Variety's Creative Leadership Award: Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow’s virtual family keeps growing with “This Is 40.” Continuing the funnyman’s penchant for working with a regular troupe of comic actors, the coming “Knocked Up” follow-up reunites Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi and Paul Rudd, as well as Apatow’s real-life wife, Leslie Mann, and their two daughters, Maude and Iris. The cast also includes Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd from the Apatow-produced “Bridesmaids,” as well as Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s “Girls,” which Apatow executive produces.

“A movie like ‘This Is 40′ is very special because it’s a collaboration between me and Leslie and our entire family,” Apatow says of the film, which focuses on married couple Paul (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann). “The movie comes out of a conversation she and I have every several years about how we feel about how we’re doing and what we think we can do better. It’s a very intimate process of me and Leslie observing each other.”

If there was mentoring going on in “This Is 40,” Apatow says it came from Mann, who has inspired him for years: “I truly look at it like my wife has mentored me because she came from a very serious dramatic acting background, which was all about telling the truth and being vulnerable, and I came from sketch comedy and standup,” he says. “In order to write for her and win her, I had to go to a much deeper place, and that changed my work dramatically.”

He also credits his young daughters: “They’re willing to offer up very specific details of their feelings and behaviors for the movie,” he says. “It makes the movie much more intimate than if I hired a bunch of kids who don’t know each other and don’t know the people playing their parents.”

Variety’s Creative Leadership Award: Judd Apatow
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