Get 'Knocked Up' With Judd Apatow

New film set to make offbeat writer/director/producer a mainstream star.

ByABC News
May 31, 2007, 9:58 AM

May 31, 2007 — -- By the time their new comedy "Knocked Up" is released nationwide on June 1, Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen will have been working together on and off for more than eight years. But if you go by what Apatow told ABC's Joel Siegel, their relationship was love at first sight.

"He's 25 now. I met him when he was 16 years old," Apatow said of the young actor and star of his latest and most heavily anticipated film. "He's one of these freaks of nature. He came out of his mother's womb with a fully formed comic identity."

The trip from the placenta to Apatow's stable of talented comic actors was a little more complicated than they might admit, though still pretty linear.

Apatow hired Rogen after a single audition for the 1999 TV show "Freaks and Geeks." The show aired on NBC and became a cult hit, and like so many cult hits before, a ratings failure. It lasted just 15 episodes.

Today, with Rogen's silver screen star rising after a highly rated performance as Cal, one of Steve Carrell's buddies in 2005's "The 40 Year Old Virgin," the two are free to attack, with big studio-backing, any project they choose.

"One day [Rogen] came to my office. He was pitching me ideas. He wanted to do a big sci-fi comedy," Apatow said. "And I said, Seth, you don't need aliens and wizards to be funny. You could just get a girl pregnant That would be enough for a whole movie."

As it turns out, he was right. The stripped down plot summary for "Knocked Up" reads like this: Slacker impregnates girl during one-night stand. Comedy ensues.

The jokes in between are crude, naturally. Apatow says the studio urges him to earn his R-ratings. But it's Rogen's "sweet heart," he said, that "shines through in those scenes" and triggers such a positive response from audiences.

Not always so sweet, Apatow remembers, was the road to becoming the L.A. Times-proclaimed "Mayor of Comedy." That's the title of a feature story on Apatow's career the paper ran on May 13.

Apatow said the phrase, which was quoted from another comedian, makes him uneasy.

"I think the writer interviewed a comedian who said that as a joke, as if it were true, as if people call me that. And she wrote it as if it were true and now I'm stuck with it," he said. "It's just a terrible, terrible, practical joke. The only mayor I can think of is the mayor of Munchkin Land."