Judd Apatow and Steve Carell, ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’

The Nominees: Original Screenplay

The success of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” surely has something to do with how well the concept clicks with each of its writers. Carell, for instance, says he wasn’t a teenage Casanova. “I thought about how timid I was personally around the opposite sex,” he recalls, “and how I tried to appear as more knowledgeable than I actually was.”

Such memories are what prompted Carell, during his Second City days, to improvise a scene in which guys at a poker table trade sex stories, and Carell’s character can’t keep up. Many years later, when Carell started stealing scenes in the Apatow-produced “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” he was invited to pitch ideas. Carell brought up the poker scene, and it became the inciting incident for “Virgin.”

Having exec produced the TV show “Freaks and Geeks,” Apatow maintains an affinity for the latter breed. “They’re not the kids who are trying to lose their virginity,” he says. “They’re the kids who are terrified of kissing a girl.”