Hollywood Film Awards 2012: Hollywood Comedy Award

Judd Apatow (Hollywood Comedy Award), whose new movie is the semi-autobiographical “This Is 40,” vividly remembers his own 40th birthday, five years ago. He relates a telling anecdote involving his wife, Leslie Mann.

“The day I turned 40 Leslie was shooting ’17 Again,’ doing a somewhat erotic slow dance with Zac Efron,” says Apatow. “That’s what I had to endure on my 40th birthday — a younger, more handsome man twirling my wife. That’s what we call ‘bottom.’ ”

Apatow’s new comedy, his first since 2009′s “Funny People,” continues the adventures of Paul Rudd’s Pete and Mann’s Debbie, first introduced in “Knocked Up.” Prominently featured are daughters Iris and Maude Apatow.

“This script was a real collaboration with Leslie. I show her a scene and she’ll counter with a scene that better represents Debbie’s point of view, and we’ll go back and forth like that for years.

“The movie bubbles up over years with hundreds of conversations over how we’re doing and we come up with this bizarre version that’s not ourselves but seems truthful and emotionally accurate.”

As for directing his kids, “It’s our summer camp. It’s very natural for us all to be together. If they didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t force it,” says Apatow, who filmed during the summer so his daughters wouldn’t miss school.

“None of it makes them nervous. They’ve been on a set since they were toddlers,” he notes. “They don’t feel it’s work. I look at our entire lives as one big improv anyway, we’re always winging it. And they have no sense of a movie coming out and it’s going to be judged. They don’t care if anyone likes it. It’s only if they had fun — and how soon they can go to crafts services.”

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