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BURBANK, California — When your first movie is “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” you’re doing pretty well for yourself. When you follow that with “Knocked Up,” you’re on one helluva hot streak. And when you spend your spare moments between those films producing “Pineapple Express” and “Superbad” and launching the careers of everyone from [url id="http://www.mtv.com/movies/person/262582/personmain.jhtml"]Seth Rogen[/url] to Jonah Hill to Paul Rudd you’re, well, [url id="http://www.mtv.com/movies/person/156614/personmain.jhtml"]Judd Apatow[/url].
Needless to say, all of Hollywood is waiting for July’s [url id="http://www.mtv.com/movies/movie/383434/moviemain.jhtml"]“Funny People,”[/url] the third Apatow directorial effort, which stars [url id="http://www.mtv.com/movies/person/55545/personmain.jhtml"]Adam Sandler[/url], Rogen, Hill and Eric Bana.
“I decided I wanted to make a movie about how hard it is to learn the lessons that are presented to you when you’re ill,” Apatow told MTV News. “This movie is about a very famous comedian who has a hard time getting wisdom from this situation and that’s where the comedy comes from.
“It’s a demented ‘Tuesdays with Morrie,’ if Morrie learned nothing,” he added with his characteristic laugh.
When we visited the set of the upcoming film, we found Rogen and Sandler confronting their nervousness over playing comedians.
“I got a text last night from old Seth over here [and it read,] ‘Going to do stand up; wanna punch Judd in the face,’ ” laughed Sandler, who plays stand-up comedian/ actor George Simmons in the flick. The crew had assembled at a studio in Burbank to perform live in front of an audience for the cameras. “We all hate Judd for this; this is not something you want to do.”
“That’s literally what I texted you,” agreed Rogen, cast in the film as a rookie stand-up named Ira Wright. “It feels like we’re living out some sick, perverse fantasy of Judd’s, more than anything. [It's like he's saying:] ‘I’ll make a bunch of my friends go do stand-up comedy.’ ”
“His character is supposed to be starting out,” Sandler said of Rogen, who really did begin as a stand-up comedian but quit at age 18 to become an actor. “He starts off [bombing], and then by the middle of the set, he’s crushing harder than me. And I’m like, ‘Shhh, do the bad stuff!’ ”
“I’m a naive guy who’s not really a cutthroat competitive type — which can hurt you a lot [in stand-up comedy],” Rogen said. “Adam’s a horribly jaded, amazingly bitter and mean guy.”
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“My character gets sick, and he is a lonely guy. He doesn’t have many friends,” Sandler explained. “He’s a big star, but he made some enemies over the years and didn’t keep in contact with a lot of people. So he’s kind of a lonely dude — and then he sees this guy doing stand-up, and he thinks he’s a funny kid. He wants people to talk to while he’s going through a tragedy in his life, and so he befriends Ira over here.”
“I kind of become his employee/ emotional outlet,” Rogen grinned.
So can the actors still make each other laugh on set? “Old Seth Rogen gave me some [jokes] — he gives me a gag a day,” Sandler said. “He gives me better endings of my jokes every time.”
“We’re very method about it,” Rogen said. “You really are mean to me, and I write jokes for you.”
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Check out everything we’ve got on “Funny People.”
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