The Untold Truth Of Judd Apatow

One of the biggest producers in Hollywood, Judd Apatow dominates the comedy field. He's worked behind the scenes of many of your favorite funny movies, including "Anchorman," "Superbad," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," and "Step Brothers." His debut series,"Freaks and Geeks," was a launchpad for actors James Franco, Jason Segal, Seth Rogen, and Linda Cardellini. And though the show was canceled far too quickly, it helped establish Apatow as a combination writer, producer, and director.

Following the success of his directorial debut on the big screen, "The 40 Year Old Virgin," Apatow started to build an impressive resume. After follow-up "Knocked Up," there was a point in the late aughts when, as The New York Times noted, "an Apatow-connected comedy will hit multiplexes at a rate of about one every three months."

Outside of movies and TV, Apatow became passionately involved in politics. In the producer's personal life, he's lived with famous actors — both in his immediate family and a famous roommate. Watch out for your funny bone as we explore the untold truth of Judd Apatow.

Judd Apatow is a New York City native

Judd Apatow grew up in the Syosset part of Long Island and as Newsday put it, "the Mets are in his blood." Laughing and making people laugh seems to be part of his makeup, too. "I was obsessed with comedy," he told The Guardian, adding that he couldn't find any fellow comedy nerds in his peer group. "So all my friends would be playing sports after school and I'd go home alone and watch 'Monty Python,'" he said.

When Apatow was 14 years old, he would go visit his mother at her place of work, which just so happened to be a comedy club. As The Guardian noted, that would really spark his love of stand-up. At school, he honed writing skills, telling Long Island Weekly that one of his teachers said he was "really funny" after reading one of his papers. "No adult had ever said that to me," he remembered. "I'd only gotten punished for writing things like that. I never forgot it and I really believed her."

Even after a successful career behind the entertainment industry, Apatow confessed that some things never change. "As a kid I felt like a nerd and now I still feel like one and I don't know why," he shared with The Guardian.

Judd Apatow had an unbelievable high school job

While he was at Syosset High in Long Island, Judd Apatow remembers exploring and having fun like most high schoolers. "School would end and from 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock our parents would have no idea where we were. We were just running around with zero supervision having a blast," he recalled to Newsday. But Apatow's one hobby was far from ordinary. He hosted a radio show when he was in high school and amazingly interviewed some of the biggest names in comedy at the time. As recounted on Today, Apatow spoke with Jay Leno, Steve Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld among other comics.

"I just wanted to be in the comedy world so bad that there was nothing I wouldn't do to get access to comedians," Apatow told NPR. According to the producer, one of his friends and colleagues at the radio station interviewed musicians. This inspired Apatow, who no longer felt limited when realizing "we can get interviews with professional people even though our signal doesn't get out of the school parking lot." And his technique to get a hold of the big names was a simple phone call. "I started calling up the publicists of comedians and I think back then no one wanted to talk to comedians," Apatow said.

How Judd Apatow spent his time during quarantine

Like many other celebrities, Judd Apatow adjusted his normal schedule while in quarantine due to restrictions from COVID-19. With this change of scenery, the producer felt somewhat directionless. "Well, I didn't know what to do for a while," he told The Atlantic. "The early stages of it, you just think, Should I just be drunk the whole time? How much ice cream should I eat? Am I gonna be healthy or will I just let it all fall apart?"

But soon, Apatow settled in and started to explore his passions. Along with his wife, Leslie Mann, they found "some structure" to be quite effective. This meant first doing "something healthy, whatever that is" every day. "And the second half of the day, we try to do something productive. Cleaning your closet, outlining a script." Then in the evening, Apatow sat in front of the TV to consume his favorite series. He revealed that one of his top shows is "The Bachelor," plus he enjoys the HBO series "The Wire" and "Deadwood." And he likely had the time to watch his favorite movies. Apatow told the outlet that his top movie is "Terms of Endearment," calling the 1983 film "one of the funniest movies of all time!"

Judd Apatow became a political commentator

Judd Apatow was among the list of celebs who couldn't stand to see Donald Trump as president. He didn't hide his dislike and would often use Twitter to express his feelings. In a 2017 "Today" interview, Apatow explained how he felt it was necessary to speak out, even if it led to backlash. "I think everybody is concerned about their careers," he said in reference to a possible effect of taking a political stance. But ultimately, he said "the idea of not speaking up feels really wrong." The producer explained that when looking at history, he usually felt confused that people could allow bad things to happen. And he didn't want to remain silent and be on the wrong side of history. "I feel that, like deep within me," Apatow shared.

