With "This Is 40," Apatow had Mann, his real-life wife, and their two daughters Maude and Iris, reprise their "Knocked Up" roles alongside Paul Rudd for a "sort-of sequel" about the lovably dysfunctional family coping with the mid-life milestone. And because of the casting, many people assume the film is essentially a big-budget dramatization of what happens in the Apatow household. But Mann would argue that couldn't be further from the case when it comes to Debbie and Pete.
With "This Is 40" set for Blu-Ray/DVD release tomorrow, Moviefone spoke to Mann about working with the ageless Paul Rudd, her newfound aversion to yelling, and the only way she would return to play Debbie for a third time.
Moviefone: Am I at the beginning of a long day of press, or somewhere in the middle? Leslie Mann: You're the first one. So you'd better make it good.
Nice, so I get to ask you the same questions as everybody else, but I get to do it first. I guess I'm going to start with my most hard-hitting question then... "What was it like working with your children?" [Laughs] "Now, how was it working with Judd? And does it feel like..." [Laughs] I could run them all for you right now, if you want.
I was planning on getting to those later. What I wanted to ask was, does Paul Rudd have a portrait of himself that's aging in his attic somewhere, like Dorian Gray? It's like he's aging backwards, it's so weird. [Laughs] I know, he looks really good, doesn't he? It's crazy. I don't know what's happening, and we're all aging around him. That's where you're supposed to say, "No, you look like you're aging backwards too."
That was my follow-up question. Was it easy getting back into it with Paul? Yeah, it was super easy. We're very comfortable with each other, he's like my brother. We had a lot of time to rehearse together and just talk everything through. And you know, we see Paul and his wife Julie all the time. So yeah, it was really comfortable and easy.
At what point did you start to think there was enough to Debbie and Pete to continue their story with a spin-off? Well of course there would be. But I guess when Judd said to me that he wanted to make a movie about the characters from "Knocked Up," Pete and Debbie. And then it was like we couldn't stop talking about it. We had endless ideas and stories and it was just fun to talk about. For years, we had so much fun talking about it. So that's how we knew that there's more to say.
When you're making a movie with your family like this, does that development stage just sort of stretch 24/7, or do you try and set barriers between family time and work time? No, for some reason, we don't. Well, because it's so fun to talk about, and it's fun for the girls too. And you know, we're doing what we love doing, so it's not like a job, where we're not having a good time talking about it. We're actually enjoying ourselves. So it was fun, because we're always working on something, but it's working on the thing that we love doing. So, yeah, we didn't have any boundaries with work and then family time, it all bled together.
Is it more fun working with your kids now that they're a little older? It was. I mean, it was fun when they were little also, but now it seems like Maude understands acting on a different level. Before, she just kind of did what we told her to do, and now this time around, she really she wanted to do a good job and cared about learning about it, and doing the best she could. So that was fun to watch. And then watching her kick ass was fun, really fun. And Iris is so funny, so yeah, it's fun to watch them grow and be such great little actresses.
What's more cathartic for you -- getting to fake yell at your own kids, or getting to yell at someone else's kid? [Laughs] You know what? I don't like yelling, so neither one feels good. It gives me pressure in my head. But I don't like it. I used to like it, I used to feel a little sense of relief or release after yelling at someone, but now it just hurts my head, so neither. I don't like yelling, period.
But you're so good at it. Why do you think you end up having to yell in these movies so much then? Am I yelling a lot? Tell me where I yell, and I'll tell you why.
Well, obviously you're yelling at the kid, Joseph. That's not really yelling yelling ... well, because it's funny. That's what people dream about doing, when somebody's mean to your child. Parents fantasize about going up to that kid who's mean to their child and telling them to f**k off. That's the truth. And every parent will tell you that they wish that they could tell off the bully. So that's just like a fantasy. And it's funny, people love that. So people can live vicariously through Debbie in that scene. [Laughs]
Do you think people overstate the autobiographical element of the movie just because you and your kids are in it? Yeah, definitely. But I've realized that no matter what I say, people kind of have their own opinion about it, and their opinion doesn't usually change. They're going to think what they think and it's fine. It doesn't really bother me. It did at first, because I watched the movie, and I don't feel like it's my life at all. I think there are similarities just in the way that every couple who's been together for a long time or who have children, they struggle with a lot of the same things that Pete and Debbie are struggling with. But I think we took it to the extreme for the movie, or I guess comedy's sake, and so then it's not really my life at all. I can relate to some of the ideas, but no, it doesn't feel autobiographical. This is definitely fictional. [Laughs]
Would you have any interest in checking back in with this family in another five or 10 years, or are you done with Debbie and Pete? I feel like I'm done with Debbie and Pete. Maybe if I divorce Pete and marry someone else, that could be interesting. [Laughs] But as of now, no, I'm good. We had fun, but yeah, not right now.
"This Is 40" will be available on Blu-Ray/DVD on March 22, 2013.