‘Ah! Kelly Clarkson!’: 18 Trivia Tidbits About ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ on Its 18th Anniversary

‘Ah! Kelly Clarkson!’: 18 Trivia Tidbits About ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ on Its 18th Anniversary

While movies at the turn of the century were mostly obsessed with teens aching to lose their virginities, Judd Apatow and Steve Carell seemingly thought, “What if the virgin was also a 40-something hairy guy who’s bad at foreplay?” The 40-Year-Old Virgin took that concept and squeezed every conceivable sex joke out of it while masquerading as a romantic comedy when it’s really just a movie about a bunch of friends wanting their pal to bone. 

On the anniversary of the one with the most famous waxing scene in cinematic history, read on about the making of Apatow’s directorial debut film and how one particular casting snub led to another famous 21st-century comedy…

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The Studio Shut Down the Movie for a Week Because They Were Creeped Out by Steve Carell

“We were actually shut down after the first week of shooting because the studio was freaking out,” Carell said, explaining that Universal had seen the first dailies and thought that Carell looked “like a serial killer.” The footage in question saw Carell “riding around on a bicycle” as well as “one scene where I’m like walking down the street, looking at images of, like, breasts and things and freaking out.” 

Carell and the filmmakers had to go and plead their case to the studio, and a “special editor” was brought in to make sure the cuts didn’t look like something out of Red Dragon. Which, you know, they still hilariously do.

Apatow Wanted Paul Rudd to Pick Up Weight for the Movie

Then again, Rudd said that Apatow wants Rudd to put on the pounds for most of the movies they do together. “It’s the opposite of what the studios normally want or what other directors want,” Rudd once said. “He (Apatow) always says, every time we work together, that he wants me to gain weight. He says, ‘I like a fat Rudd.’”

The studio, however, did not care for that particular directorial note and told the actor to shed the excess during the film’s brief shutdown period. Rudd, in response, decided to joke about it in the movie. “There’s a line in The 40-Year-Old Virgin when my character tells Steve Carell what it’s like to have your heart broken and how you’re constantly gaining and losing weight. I improvised that line because, before we started shooting the movie, I took Judd’s request to put on weight maybe a little too far. And the studio said, ‘You’re a fat ass. Lose some weight.’”

Leslie Mann Made Her Own Fake Vomit

Not only did Mann’s husband Apatow reveal that she wrote her big scene — “I actually had a whole different ending” — but she also made her own fake vomit to go with it. Originally, Apatow wanted her to pull out a gun when her character, Nicky, gets pulled over by cops for drunk driving. “And Leslie said to me, ‘No, I really think I need to throw up in his face,’” the director said. “And then she went off and made her own vomit out of strawberry yogurt and some sort of breakfast cereal. And it turned out to be one of the biggest laughs of the movie.”

Carell Opted NOT to Make That Wax Scene Any Less Painful

By now, most know that the woman doing the waxing in that infamous scene was not a professional waxer as she originally claimed. However, lost in that is Carell’s refusal to make things more comfortable for himself. According to Carell, the women on set (who obviously knew what they were talking about) advised him to trim down his chest hair and take an Advil to lessen the pain, but no, Carell thought it best to go full-method for the cringe scene, which had five cameras set up to get it all in one take. 

“About five seconds before they started to rip, I thought, ‘This is the worst idea I ever had in my life,’” he has remembered. “And you can see in the clip that everyone on the set is laughing. The three guys behind me, the woman who’s doing it, are in hysterics because I’m in excruciating pain — and I’m not acting, once again! This is not something you could replicate.”

Jane Lynch’s Role Was Written for a Man

Lynch plays Paula, Andy’s boss at the Smart Tech store, who offers to deflower him when she learns about his dry adult years. Lynch told Access Hollywood that Paula was initially written as a guy and that Carell “advocated for me and said, ‘We should bring Jane in for this.’” Lynch added that everything they improvised during her audition ended up in the movie.

The One Mother-Daughter Scene That Felt Very Real to Catherine Keener

Keener, who played Trish and the eventual woman who successfully deflowers Andy, said that the scene with her daughter Marla (played by Kat Dennings) was so heavily improvised that she ended up saying something out-of-character that made it into the movie. As Keener wrote in The New York Times Magazine, “Kat’s character is in the bathroom, crying, and I’m outside the door with Steve. Kat was just screaming at me — cursing and yelling and calling me all kinds of names that were not in the script. I was thrown, and I turned to Steve, and I said, ‘I don’t know what she’s talking about.’ Even though it was improvised, Judd kept that line in the movie — I clearly sounded like a frustrated mom, and it was all due to Kat’s rant.”

Dennings Says That the Planned Parenthood Scene Shows How Much She Was Trying Not to Laugh

Dennings said it was hard not to laugh while shooting the movie and had to keep pinching herself to keep a straight face. She revealed that she was incorporating said pinches whenever one of her hands disappeared from view during the Family Health Clinic scene.

