Filming This Is 40 With Judd Apatow's Family Was A Little Weird For Paul Rudd

"This Is 40" isn't Judd Apatow's most popular film, but even a not-so-great Apatow movie usually isn't too bad. Arriving in 2012 near the tail end of Apatow's dominance, while the film's humor was still razor-sharp, it lacked the focus of the director's earlier efforts. But the pacing and runtime issues aside, "This Is 40" remains a charming ode to the challenges of a long-term marriage. Apatow returned to his Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) characters from 2007's "Knocked Up," and followed them as they crept into the quadragenarian territory. Throughout the course of the film, their struggles are depicted with an honesty that has characterized much of Apatow's movies but seems even more pointed here. Mostly because it's all based on his and Mann's real-life experiences as a married couple.

Together since they met on the set of 1996's "The Cable Guy" — and married since 1997 — Apatow and Mann had plenty of years of experience to draw from when working on "This Is 40." As Mann told Interview Magazine in 2012, before filming there was a "two-year conversation about the characters and about different things they might do, or might be feeling." During that time, the couple also reached out to friends and family for more relationship insights. All of which culminated in some strikingly accurate humor, with Rudd and Mann's effortless chemistry only adding to the feeling that you were watching a real couple. Apatow further contributed to that by casting his two daughters, Iris and Maude Apatow, as Pete and Debbie's kids. For Rudd, it felt a little awkward, as his job was to basically play out the director's marriage with his family every day.

Is this healthy?

These days, Paul Rudd is busy playing superhero and generally being the most likable man on the planet. But long before "Avengers: Endgame" and "Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania," Rudd was a regular Judd Apatow collaborator. That made shooting "This Is 40" a lot less awkward than it would have been otherwise. It was still a little weird. As Rudd told GQ:

"It was a weird feeling to do these scenes where I'm acting opposite his wife with his kids standing there and he's off, you know, filming it all [...] I kept trying to think, 'How are his children processing this? Is this healthy? Is what we're doing right now safe and good?'"

The 53-year-old actor has since had time to reflect on the film and considers it a "really fun experience." He added: "I had a great time working actually on all the movies with Judd. I think they've been really, really fun, and they're, as far as creatively, I think they're some of the most fulfilling creative experiences."

That seems to be the general feeling for both Apatow and Leslie Mann, too. The former told Vanity Fair in 2020, "Paul and Leslie always have such hilarious chemistry as a couple and I would get such a kick out of coming up with scenarios that would make us laugh."

This Is 40 sounds like it was actually therapeutic

Elsewhere, Leslie Mann was asked whether her husband gets jealous watching her with Paul Rudd. She told Interview Magazine: "No, he doesn't get jealous, and it's really weird. First of all, Paul and I are like brother and sister. I've done it with him, and Adam Sandler too, but it's never really serious. I think if we had mood lighting and it was a serious sex scene, then it might get awkward. But, it's just so goofy that I don't think he cares."

Judd Apatow once said (via ABC News) that he's "uncomfortable" watching Rudd play his wife's husband so often. But he doesn't mind the sex scenes because he knows "they don't enjoy it. So in a way, it's like torturing people by forcing them to make out."

Far from being unhealthy, it seems the whole process was — in a way — kind of therapeutic for Apatow and Mann. The director told Vanity Fair, "The most fun [thing] about movies like 'This Is 40' is working with Leslie. We collaborate on all the scenes and all the ideas. So we do get the chance to sit with each other and come up with comedic takes on these different situations that have driven each other crazy." In that sense, there's probably quite a cathartic benefit to going over all your marriage issues and making jokes out of them.

Talk of a sequel to "This Is 40" began brewing last year, with Apatow saying in March that he was "enthusiastic about putting ['This Is 50'] together." Nothing's been confirmed so far, but the director might soon get to force his wife to make out with Rudd again. In the meantime, the latter will be busy with "Ant-Man" and "Ghostbusters" duty.