Judd Apatow says he's the 'anti-David Fincher'

Judd Apatow says he uses the 'anti-David Fincher' directing style

Judd Apatow and Jason Bateman sat down together for a deep-cut, long-ranging conversation about directing for the latest episode of Variety's "Directors on Directors" series. It was mostly a loving affair filled with gems for filmmakers and movie-lovers, but there was one line in particular that stood out.

Apatow came clean as the "anti-David Fincher," though he is a fan of the director and producer's 2007 film Zodiac starring Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo:

Apatow continued, including perspective on acclaimed filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen: "For me, I'm working in a reverse way, which is I want it to be so loose and so immediate that something else happens. I never have a version of the scene in my head that I'm hoping they get to ever. When I see a Coen Brothers movie, and people are like, 'They have storyboards for the whole thing, and they don't change one comma.' Nothing would break me faster than if you told me I had to make a movie and not change everything constantly. I don't believe in myself that way."

The 53-year-old director, producer and screenwriter recently saw his loose style pay off in 2020's The King of Staten Island, a comedy-drama based loosely on Pete Davidson's life that placed the 27-year-old comedian as the lead, as told on Russell Brand's Under the Skin podcast last June (h/t Page Six):

"There’s a moment in The King Of Staten Island where Pete says to his mom, ‘I’m sorry I’ve been so hard to handle.’ And she’s been worried about him his whole life … [that he is] not going to hurt himself. And then Pete, without pause, added—and it’s not in the script—he goes, ‘I think it’s always going to be hard.’ And it was the most truthful moment in the entire movie. In fact, the movie kind of doesn’t work if he doesn’t say that, but I didn’t write it. He didn’t write it. It just landed in one take … he only said it once. And it’s the entire reason why we made the movie.”

Apatow has brought to life several cornerstones in the modern-day comedic zeitgeist such as Anchorman (2004), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Step Brothers (2008) and Bridesmaids (2011). He has also been a tastemaker on television through HBO's Girls (2012-17) and Netflix's Love (2016-18).

Fincher, meanwhile, has been equally successful despite following an opposing method. The two-time Oscar-nominated director has an extensive filmography, but he is especially known for his work on Seven (1995), Panic Room (2002), The Social Network (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and Gone Girl (2014). On the smaller screen, Fincher was the executive producer on Netflix's groundbreaking original series House of Cards (2013-18).

Megan Armstrong (@megankarmstrong) is a writer with previous work appearing in places such as Billboard, Bleacher Report, GQ and others. She's most interested in writing about people and how they live their lives, through the framework of music, entertainment and sports.

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