A lot of guys enjoy the private time of work to get away from the Mrs. but not Judd Apatow. After giving his wife, Leslie Mann, a small part in 40-Year-Old Virgin, he gave her the second female lead in Knocked Up. She and Apatow regular Paul Rudd play married parents, setting a warped sort of example for parents to be Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl. They actually have real issues to deal with in between their pop culture-laden improv riffs.
CraveOnline: Is it hard to maintain the reality of this married relationship when you’re improvising comedy?
Paul Rudd: I don’t know. We improvised a lot of arguments.
Paul Rudd: At first it was kind of startling because Leslie’s so good I thought she hated me after the first scene that we did.
Paul Rudd: You said, "You fight so much differently from the way Judd fights." I’d make a joke and that’s not a good thing to do when you’re fighting with your wife.
Paul Rudd: 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." 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 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 our lives, just about sex. "Do you want to have sex? We probably should." It was really hard not to laugh because I think it was the first thing. I asked Leslie if she wanted to have sex and you just went, "Ugh." It’s always hard not to laugh when you’re doing these scenes when somebody says something really funny.
CraveOnline: Is it a fairly unstructured set that way?
Leslie Mann: It’s 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, 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?" He just won’t use it, because I think we all have, 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 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.
Paul Rudd: And that’s why we shot a million and a half feet of film.
CraveOnline: As Mrs. Apatow, did it shock you to see the male group dynamics Judd put in the film?
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. 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 you [Paul]. And he knows all about that stuff too, and I just had to sit there and listen to them talk the dirty, DIRTY stuff like you just don’t hear, that I’d never heard about. You remember any examples?
Leslie Mann: The site, you know what I’m talking about don’t you?
Leslie Mann: You know, there was one that I remember being really shocked by.
Paul Rudd: Oh yeah. I do know the one you’re talking about. I probably shouldn’t. It ended .org which also was one of the funniest parts. It seemed like it was an educational facility, but it wasn’t. 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. 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.
CraveOnline: Paul even when you’re playing a supporting role, you seem to give each character a unique look, down to the hair style.
Paul Rudd: Yeah. It’s true. Night At The Museum was just stupid-looking. And then in Diggers it was longish. And in this one it was kind of cool and bed heady It’s all about the hair.
CraveOnline: Why is that so important to you?
Paul Rudd: Well, with those ones in particular, with Diggers it was a guy who was much more internal. It wasn’t really a comedy, although it was kind of funny, but it was a clamdigger in Long Island, so his dialect would be different. Night At The Museum was just a scene, you just put a bunch of weird phones and pagers on your belt to try and dork it up, but that won’t really sustain itself over a whole movie. And this character was obviously different. And then there’s something like an Anchorman which is just truly hair. I mean that’s really long hair and a mustache. I dunno. They’re all different characters, so you just play them differently.
CraveOnline: Did any of the rant at the bouncer come from your own feelings and were you nervous about exposing your vulnerabilities?
Leslie Mann: 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 f*ck 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.
CraveOnline: Did Judd write this role for you?
Leslie Mann: He knew he wanted me, Paul and Seth from the beginning. It was just finding Katie [Heigl].
CraveOnline: Did you have any concerns about using your own 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 don’t know, 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.
CraveOnline: Did you explain to them what they were doing?
Leslie Mann: Anything about the movie? You know, what did we say to Maude? She was just so good. I’m trying to think of what we said to her. We just told her she would need to talk about how babies were born. That’s as much as we told her, and then she improvised that.
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.
CraveOnline: Did you like doing the serious parts of the movie?
Paul Rudd: We did. That scene, for instance, in the driveway, that I hurt 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. Otherwise, it’s just a one-dimensional cartoon.
Leslie Mann: 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, 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 Gern 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 it, 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.
Leslie Mann: You can ask Judd, but he actually thought you were a pretty boy, and then he met you and found out…
Paul Rudd: That I wasn’t.
Leslie Mann: That you’re hilarious.
Paul Rudd: He said to me that now he feels he has an "in" to Neil LaBute plays.
CraveOnline: Paul, did you always know you’d be doing 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 do 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, they’re a blast to make so I’m psyched.