As he explained to Vulture in 2017, his messages on Twitter usually had a central theme. "I think we have an incompetent, corrupt president, so I point that out," he said. Apatow also noted that unique position as a comedian meant it was his "job to give people some levity." He hoped the brief comedic relief could be an answer to the never-ending news cycles with the present.

Inside the creation of Girls

One of Judd Apatow's most popular shows that he's helped out on is the HBO series "Girls." The series also helped Lena Dunham transform into one of the brightest stars of her generation. Prior to "Girls," Dunham appeared as the lead character in the indie film "Tiny Furniture." A copy made its way to Apatow, and as the producer told reporter Graham Bensinger on an episode of "In Depth," he "was just blown away" by the movie. "It was very honest, it was sweet," he said. "I just got it." And at the time, he didn't realize the actor was also the writer, director, and producer. So, he wrote her an email and said he wanted to support her next career move. And in fact, Dunham's next career move was on the horizon — she was just about to sign on with HBO. She asked Apatow to join the team and he came on board as an executive producer on Girls.

When Vulture asked him about working with Dunham, Apatow called her "so inspiring." Later on in the interview, he noted the "openness and honesty to what she does" in her work before adding, "She's saying, I have these values, but I'm also a human being, and I make mistakes, and sometimes I'm crazy and selfish and other times I'm loving and supportive."

The first big break for Judd Apatow

Among his many credits in Hollywood, Judd Apatow had to start somewhere. He linked up with actor Ben Stiller in the early '90s, who had made a name for himself in the sketch comedy world. In 1989, Stiller was on "Saturday Night Live" but left after four episodes and created his own series. A young Apatow, 25 at the time, joined "The Ben Stiller Show" for his first job in television. Apatow helped out with all 13 episodes. "I had no idea how to make a TV show," he recalled to NPR. "I was so stressed out I would sit in my room listening to self-help tapes and I would read Stephen Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective People.'" Despite the success of the series, which earned Stiller an Emmy for writing, Apatow revealed that part of him wanted out of his duties. "I was praying we would get canceled, because I was so tired," he admitted. The show got the chop after one season. "My dream, sadly, came true," said Apatow.

Not long after, Apatow once again had a chance to work with Stiller — this time, in a movie. The producer is credited for his work on the film "The Cable Guy," which Stiller directed. And for Apatow's series "Undeclared," he called upon Stiller for a cameo. As recapped by Screen Rant, the actor appeared on the small screen program, complete with a huge mustache and mullet.

Judd Apatow wasn't always behind the scenes

The first thing Judd Apatow had in mind as a career was to follow in footsteps of comedic legends like Jerry Seinfeld. "I only wanted to be a stand-up," Apatow told "Sunday Today" host Willie Geist. "I feel like I just made movies so I could get better spots at the Comedy Cellar." Evidently, that worked out rather well for him.

"I started doing stand-up senior year of high school, did it while I was in college," Apatow recounted. "Slowly I realized I can pay my rent if I write jokes for other comics. And that's how I began writing." Looking back, he said his lines on stage may not have been the best. "When I tried doing stand-up, all of my routines were pretty much about my failure to convince any woman to sleep with me," Apatow told The Guardian.

Years later, after he became a successful producer and director, Apatow decided to give live comedy another try. "Stand-up is what I love more than anything else," he told Vulture. "There's something fantastic about thinking of a joke in the shower and then doing it that night at the comedy club," he said. The producer said his work on stage helped improve the other projects he worked on, such as HBO's "Crashing," a series starring stand-up comedian Pete Holmes.

Cameos you may have missed in Judd Apatow's movies

One of the best things about Judd Apatow's films is, without a doubt, the special guest factor. The producer and director likes to bring many famous actors to make cameos in his various projects. And sometimes, he finds actors before their breakout roles. In Apatow's 2001 TV series "Undeclared," you'll likely recognize many familiar faces. Aside from a young Seth Rogen as one of the main characters, Amy Poehler and Jason Segal also had minor roles, according to Screen Rant. Will Ferrell also appeared throughout the series as a "college-essay writing townie," as did Busy Philipps, who played Rogen's on-screen girlfriend. And Jenna Fischer popped up in two different roles within the same show, prior to joining The Office.

Apatow has opened up about the significance of some of the cameos. Talking about some of the famous rappers who have appeared in his films on an episode of "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Apatow said, "RZA is in 'Funny People.' Ghostface Killah is in 'Walk Hard [The Dewey Cox Story].' And Method Man is in 'Trainwreck.' So I'm just working through the whole Wu-Tang Clan. It's my tribute to Staten Island over a career."

Even more, Apatow even briefly appeared in movies he helped produce, such as "Anchorman." In one scene, Apatow, who plays an employee at the fictional news station, leaves his desk when he's disgusted by the smell of Paul Rudd's character's cologne. 

