Created on: March 04, 2013
Writer, director, film producer … Judd Apatow has become the king of comedy for his runaway blockbuster comedies. From “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” to “Knocked Up” to “This Is 40,” Apatow has tickled the funny-bone of his movie fans. Not only that, he has been showered with accolades, ranging from nominations for awards ranging from Emmys to Golden Globes to Academy Awards.
In the words of “Vanity Fair,” “Apatow confirmed his long-running status as Hollywood’s comedy kingmaker with the runaway success of ‘Bridesmaids,’ which reaped $256 million in worldwide box office and catapulted Kristen Wiig to big-screen stardom.” Judd Apatow has a long list of successes, and at a self-confessed 40-plus years old, he has likely just truly begun what is expected to be a very long career in the movie industry.
Drive and performance
Just what enables a young producer like Apatow to have such influence? No doubt, it is his body of work. With more than 25 films already under his belt and an unbelievable number of successes (from “The 40-Year Old Virgin” to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” to “Get Him to the Greek”), it’s little surprise that “Entertainment Weekly” chose him as the number 1 on their list of “The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood” (narrowly beating out Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, no industry lightweights).
His love of comedy came at an early age. Already a stand-up at 17, he went on to college (USC) where he cultivated stars such as “Saturday Night Live” Comic Kevin Nealon for on-campus “Comedy Nights” at his university. He also began volunteering for events like HBO’s “Comic Relief” and hanging around the Improv in LA, where he managed to meet comedian Adam Sandler.
He continued to ferret out every opportunity to meet the stars and write for shows such as the Grammy Awards (where he was hired by Garry Shandling) and “The Ben Stiller Show,” for which he won an Emmy. He went on to work for Larry Sanders, and his writing there was nominated for yet more Emmys.
It was not a far leap to co-writing for films, as well as crafting his own scripts. While he produced his first movie in 1992, it was “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” that catapulted Apatow on the path to his successful movie career as a producer.
Plays well with others
Apatow has also been able to harness the power of his followers, whether it’s partnering up (a la Seth Rogan) or challenging them via Twitter (where he used his feed to solicit jokes for the Producers Guild Awards in 2011). Apatow has even cast his wife, Leslie Mann, in a recent film, all to great success.
Of course, not everyone is universally dewy-eyed about Judd Apatow and his brand of comedic influence. Long-time colleague Mike White noted his disenchantment with his friend’s sexist and homophobic take in “Knocked Up.” Even its star, Katherine Heigl, admitted to being a little uncomfortable with its stereotyped portrayal of women.
Still, Apatow has many more supporters than detractors, and women like recent Golden Globe Winner Lena Dunham and comedic talent Kristin Wiig have found Apatow to be “supportive” and “an incredible collaborator.”
More than anything else, Apatow has made a place for himself and his ideas in a very competitive world of comedy and movies. He has proven his worth by his huge box office draws, and in the future, it’s likely that his work will continue to evolve and mature, while never forgetting to make his audience laugh.
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