Making “This Is 40” was a family affair for Leslie Mann: Her husband Judd Apatow wrote and directed and their daughters Maude and Iris play her daughters on screen. They even filmed it in their own neighborhood.
While the film was conceived as a sort-of-sequel to “Knocked Up” — both Mann and Paul Rudd play the same characters they played in that 2007 comedy hit — “This Is 40” stands on its own as an alternately raunchy and tender look at love, marriage and the ups and downs of getting older together.
In anticipation of today’s release of “This Is 40” on DVD and Blu-ray, we spoke with Mann about working on the film, guest starring on her husband’s buzzed-about show “Girls” and possibly returning to ABC’s “Modern Family.”
It feels like this movie must be special for you because it’s so connected to your life. Does that make it more exciting for people to see or are you also a little nervous about what it might reveal?
Leslie Mann: It doesn’t really feel like that to me. When I watch it I don’t feel like I’m watching my family or what goes on at my house. By the time it winds up on film it’s like a soup of so many different things and observations and people’s relationships. A little bit of our relationship, a little bit of Paul Rudd’s, a little bit of my best friend’s, a little bit of my mom’s — it’s not just me or my family. So I don’t feel uncomfortable with that. I’m really proud of it and I’m really proud of everyone in it. I want people to see it because of that.
I’ve heard there are quite a few deleted scenes on the DVD. Was there anything that didn’t make it in the movie that you’re really excited for people to see?
There are a lot of deleted scenes but I don’t know what [exactly]. I wasn’t a part of that. Maybe the extended version of Melissa [McCarthy] ranting [in the principal’s office], which she did for a very long time. That would be fun to watch over and over again. I’m not sure what else is on there but I’m sure it’s good. Judd really cares about that stuff and wants it to be good. He’s been working on the DVD extras for a year and a half now.
Did everyone in the cast have the freedom to improvise, including your daughters?
Judd started as a stand-up comedian and he’s the writer so he does something most people don’t do which is he rewrites as we’re rolling. He’s yelling out ideas and lines to us [during filming]. So it may have the energy of something being improvised and it is definitely being changed up, but it’s not really the actor just making s— up on the spot. If you have that going on at the end of the day the scene won’t make any sense at all. That’s what gives it the feeling of spontaneity. Sorry, hold on. [Yelling away from the phone] Judd leave! [Back on the phone] He keeps trying to eavesdrop. He’s hiding around the corner right now like a little mouse.
While we’re on the topic of your husband, you have some pretty intimate scenes with Paul Rudd in this movie. Is that more or less comfortable to do when your husband is directing? Do you feel like he can push you further because he knows you better?
Probably, yeah. That’s exactly right. And also Paul Rudd feels like my brother. He’s not threatened at all by him. It was my idea to have one boob sticking out [during a scene with Rudd], it wasn’t Judd’s idea. So I probably feel more comfortable with [Judd] and he feels more comfortable telling me to do things. It goes both ways. He’s not going to hold back and worry I’ll be offended. I don’t think he cares. We’re all so comfortable with each other, it doesn’t feel sexy.
Judd is also getting a lot of attention right now as the executive producer of HBO’s “Girls.” Have you talked to him or Lena Dunham at all about possibly guest starring on the show? Would you be interested in it?
It is something I’d be interested in doing. I would love to be on that show. It’s so good and it just keeps getting better. I don’t know what I would do. We’d have to come up with something.
Is there a particular character you’d really like to interact with?
Lena. And Adam Driver. Adam Driver! He’s so cute.
And a little extreme at times.
That’s just perfect! [laughs] It really is.
You were also really great on “Modern Family.” Is there any chance you might be back on that show some time?
Thank you! I don’t know. That’s the greatest job ever, they have the best schedule. I couldn’t believe it. They work from like 8 until 2 and maybe two days a week because it’s an ensemble. I’d love to [go back], it was super fun.