Paul Rudd Tried Ruining a ‘This Is 40’ Scene out of Fear It Would Upset a Former ‘Friends’ Actor

Paul Rudd joined with director Judd Apatow for the comedy feature This Is 40. And although Rudd is no stranger to raunchy humor, there was one line in This Is 40 he tried shying away from saying. If only because he feared it would anger a former Friends star who Rudd was good friends with.

Paul Rudd found a lot of scenes in ‘This Is 40’ embarrassing

Paul Rudd at Comic-Con.
Paul Rudd | Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

This Is 40 was Apatow’s semi-sequel to his hit comedy film Knocked Up. The movie followed a couple portrayed by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as they grappled with their marriage and the realities of getting older. Doing the movie meant that Rudd had to do many scenes that were lacking in dignity. But Rudd felt dignity was the price that sometimes had to be paid for the sake of good comedy.


“It was embarrassing to do a lot of those scenes,” Rudd once said in an interview with Jewish Journal. “Look, I’m sitting on the toilet playing Internet Scrabble; I’m getting a hemorrhoid looked at – none of these things are fun to film. But if you’re going to try and make something comedic, you’ve got to throw vanity to the wind. I would never do those kinds of scenes just for the shock value, or if it wasn’t conducive to the story and the character.”

Rudd felt that the scenes they did only helped add to the authenticity of the movie’s relationship.

“Judd had said, ‘Let’s make a movie about marriage and the things that we fight about – kind of a real, warts and all view of it.’ And sometimes you do need to ask your wife if there’s something on your [backside],” Rudd added.

Paul Rudd once tried nixing a ‘This Is 40’ scene for the sake of this ‘Friends’ actor

Rudd may have been willing to embarrass himself for the comedy film. But he was a bit weary about embarrassing others. In a 2013 interview with Shortlist (via Contact Music), Rudd revealed that Apatow allowed for a lot improvisation on set. But one instance of improvisation led Rudd to say something targeted at a former Friends star that he was uncomfortable with.

“Sometimes [producer] Judd [Apatow] will yell out lines for me to say during filming and I never filter anything – I just repeat what he says,” Rudd said. “There’s one scene in the movie where he yelled out this comment for me to say about David Schwimmer. I thought it was funny but Schwimmer is a friend of mine and I don’t want to say anything that would make him mad.”

Although Rudd agreed to say the line, he intentionally tried to sabotage the scene upon doing so.

“So I laughed when I said the line because I thought that would ruin the take and it wouldn’t get used. When they asked me to do it again I said no, but then they ended up using that take in the movie,” he explained.

But Rudd made sure to check up on his friend after saying the line to make sure there weren’t any hard feelings.

“I’ve sent him an email. He hasn’t responded yet. I sure hope he does because I’m not kidding, I will lose sleep if he’s upset about this in any way. He’s a great guy,” he added.

Judd Apatow wasn’t trying to make fun of David Schwimmer in ‘This Is 40’

Despite Rudd’s reservations, Apatow claimed he wasn’t making fun of Schwimmer at all. If anything, Apatow believed the line used in the movie was more of a shot at himself.

“I wasn’t trying to make fun of David Schwimmer. I was trying to make fun of myself. So he’s saying I don’t F like Prince. I F like David Schwimmer,” Apatow once said in an interview with Chicago Tribune.

But Apatow did confirm that Rudd tried as much as he could to make sure the line wouldn’t be used in This Is 40. Like changing the lines in the scene.

“Which he thought meant I wouldn’t use it because Paul was in Friends. So he kept trying to change it so I wouldn’t use it. I did think that represented a certain point of view that it’s just a goofy Jewish guy. Like ‘I have sex like goofy Jewish guys, not like the greatest pop artist of all time,’” Apatow added.

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