By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures.
Superbad is an idea Judd Apatow cultivated long before he became a box office king. His friends Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote the script, and after The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Apatow had enough clout to produce it. After this summer, his latest movie Knocked Up already made it onto the Superbad poster.
Judd Apatow on Superbad
“Well, there was an original poster that didn't have Knocked Up on it,” Apatow aid. “[It was] just The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Talladega Nights. I'm running out of permutations of ‘That guy who brought you…’ It’s going to say Heavyweights in one of them.”
The script goes back to Apatow’s TV days. “At the time we were doing this TV show Undeclared. Seth was one of the stars and a writer. I kept noticing that Seth's scripts were among the best scripts that anybody was writing on the show, even though he was 18. So when he said he had a screenplay, obviously I was pumped about it. And it was hysterical. The first rough that I read was a riot. There was certainly work to be done but there was a real comic voice there that's still in the movie. That sense of humor never changed. We just tried to deepen it and have it make more sense. So it was exciting.
Even earlier permutations of Superbad sounded like comic gold. “We did a table read back then where Seth read the part of Seth and Jason Segal read Evan. We still have the tape of it. It was really funny then. We just couldn't convince anyone to make it because no one wants to make R rated comedies starring unknown teens. But Seth kept saying to me, ‘This is the kind of movie me and my friends wish somebody would make.’ I always believed that he was right and that if a movie was really uncensored it potentially could break through in a big way. So we're about to find out. We got close a few times to getting people to make it. They never thought there was a premise to sell. We thought the style a little bit was the premise.”
Director Greg Mottola was involved with those early table reads too, because he directed episodes of Undeclared. Apatow stuck by him too. “The thing that's exciting about this movie is that having the luck to get Greg Mottola to direct it is that Greg Mottola really shot a beautiful movie. Underneath all the dirtiness and bravado, it's actually a very sweet story about these guys panicking because high school is ending and they're not going to be able to be around each other anymore. I just feel like Mottola took this to a completely different level which is exactly what I had hoped, is that if you hire someone who is way out of our league, that he would work with what he does with us and come up with something that's actually meaningful. I'm most excited that when the movie ends, people cry and it's actually in addition to how raucous and disgusting it is at times, I actually think it's a sweet story that people are really connecting with.”
Early previews have already proven Apatow right. “[It gets] the biggest reaction of any movie I've ever been a part of. I've never seen anyone like it. I resent it on some levels. It makes Knocked Up seem so much less impressive that it's immediately followed by something like this. I was just alone in the valley there. It's really amazing. I was trying to think of movies that get laughs this big. You really have to look at some of the great movies like Airplane and Young Frankenstein. It's amazingly consistent and the only word I can use to describe it, because I've seen it with crowds a ton, is every single time the place goes shithouse. It's really, really gratifying to watch this movie play and to see them pull this off. I'm just proud of the fact that I didn't throw it in a drawer after failing to get it made for so many years. It's our Ghandi.”