How did Judd Apatow meet his wife Leslie Mann?

Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann have been married since 1997, putting them in the same company with other long-lasting Hollywood couples. As Apatow recounted to The Guardian, he first saw Mann when she was auditioning for a part in the Ben Stiller-helmed comedy The Cable Guy. According to Apatow, he later told Stiller, "That's so weird that the future Mrs Apatow just walked in the door and sat down next to me." Her personality is what drew him in. "She is very funny and she didn't carry herself like a beautiful woman," he remembered. The two wed and have been living a fairytale romance, even if he's still at times insecure. "I still feel like I'm on a first date with her — like she's going to climb out of the window," Apatow told the outlet.

Though Apatow has a natural gift for making people laugh, it doesn't mean he's free from awkward date stories. He confessed in an interview with "Today" that in the early days of dating his future wife, she called him out for being "a mouth starer."  

"She's like, 'Why are you looking at my mouth?'" Apatow recalled "I was like, 'So I can hear you.'" The producer, who was 27 years old at the time, hadn't given much thought to making eye contact in conversation. "No one's ever told me in my entire life that when you talk to people, you look them in the eye," he said. "I had not heard that."

Judd Apatow's daughters got an early start in showbiz

Judd Apatow has a gift of helping to launch the careers of many famous actors, like Steve Carell after "The 40 Year Old Virgin." And it appears he may have done the same for his daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow, who have landed small roles and cameos in his films Funny People, Knocked Up, and This is 40. "When I first started using my kids, it was just because I found them so amusing, and I prefer being around them to strangers' children," Judd told Awards Watch. After observing how his two girls interacted with others and made him laugh, Judd said that "it seemed natural to try to capture what I was seeing." The director explained that while filming, he would have several cameras rolling at the same time so he could "say something that might set off a fight and see if I could get it on film."

Both of Judd's daughters have gone on to lead successful acting careers. His youngest, Iris, had a recurring role in the rom-com series "Love" and was cast in her dad's movie "The Bubble." Maude has landed roles in movies like "Other People,' as well as buzzy TV shows "Euphoria" and "Hollywood." She also had a part in "The King of Staten Island," Judd's 2020 film starring Pete Davidson. "She was fantastic as Pete's sister because she finds a way like her mother, Leslie, to be both very raw and comedic at the same time," Judd shared with Awards Watch. "It's difficult to find people who can do that," the director said. And he added that as an adult, Maude is "a very experienced actress who is a part of our collaboration."

Judd Apatow lived with another future star

After finishing High School in Staten Island, Judd Apatow relocated to the opposite side of the country. As The Guardian noted, he attended the University of Southern California but ultimately dropped out to put all of his eggs in the comedy basket. However, as he told the outlet, seeing legends Jim Carrey and Robin Williams perform inspired him to change gears. "If you love comedy and you look at those guys, you know you're not as strong as them. So I figured I could make money instead writing for them," Apatow shared with The Guardian. But even more surprising than witnessing comedy greatness, was the legendary comic who lived under the same roof: Apatow and Adam Sandler were friends and roommates at the time. The future director and producer recalled it was sometimes difficult to be in such close proximity. "I remember one period when I was 21 and living with Adam and drinking a lot," he shared. "And I remember thinking, this is a drag that he's so much funnier than I am."

Long after both men established themselves in show business, Apatow called on his old roommate to the star of his film "Funny People," and the comedy is one of Sandler's best performances of his career. Here's a piece of trivia for you: Sandler told Howard Stern he even turned down a role in Quentin Tarantino's film "Inglourious Basterds" to be in Apatow's movie instead.

How much is Judd Apatow worth?

With a growing list of movies, TV series, and other projects, Judd Apatow continues to dominate the comedy scene in entertainment. Whether it's producing instant classics like "Bridesmaids" or directing films like "Knocked Up," he seems to know no limits. With his impressive resume, Celebrity Net Worth estimated Apatow was worth $150 million as of 2021.

With all this success, Apatow used part of his earnings to stay in breathtaking homes. Plus being married to Leslie Mann, a successful actor, means the couple have serious spending power. The two lived together in a stunning, "traditional 1930s beach house" located in Malibu, according to Architectural Digest. Then in 2015, Apatow and Mann listed the home for $12 million dollars, an increase from the $10.825 million they paid for the property in 2013. And this wasn't even the couple's primary residence. As the outlet noted, the two also owned "a five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, which they purchased for $18.25 million in 2009." On top of that, an empty lot in Santa Monica reportedly set them back $8.6 million.

Then, in 2018, the couple made headlines with another major purchase. According to Architectural Digest, Mann and Apatow purchased a $14.5 million penthouse in Santa Monica, only five miles away from their Brentwood mansion.