INTERVIEW In anticipation of Funny People, about a friendship between a famous comedian (Adam Sandler) who falls ill and a seemingly hopeless rookie (Seth Rogen), I sat down with director Judd Apatow to discuss stand-up, life and death situations, and his early comedic influences.
SFBG This film is a total departure with a terminal illness thrown into the mix. What was your inspiration?
Judd Apatow I just wanted to write something that I cared about. I've seen too many people struggle with being seriously ill and a lot of times people get better, and it's not easy to take the wisdom that you suddenly have when you're sick and use it when you get a second chance. Funny People is all about how George (Adam Sandler) hits bottom when he gets sick and then he needs to hit bottom again to figure out how he wants to live the rest of his life.
SFBG Funny People centers on the stand-up circuit, your old stomping ground. Who were your comedic influences growing up?
JA There was [Jay] Leno and Jerry Seinfeld and Charles Fleischer. And for filmmakers, I loved all the Hal Ashby movies and Cameron Crowe and James Brooks. I like movies that make me laugh and cry or make me really feel something, and it's difficult to pull that off. That's something I'm trying to find more courage [to do] to put more weight on the story and the emotions and at the same time try really hard to make these movies just as funny as a balls-out comedy.
FUNNY PEOPLE opens Fri/31 in Bay Area theaters.
MORE AT SFBG.COM
Pixel Vision blog: Laura Swanbeck's complete Judd Apatow interview.