - thatthey were far too old, Apatow also sawUma Thurman,37, and Renée Zellweger, 38. (As if after her suave Britishdudes, Bridget Jones was going to rumble with Rogen). Apatow never raised the subject of their age. He kept that comment when rejecting Jennifer Connellly, 37... Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields, both 42.
At one time
he got so desperate
... or simply wet-dreaming anew that he called up a freres Farrellystar, Cameron Diaz.However, shewas35 and had been down Profane Alley before thank you very much.
And so Katharine Heigl became pregnant - at 29 - as if a Gray’s Anatomy TV medic wouldn’t haveknownbetter! And indeed, as if such a blondegoddess would be messing aroundwith such a tubby, schlubby bong-bandit as Rogen in the first place. Strangely, Alison protects her breasts rather than her sexual activioty.
She, in fact, was the only lady on the Apatow-Rogen wish list never uncovered on Mr Skin!This could explain why she keeps screwing Seth in her underwear, hardly something the wannabe Mr Skin II would be satisfied with.He can ask her for a bj but not to drop the bra...?
Well, his excuse is he was trying not tosweat... “You’re essentially dry humping a girl who you don’t know very well,” Rogen says about their sex scenes. “And my major concern was that I was going to drip a big gob of sweat on her head. It’s nerves - but luckily they’re comedic sex scenes, supposedly. So that kind of helps.”
Soon enough, Heigl was so disliked that many were cheering on hearing that her 2006 thriller Zyzzyx Road, which co-starred Tom Sizemore (!) becamethe lowest grossing film of all time, after it was shown for seven days in Dallas, Texas to fulfill the US release obligation required by the Screen Actors Guild for low-budget films. Total gross? $30.
Mom .Naturally Alison’s mothercould notbe selected until Alisonhad been accepted by someone... anyone!Kim Basinger was the youngestmother on Apatow’s list at 44, Jodie Fosterwas 45,Daryl Hannah 47 (and shenixed the roleeven before auditions had officially begun) and Melanie Griffith was 50.
They all said no - and no wonder.Mum had but one scene, if memory serves. Joanna Kerns pulled it off - at 54.(Her own daughter, Ashley, is the same age as KatherineHeigl).
Debbie .The onerole there was no arguing about was Alison’s sister.That went to, surprise, surprise, Mrs Apatow, Leslie Mann,35 at the time.(She alsogot Paul Rudd, the only handsome guy in the cast, as her husband). “My wife tends to challenge me when I’m working on the female roles,” Apatow has explained. “She beats up on me about making sure they have the proper amount of depth and not just be there to serve the men. She gets mad at me if I say: How do we make this funny? She just wants to make it real.”
His other influences are
Such as Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, James L Brooks, John Cassavetes, David Chase, Cameron Crowe - “filmmakers who let something unexpected happen on camera. Their work is alive.”Plus his current idol: Ricky Gervais.And, biensur, the Canadian Rogen. They have been working together since the 1999-2000 TV series Freaks and Geeks. The title perfectly encapsulatesRogen’s LA career - including his bizarre elevation to superherodom asThe Green Hornet, 2009.
This time, Apatow delivered an upside-down compliment to him: “You could be funny in any normal situation - like you could get a girl pregnant.” And a movie was born. “You can say that Knocked Up is Seth Rogen's character in Freaks and Geeks - a little bit older and he gets a woman pregnant. It’s not that different except we’re not handcuffed by broadcast standards.”
Indeed not. Hence the movie’s crowning achievement... the most bizarre casting tale on my site. How a real life baby being born was replaced by a plastic gizmo.
“I just try to be as truthful as I can,” said Apatow about his art. “If I’m going to tell a story about relationships - you know, people curse, they have sex, and they smoke things they shouldn’t.And the truth of a birth is that a baby comes out of there! So the reason I show a crowning shot is that if I don’t show it, I just look like an episode of Friends and I’m trying to make you feel the pain of that experience, because it is the most intense moment in people’s lives. I had to do something that hadn’t been done before.
“My original goal was to find a woman who would allow me to shoot the baby coming out and then match it into Katherine - get the same sheets, the same bed. And we got close to getting it shot, but here’s why we weren’t allowed to. And this is interesting. The state of California says you can’t do that because the unborn child would need a worker’s permit and I can’t get it ’til he’s born. There is a Kurt Vonnegut problem right there.”
The Farrelly brothers [names never cited by the Apatow clan] are gross for gross’ sake. Judd and Seth are gross for comedic sake. The auteur further helps his capers - The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Pineapple Express, Funny People - by using multiple cameras to find a rhythm that’s closer to life, thereby, “avoiding a movie that looks scripted and sitcommy, hacky and stiff.”
It remains a great shame that Apatow since lost Anne Hathaway. She has become a winner in comedy - and would have bonded better with Rogen. While Heigl never stopped attacking the film... and swiftly became one of the most hated actresses in Hollywood.
Apatow’s other mission - at 40 - is to shock, or at least wake up America by showing a penis in every movie. “America fears the penis, and that’s something I’m going to help them get over.”
Except here, strangely enough, where a penis is the film’s actual protagonist.