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Knocked Up - Leslie Mann interview

Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann in Knocked Up

Interview by Rob Carnevale

LESLIE Mann talks about working with her husband, Judd Apatow, and children on Knocked Up, and how her daughters coped with the challenge of appearing in their first movie!

She also reveals why her husband’s sudden success feels like it’s been a long time in coming, as well as why co-star and on-screen sister Katherine Heigl was so easy to get along with…

Q. Both Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd have said that filming Knocked Up was a bit like working in a family environment. So, I guess for you that’s doubly true – being married to the director and working with your children…
Leslie Mann: It was, it was so much fun because I’ve known them all for so long. And we filmed close to home, so we could go home for lunch if we wanted. Stuff like that…

Q. Did it feel like a nice comfort zone?
Leslie Mann: It did. After I had kids I began to think: “How am I going to bring my kids to like a Jerry Bruckheimer set?” They definitely wouldn’t be welcome there. So, this is the perfect situation for me. It would be weird if I brought my kids to hang out with the macho guys on some of those other sets [laughs].

Q. Judd has admitted that you needed a little bit of convincing to put your children in the film?
Leslie Mann: I did. If you have E! Television here, you see a lot of stories about child stars and what happens to them and it’s bleak. You don’t want to expose them to too much at too early an age. I wanted to protect them a little more from all that. The only reason I agreed to do it was because we’ve known everyone for so long and I knew what the environment would be. I would never put them into some other person’s movie… ever.

Q. Did they enjoy the experience?
Leslie Mann: They did! They had fun. It worked out really well. They were so natural and Maude was so good. She was just watching everyone do it and then it came her turn to do that scene “where babies come from” and she had two cameras on her and 40 people from the crew watching her but she just started improvising. She was as calm as could be and was so funny. It was a very proud moment for me. I thought: “Wow, that’s impressive!” She was only eight, so to be able to do that in front of all those people and be confident enough to improvise was great because it must have been scary. But that’s where she thinks babies really do come from!

Q. Has she caught the acting bug?
Leslie Mann: Well, she loves to watch theatre and musicals. I don’t know if she wants to do it herself. But she’ll have to wait… unless Judd can manipulate me into agreeing to it again [laughs].

Q. You’ve been working with these people for some time but it’s only recently exploded with the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and [the forthcoming] Superbad. What’s that felt like to you?
Leslie Mann: Well, it doesn’t feel like it’s happened so fast. Judd started out doing some movies that didn’t do so well – we met on The Cable Guy, which didn’t do well even though I think it’s great. And then he did some TV shows that were critically acclaimed but they all got cancelled. It was a lot of years of that. But we never thought: “Oh, maybe we should do something else…” It always felt like we were moving forward and that he was just getting better and better. I don’t know why that is because in retrospect he was a failure [laughs]! But he didn’t feel like it at the time!

Virgin was a couple of years ago, so it doesn’t feel like it’s happened so fast on our end. Now, at this very moment when we’re doing press for two movies at once it’s kind of confusing. So I guess this particular moment is a little weird. But other than that it doesn’t feel so sudden. I think it will, because there’s a lot coming up.

Q. And I guess the expectation is now higher with each new film, which brings more pressure?
Leslie Mann: I think so – and I honestly don’t know how those other movies are going to turn out. I know I loved Knocked Up and I’m very proud of it, and I know Superbad rocks, so that’s good! I just hope the other ones are good.

Q. You play more of a straight role in Knocked Up compared to what you did in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Was that satisfying or did you get involved in some of the more bawdy stuff?
Leslie Mann: No, I never want to be involved in the more bawdy stuff. That’s not what I love to do. The more honest it is, that’s where the funny part is. That’s my kind of sense of humour, or what I look for in a movie. I appreciate some of the more rude stuff but I don’t think I could get away with it.

Q. How did you go about building a convincing chemistry between yourself and your on-screen sister, Katherine Heigl?
Leslie Mann: I just really like her. We really liked one another and it wasn’t difficult to create chemistry. When she walked in the door, they’d probably read every actress in that age range in town and she walked in towards the end – because she was busy with Grey’s Anatomy – and we were just like popping the champagne bottles so excited because she’s… Seth is like a big, loud character and all of the women just seemed to small and in danger next to him! But she was able to stand up to him and had strength. She was also really funny and happens to be really good looking, which doesn’t hurt. We had great chemistry right off the bat.

Q. Did you find yourselves hanging out a lot on the set to get away from the boys?
Leslie Mann: We did! All the dirty boys were talking about porn and bongs all day, so sometimes it gets a little bit much. Katherine and I would go into my trailer and talk, while the boys would go and play Air Guitar Heroes in their trailer and then we’d meet up back on set so we didn’t get tired of each other. It worked out.

Read our review of Knocked Up

Read our interview with Paul Rudd