Five years ago we met Pete and Debbie in Knocked Up (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) who now reprise their roles as husband and wife in This is 40, an unfiltered comedic look inside the life and an American family. In his forth directorial outing, Judd Apatow’s new comedy captures what it takes for one family to flourish in the middle of a lifetime together. After years of marriage Pete lives in a house of all females, wife debbie and their two daughters played by the real life children of Leslie and Judd. As Pete struggles to keep his record label afloat, he and debbie must figure out how to forgive, forget and enjoy the rest of their lives before they kill each other.
At a recent press conference in Los Angeles the cast got together with director Judd Apatow to discuss their latest project and the honest portrait of the challenges and rewards of marriage and parenthood and if it really suck to be 40.
What has been the toughest thing about turning 40 and how have you’ve overcome it?
Judd Apatow: I’ve overcame it by making two movies with the number forty in the title. I claim that I haven’t had a nervous breakdown turning 40, it was more like 30.
Leslie Mann: I think everyday is different. Some days I feel fine and other days I feel like crying all day. In have lunches with my girlfriends who just turned 40 and in some of those lunches we’re just crying and screaming about our husbands and saying we want to leave them right away. Then other lunches we’re fine and we love our husbands and we’re happy with our lives.
Judd Apatow: I’m not going to let you go out to lunch anymore.
Leslie Mann: I keep asking women who are older when is this going to pass and they say it’s not going to pass, it’s just going to get worse.
Paul Rudd: Oh my God this is depressing.
Albert Brooks: Well I have a different secret, when I was much much younger I started to make friends with people who were older. So when I was 20 my friends were 50 and I never really went through 40 because I would watch them die and I would always feel younger. So you make friends with older people and you feel younger no matter what. On my 40th birthday I was in hospice with my 92 year old buddy! No that’s a lie.
Megan Fox: I kind of go with what Albert said, my husband is 13 years older so I’ll always be a trophy wife.
Albert Brooks: That’s true.
Judd how much did you know about a women’s perspective about turing 40 and is that where Leslie you came in and helped Judd out?
Judd Apatow: We’ve talked about the movie for years together and that’s where a lot of the scene ideas come from. It’s really a coded conversation where we are really debating our problems to each other, so Leslie can complain about Pete and not about me. I would say don’t you think we should do a scene where we point out how controlling Debbie is? The she’ll say yea but maybe we should do a scene where Pete admits he’s a dick! Then we would go back and forth like that. At the end it just mutates into this other thing where we just put me and Paul’s worst traits into this monster husband that Debbie has to deal with.
Leslei Mann: I would fantasize about things because I can say these things to Pete but I really can’t say these things to Judd. Also the scene with Melissa McCarthy, I would never to that. I would love to do that, so it was fun.
Megan were you a bit nervous coming into this established group of actors?
Megan Fox: No because from the first audition I went in for it was Judd, Leslie, and Paul. I went in with my sides and we did that once I think, then Judd wanted me and Paul to improvise and have an awkward conversation so I was scared shitless then that I got over it at that point. There was that once day on set where Leslie and I did the scene in the car after the club and that was one of those days where I memorized the wrong scene so I didn’t know my dialogue so I was so scared that I didn’t know it that I started to do all these crazy stuff in the scene where I don’t know if it worked. I was so scared that day.
Judd Apatow: It was also three in the morning.
There was a lot of referencing to Lost, I was just wondering if J.J. Abrams was aware?
Judd Apatow: Well our daughter actually watched Lost in about six weeks and was crying and very emotional. Then we thought we were bad parents for allowing that but we are lazy parents to keep up with her and monitor the episodes. I realized that I really don’t know what to do here and it probably makes out for a good joke for the movie. That’s what I usually do when I should make a strong parenting decision, I just usually let it play out and see if a joke results from it. But J.J. read the script and came to previews and I made sure to show everybody the footage and to make sure he was happy. But he is a geek that has ruined our lives!
What was one of the hardest scenes to film?
Leslie Mann: Melissa McCarthy was the hardest one. It was the hardest, it was the weirdest thing, I’ve never experience that and I couldn’t hold it together. With her we could not keep a straight face and finally we just gave up and Judd said we could just laugh because he was using more then just one camera.
