Over the past decade, we’ve grown well acquainted with Judd Apatow‘s improv-heavy, raunchy-sweet brand of comedy. But the filmmaker isn’t content to rest on his laurels. Instead, he’s considering branching out with a different type of project altogether.

In a recent profile, Apatow revealed his ambition to write a play about the criminal justice system. To make matters even more surprising, it may actually end up being a drama. More after the jump.

Apatow discussed his plans in an excellent interview with GQ.

“I have a great idea. Maybe like the best idea I’ve ever had,” he says. “It requires me to create characters and situations that have absolutely nothing to do with my experience.” When he reveals the idea, off the record, I can see what he means. The subject matter (all he’ll let me say about it is “It’s about victims of the criminal-justice system and the challenges they face”) is unlike anything he’s tackled before. It’s not remotely autobiographical. It’s complicated, relevant, political even. “I am excited to write something which has a social conscience,” he e-mails me later when I push him to reveal more. “That is not something I have attempted before, and I hope I am up for the challenge.”

At this point, Apatow isn’t sure whether or not it’ll be a comedy. ”I don’t know yet,” he said. “I think it will. But it might stop being funny.” If he goes the dramatic route, it’ll represent a big change of pace for him. Although some of Apatow’s works have veered into serious territory, nearly all of his credits are for comedies of one kind of another.

But why tell the story onstage rather than onscreen, where he has more experience? Apatow explained that he was inspired by a desire to connect with the audience in a different way. ”I’m noticing that I really wish there was another part of my relationship with the crowd,” he said. “I miss doing something where I’m interacting more with the audience. I like the idea of writing something and rewriting it every night based on how it’s playing.”

Since we’ve never seen Apatow tackle anything remotely like this, we can’t even begin to guess how it’ll turn out. Kudos to him for trying something new, though. With a little luck, maybe we’ll see his name lighting up the Great White Way in a couple of years.

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