This Is 40 picks up where 2007’s Knocked Up left off, though it focuses on secondary characters from the first film. Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann, who is director Judd Apatow’s wife) are now a comfortably married couple, and parents to two daughters (played by the director’s children), 8-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow) and 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow). Both girls also appeared in Knocked Up.
Whereas some people would prefer to keep their family life and work life separate, Apatow says of casting his family members, “I love them and like to see them every day. They are also talented and attractive, so that helps. Leslie is the bravest actress I know. Maude and Iris are talented and funny, they understand how to work in this fluid process in the same way Paul Rudd and Charlyne Yi [also reprising a role from Knocked Up] do. They are little professionals who are not intimidated by a set because they have been on them for their entire lives.”
Apatow recalls watching Maude film a scene for This Is 40 that she’d been nervous about, where Sadie curses out her parents for reading her texts. “I told her, ‘Don’t be nervous, you’ll be great.’ She did it and just tore it up. We had a break and I asked her if she wanted to try it again. She said, ‘Yeah!’ It was like watching someone fall in love with acting.”
Maude Apatow explains that she is not quite like her character, Sadie. “This character is just a little bit more of an amped-up version. Iris and I are both a bit mellower. [In This is 40], I’m crying, screaming and cursing a lot, and I don’t do that in real life. But there is also a scene where Iris and I fight. That’s something that’s happened.”
Iris Apatow was only 3 when she made her film debut in Knocked Up and she remembers not realizing that people were laughing with her and not at her. “I would try to be funny and the people would laugh, but I would start crying if people laughed at me.”
Over the years, Mann has grown more comfortable sharing the evolution of her family and relationship with Apatow. “We have been married for 15 years, and we have a lot to say on the subject. It’s hard being married for a long time, but it’s worth it. It’s fun to have an outlet where we can vent and express all of that.”
This Is 40 is available starting March 22 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2013 Universal Pictures Credit: Suzanne Hanover