‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s’ Remarkably Ridiculous Shutdown

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It’s a classic and it’s the movie that launched Judd Apatow’s career and the careers of co-stars Steve Carrell, Seth Rogen, and Paul Rudd, but The 40-Year-Old Virgin almost didn’t get made. After two days of production, the bulk of which was spent on the famous speed-dating scene, Universal Studios shut the thing down until some changes could be made, according to Apatow in his new book Sick in the Head

Among the problems? Universal thought Apatow was lighting the movie “like an indie,” but more hilariously, Steve Carrell Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 11.58.43 AM“looked like a serial killer,” according to Apatow, and Leslie Mann – also a co-star in the movie and Apatow’s wife – said Universal thought Paul Rudd looked fat.

So they shut down for a little while. Carrell eased off the serial killer vibes for his character, the titular Andy Stitzer, and, Apatow said, became “low-energy, and everyone else was spinning around him.”

As for Rudd: “He literally stopped eating,” Mann said. “If you look at Paul Rudd in the speed-dating sequence compared to the rest, he’s, like, ten pounds heavier. Then in the rest of the movie his hair looks cute and he’s thinner.”

Over the long run, Apatow and Universal worked things out, the speed-dating scene stayed in, and, “Everything we shot in those first two days because some of the funniest stuff in the movie,” Apatow says.

Here’s that speed-dating scene. Be warned: There’s lots of language, so maybe don’t click play if you’re not into that sort of thing.

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