Born in 1967 in New York, Judd Apatow studied screenwriting and worked as a stand-up comedian before earning an Emmy for his writing on The Ben Stiller Show. After creating the critically acclaimed series Freaks and Geeks, he went on to direct, write and produce the smash 2005 movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin. He followed in 2007 with another hit, Knocked Up, and later directed the films Funny People, This Is 40 and Trainwreck. Apatow has also worked as a producer and screenwriter for several other big-screen comedies, and is an executive producer for the HBO series Girls.
Background and Early Career
Judd Apatow was born in Syosset, New York, on December 6, 1967, to Tami Shad and Maury Apatow. Judd worked at his local high school station, hosting "Club Comedy" and interviewing talent like John Candy, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld and Weird Al Yankovic. Apatow was also an avid TV watcher, immersing himself in comedic fare like Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda and Saturday Night Live.
Apatow went west and attended the University of Southern California for a time, where he studied screenwriting. He worked as a stand-up comedian, including a stint on the TV series Comic Strip Live, before realizing that he was better equipped at penning material for others. He wrote for comedians like Roseanne Barr, Jim Carrey and Tom Arnold, and by 1992, had earned an executive producer position with the sketch/variety series The Ben Stiller Show. Though the show ran for just one season, Apatow won an Emmy Award for his writing.
Acclaimed Show 'Freaks and Geeks'
Apatow then became one of the writers and executive producers for Garry Shandling's The Larry Sanders Show for several seasons, earning additional Emmy nominations. He continued his journey in TV by creating the series Freaks and Geeks, which debuted in 1999. Though Apatow dealt with another show being cancelled after one season, Freaks earned critical acclaim and provided a platform for actors who would work with the creator on future projects.
By the mid-'90s, Apatow was also getting into film, serving as executive producer and screenwriter on Celtic Pride and producing The Cable Guy, both comedies from 1996. He met actress Leslie Mann on The Cable Guy set; the two married in the summer of 1997 and have two daughters.
Directing Debut With '40-Year-Old Virgin'
Apatow made his big-screen directorial debut in August 2005 with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell as a sensitive, somewhat alienated soul taking his first steps to becoming sexually intimate. The film, which Apatow also wrote and produced, was an unexpected smash, earning almost $110 million in the domestic box office and another $68 million overseas.
Apatow's next film as a director, 2007's Knocked Up, co-starred Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen as a mismatched couple who end up becoming parents. Knocked Up became another hit for Apatow, earning $219 million worldwide. Apatow was cementing a reputation for creating popular work around men coming to terms with growing up.
In addition to his directing, Apatow has served as the producer and/or screenwriter for a number of big-screen comedies, including Anchorman (2004), Superbad (2007), You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008), Step Brothers (2008), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Get Him to the Greek (2010) and Bridesmaids (2011).
Helming 'This Is 40' and 'Trainwreck'
Apatow went on to direct 2009's Funny People, starring his former roommate Adam Sandler as a mega-star comedian dealing with a terminal illness. The film, which co-starred Rogen and Mann and focuses on the world of stand-up comedy, had more modest returns in terms of its box office take.
During the December holiday season of 2012, the next Apatow-helmed film project arrived in the form of This Is 40, a semi-autobiographical look at family life from the perspective of a Californian couple and their two daughters. The film stars Paul Rudd, with his character's wife played by Mann and the film couple's children played by Apatow's own daughters.
Apatow has continued his TV duties by executive producing the hit HBO series Girls, starring Lena Dunham. He also oversaw the first comedy issue of Vanity Fair. And 2015 saw the release of Apatow's next full-length feature as a director, Trainwreck, starring Amy Schumer as a commitment-phobic writer who develops interest in a physician (Bill Hader).
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