Paul Rudd: I’ve seen people on terrors before but that was something other worldly. She just kept her composure through all of it.
Judd Apatow: I’ve never seen anything like that other then Chris Farley. If he looked you in the eye you would just bust up.
With casting your daughters in this film and talking about personal body changes how did they react to that?
Leslie Mann: She’s really open to talking about periods, she’ll talk about it in detail, she does not care at all.
Judd Apatow: This is not an era of kids that are shy about it.
Leslie Mann: We also don’t allow them to curse at home, so it was fun for her to be able to do that at work which I didn’t think was a good idea but Judd thinks it’s funny.
Judd Apatow: She finally uses it against me. She says well they used it in Superbad. You make your whole living off of cursing how can you not like cursing.
Paul in the scene where Judd has you put your legs over your head, how do you prepare for that and is there something that you would not do?
Leslie Mann: He wouldn’t take off his shirt for the toilet scene.
Judd Apatow: Oh that’s right for the poster, on the toilet we asked him if he would take off his shirt, that’s the only time you’ve ever drawn the line.
Paul Rudd: Here’s the thing, I’m not excited about any of it. I thought it would be funny but it’s embarrassing and horrifying and late in the context of the movie. I think what we’re all trying to go for is some kind of reality and certainly if it’s funny there’ no room for vanity. So I was laughing as I was in that position as I was also dying in the inside.
Megan Fox: What were you wearing in that scene?
Judd Apatow: It was a little cover up
Leslie Mann: It was a little nude undie
Megan Fox: Was it a full panty or was it a thong?
Paul Rudd: Whatever it was, it was horrifying and I completely blacked it out. I think the only way Leslie and I could prepare for that is with a bottle of gin.
Leslie you have to go home with Judd so is there anything you ever tell him you can’t do?
Leslie Mann: I’m pretty much game for anything.
Judd Apatow: She pushes for them. The ones you think I made her do are the ones she thought of, usually.
Paul you’re married with kids, can you relate to your character having the same frustrations in life?
Paul Rudd: Obviously situations are different but there are certain aspects of marriage and parenthood that seem relatable. We also spent years talking about all this stuff. We’ve also gotten together, my wife, Leslie and Judd and had many dinners and talked about it. We also did this going back to Knocked Up so there are aspects of the character that are very much so apart of me.
For anyone on the panel, since Lost is the kids TV obsession in this movie, what do any of you watch on TV?
Albert Brooks: You’re going to get me started here on a stupid topic. You know I watch Homeland, but the last few I can’t. I’m having trouble. Are you watching this show?
Judd Apatow: We haven’t seen Homeland. We’re behind on so many good shows. We have many years of catching up to do.
Megan Fox: Don’t spoil it.
Albert Brooks: No. No. I don’t want to spoil it, but there are just some things they need to fix. But that’s a very good show.
Judd Apatow: You would have tortured people differently?
Albert Brooks: No it’s not that. It’s just you can’t keep talking on cellphones without people listening. Everything is done over a cellphone, all the key information and it’s the CIA. It bothers me. But I think the acting is great on that show, and I watch that on Sunday. And then I never got into The Wire when it was on.
Judd Apatow: That’s the best.
Jude does it ever get weird having to watch your wife make out with other people?
Judd Apatow: I don’t mind it because I know Paul and Leslie don’t really like it. If I sensed that they liked it, it would make me uncomfortable. Every once in a while I can tell like Leslie likes it and that makes me sick. So then I cue less takes. But with Paul I see it makes him uncomfortable. I think. Or they’re faking it really well.
Judd I was going to ask you about Anchorman 2. Where are you?
Judd Apatow: It’s like Empire Strikes Back. It’s top secret. I wish I could give it away though because it would be fun to just tell you the funny scenes. Paul has like the funniest scene ever in movie history in it. Actually he truly has like a scene that is so funny.
Paul Rudd: That remains to be seen.
Judd Apatow: Unless you screw it up.
Paul Rudd: That’s what I mean.
Judd Apatow: There’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of pressure.
“This is 40″ is in theaters December 21st.