Judd Apatow

Active - 1992 - Present  |   Born - Dec 6, 1967 in Syosset, New York, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A talented screenwriter/producer whose television work is often critically praised before being prematurely canceled, Judd Apatow has a dedicated fan base that has nevertheless continued to grow thanks to such winning efforts as The Ben Stiller Show and Freaks and Geeks. Work on a high-school radio show offered the showbiz hopeful his first taste of success, and in the years following his high-school graduation, the quick-witted aspiring standup comedian hit the comedy circuit to generally positive notice. Apatow's act eventually became a staple of FOX's Comic Strip Live, and when the series was canceled in 1994, he opted to shift his focus toward writing and producing. Though he had already achieved some amount of notoriety as a result of his involvement with such efforts as The Larry Sanders Show and The Ben Stiller Show, Apatow began to move into feature territory as the writer and executive producer of Heavyweights and Celtic Pride. Though neither film proved a hit at the box office, they did find a healthy second wind on home video, and Apatow's next endeavor as a producer was the widely panned Jim Carrey film The Cable Guy. Directed by friend and frequent collaborator Ben Stiller, The Cable Guy offered a pointed satire on media influence with Carrey's dark, disturbing performance deviating about as far from the antics of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective as one could get. Once again, Apatow's vision was simply ahead of its time, and it wasn't until The Cable Guy hit home video that the filmgoing masses were truly able to digest the warped masterpiece. When Freaks and Geeks hit the air in 1999, it appeared as if Apatow finally had a hit on his hands. A funny, touching, and endearingly realistic take on high-school life among the less popular set, the show was quickly canceled and never afforded the chance to find an audience thanks to overzealous network executives. Apatow's next series, Undeclared (essentially Freaks and Geeks goes to college), fared only moderately better, with 16 episodes aired before the plug was pulled. In 2003, Apatow served as producer for the made-for-television feature Life on Parole, and shortly thereafter, he returned to feature-film territory as the producer of the throwback Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman (2004). By this point it was only logical that the increasingly-prolific writer/producer would try his hand at writing directing a feature film, and after penning the 2005 Jim Carrey comedy Fun with Dick and Jane, Apatow seemed to find the ideal collaborator in the form of wildly unpredictable Daily Show correspondent Steve Carell; their work together ultimately yielding the suprisingly endearing 2005 comedy hit The 40 Year Old Virgin. A brief return to the producer's chair found Apatow teaming with former Freaks and Geeks co-hort Jake Kasdan for the 2006 comedy The TV Set, and after joining Will Ferrell and company for a side-splitting trip to the racetrack as producer of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, the busy multi-hyphenate would take on triple duty by writing, producing, and directing the 2007 comedy Knocked Up - a one-night-stand laugher that featured a number of Apatow's old small-screen cast members including Freaks and Geeks' Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, Jason Segel, and Undeclared's Jay Baruchel. That film would become another box-office blockbuster and establish Rogen and Katherine Heigl as movie stars.

He continued his hot streak in 2008 acting as producer on three well-regarded comedies - Pineapple Express, Step Brothers, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, while 2009 found Apatow back in the director's chair for the ambitious showbiz/cancer comedy Funny People with Adam Sandler.

In addition to helping produce hit comedies like Get Him to the Greek, Wanderlust, and the Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids, Apatow continued to work on his own projects as well, releasing the sort-of sequel to Knocked Up, This Is 40, for the Christmas season in 2012.

Since 1997 Apatow has been married to actress Leslie Mann who has been in many of her husband's films including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, and This Is 40.

Movie Highlights

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  • Interviewed comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Martin Short, John Candy and Jay Leno while hosting the "Club Comedy" radio show at Syosset High School.
  • Started his professional career as a stand-up comic in the late 1980s, making his TV debut on Fox's short-lived Comic Strip Live.
  • Shared an apartment with Adam Sandler after dropping out of USC's screenwriting program.
  • Worked as a joke writer for Roseanne Barr, Jim Carrey and Tom Arnold in the early '90s.
  • Met his wife, actor Leslie Mann, when he produced dark comedy The Cable Guy (1996), in which she co-starred with Jim Carrey.
  • Created the cult NBC shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared; wrote and produced for several other acclaimed comedy series, including The Larry Sanders Show and The Ben Stiller Show.
  • Made his feature directing debut in 2005 with the surprise hit comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin.