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THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN

About The Production
The idea for a comedic take on a sweet-natured but middle-aged virgin—who, through the well-meaning but misguided efforts of his co-workers, begins an unforgettable educational journey toward the goal of finally "doing it”—came from the artfully twisted mind of Steve Carell. Based in part on a sketch he created years ago while performing with the improvisational comedy troupe Second City, Carell continued to resurrect the idea over the years, trying out different scenarios for the 40 year-old man with a big secret. Perhaps best known for his sidesplitting appearances on Comedy

Central's The Daily Show and breakout performances in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman, the Second City alum knew he had an interesting premise in this unique middle-aged coming-of-age story.

Carell first met Judd Apatow, an award-winning comedy writer and television writer/producer, while filming the box office hit Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which Apatow produced. Carell, realizing they possessed similar comic sensibilities, shared his idea of the over-the-hill loner who remains a virgin at 40. At the time, Apatow was actively looking for a film project to direct and was charmed and excited about Carell's pitch.

"I always keep my eyes open for the next funny guy who can carry a movie,” recalls Apatow, "and it was very clear that Steve Carell was stealing scenes in Anchorman. So I just let him know if he had any ideas to let me know. He told me a few, all of which were very funny, but this one made me laugh the most.” Remarks Carell, "Judd Apatow is no novice. He has a really good eye for what potentially could work and what might not work. I was flattered that he took such an immediate interest in my idea, let alone wanted to team up with me and direct it.”

Apatow saw endless comedic potential in the project. In his mind, "40 year-old virgin” said it all. He in turn pitched the idea to Universal Pictures, where he was producing the Will Ferrell comedy Kicking & Screaming. The studio was very enthusiastic about the concept and gave the pair the go-ahead on the script. Apatow and Carell spent several months working effortlessly together fleshing out the idea. They soon had a cohesive, inherently funny story rife with bawdy gems that had readers laughing out loud…before a little self-imposed propriety kicked in.

Remarks Apatow, "I'm a big fan of all the R-rated movies of the late '70s and early '80s like The Jerk and Animal House. They weren't actually that dirty, but they didn't have the handcuffs on either, and it made for an unrestrained type of comedy. I wanted to set the stage to really have fun and not have any limits to what we could say or do. What that does for this movie is that it makes it feel real…if people can curse the way they do in life. It all feels a little more like life and a little less like a film. I think it served the story well…plus it was fun to write.”

Although a film titled The 40 Year-Old Virgin screams sex comedy, the pair made a concerted effort to balance the obvious sexual aspects of the material with compelling, grounded (along with some off-the-wall) characters. "Although The 40 Year-Old Virgin seems to be about finding a way to have sex,” observes Apatow, "it's really all about these people who are looking for the love of their lives and struggling to find happiness during this pursuit.” That formula gave Apatow and Carell more free reign in terms of where they went with the often outlandish bits.

The project's major appeal hinged on the boyishly handsome Carell, portraying the title character, and his ability to dissolve an audience into laughter with his myriad of facial expressions and innate physicality. This was coupled with his and Apatow's skill in locating the humor within both the mundane and the outrageous with equal measure and infusing that comedic sensibility throughout the story's various situations.

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