The Movie Originated from an Idea Carell Had While Working at Second City

While part of the Second City comedy troupe, Carell developed a sketch that eventually became the basis of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. “The idea that I had was a group of guys playing poker and just regaling each other with stories of sexual conquest,” Carell has explained, “and one guy who clearly didn’t have a frame of reference and was trying to keep up with these stories.”

Jason Segel Almost Starred in the Movie

If it had been up to Apatow, Segel would’ve been cast as one of Andy’s buddies in the movie. However, Universal nixed the idea and refused to give him a supporting role. Segel shared that the depressing rejection would lead to Apatow giving him some life-altering advice — “He (Apatow) said to me: ‘You’re kind of a weird dude. The only way you’re going to make it is if you start writing your own material.’” This, of course, led to Segel penning his comedy hit, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Apatow and the Cast Wanted to Make a Movie That Featured Realistic Banter Between Friends

While The 40-Year-Old Virgin is mainly about a guy who hasn’t had sex yet, it’s also very much about friendship and the proverbial “bromance.” Apatow told IGN during an interview that it was great letting the actors improvise because “I can’t write the way Romany (Malco) and Seth (Rogen) talk. So, these weird phrases — just the color in the language — I just can’t do it, and I would be embarrassed to try.”

Malco, who played Andy’s buddy Jay, added that it felt good using his own way of talking, seeing it as postitive representation. “I always felt very misrepresented when I watched television,” Malco explained, “I don’t want to say too much, but even some of the people we’ve considered self-appointed leaders, at least in the communities I’ve come from, have always found… I’ve always been misrepresented in one extreme or another. And given the opportunity to actually have that realistic banter and the thought that go on and the soliloquies said out loud is kind of like a luxury.”

The Original Cut Was Way Raunchier (And Test Audiences Didn’t Like It)

Instead of the usual studio interference, test audiences wound up suggesting some of the movie’s graphic scenes be toned down. There was considerable audience silence when the original and much more elaborate scene was tested when Andy fast-forwards a porno, and a scene in which Andy hears his elderly neighbors boink while the husband yells, “Don’t be lazy, girl!” was cut when it didn’t elicit much of a reaction.

Animals Were Harmed During the Making of This Movie

An unfortunate accident killed several exotic fish when someone shut off the electricity in the area where the aquarium was being held after filming them. As a result, the tank had no proper aeration, and the fish died. This led to the American Humane Association rating the film as “Monitored Unacceptable.”

Carell Delved into Case Studies to Prepare for the Role

To play the character who thinks boobs feel like bags of sand, Carell turned to case studies of middle-aged men who were also virgins. He found out “that these people were not unlike this guy. They’re not damaged or weird; they’re just people who, for one reason or another, missed out on opportunities and decided not to even try anymore.”

It Was Mindy Kaling’s First Movie Role

Kaling would end up having a banger year in 2005 as her movie debut and first TV appearance in The Office both dropped at once.

How Leslie Mann Prepared for Her Drunken Scene

Apatow told Tom Segura and Christina P. on their podcast, Your Mom’s House, that Mann hit a club with Rogen to get boozed up in preparation for her role — with Rogen recording so she could watch herself afterward. According to Apatow, her response was, “All these years, I thought I was being so cute, and it’s not cute at all.”

The Deepfake Featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone Going on a Speed Date As Seen in the Movie

Comedian and deepfaker Brian Monarch took the scene in which Mo Collins’ raunchy character, Gina, tells Andy during a speed date that she’s down to get back on the pogo stick and superimposed the two action icons into the sequence.

Carell Got Ripped for the Part

“We had this joke early on that he (Andy) worked out a lot because he had a lot of extra energy because he didn’t have a lot of sex,” Apatow has said. “Steve took it very seriously and lost 30 pounds and started working out, and he was ripped, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m working with Joe Piscopo.’ And I was nervous about it because I don’t think comedians wanting to look good is ever good for comedy. But it actually makes it work better because there is no reason he’s not a virgin other than the fact he’s shy and nervous and let it get past him.”

Thank Garry Shandling for the Movie’s Ending

Apatow and Shandling worked together writing for The Larry Sanders Show, and the late comedian was the one who led Apatow and Carell to throw in a musical number for the movie’s big finale. As Apatow explained it, “Garry Shandling kept saying to Steve Carell and I, ‘You need to find a way to show that his sex is better than his friend’s sex because he’s truly in love.’ And he kept saying, ‘You’ve got to figure out a way to show that!’ And I’m like, ‘Garry, I can’t show the sex; I don’t know how to do this ending.’ One day Steve just went, ‘What if I just sing a song?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, like ‘Let the Sunshine In.’ And we said,’ Oh, that sounds good!’”

Apatow went on to say that the scene was a smash hit with test audiences. “We would test the movie, and the place would explode,” he remembers. “It would explode when Steve started singing. It’s one of those magical things; you don’t know why it works, and it makes people laugh, and it’s probably the only time you’ll ever see Seth Rogen dance like that.”


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