LOS ANGELES–Jake Kasdan had worked with Judd Apatow on two television series, Freaks and Geeks and Un declared, and had gone on to direct the feature Orange County. So it made sense to Apatow that if he wasn't going to direct his latest project, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, it would be in good hands with Kasdan.
In an L.A. interview room, however, cowriter Apatow calls the film "the stupidest movie ever". That doesn't mean he doesn't like it, but unlike earlier movies that he has directed–including Wedding Crashers, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up–Walk Hard, which opens on December 21 in Vancouver, is a parody. It spoofs such recent biopics as Ray and Walk the Line, telling the story of a music "legend" (John C. Reilly).
Kasdan says that if you are going to parody something it's best if you have a respect for the type of work you are spoofing. "It takes so long to make parodies that if you didn't have some real affection for biopics, you would run out of interest. Judd and I run to biopics when they come out. I am a first-weekend guy for all the movies in this category because there is something very attractive to me about them. But if you do see everything that's been made in that large category, you see patterns. You see there are challenges to compressing someone's entire extraordinary life into a 90- to 100-minute Hollywood movie with a three-act structure. You can see that everyone starts to go to the same kind of devices. As a result, there are several similarities, including the fact that you keep liking the protagonists, even when they do things that are not likable. They usually have awful childhoods and everyone around them acts horribly all the time."
Although there may be similarities in Apatow and Kasdan's approach to comedy, they come from different backgrounds. Apatow started out as a dishwasher in a comedy club in order to learn about comedy from the ground up, and Kasdan was growing up with a father, Lawrence Kasdan, who was making classic films like Body Heat and The Big Chill. Kasdan says Apatow saw something in him when he was younger (25) that inspired him to hire Kasdan to direct episodes of Freaks and Geeks and, later, Undeclared.
"We do have slightly different sensibilities, because I grew up around movies and screenwriting. But we have worked together a lot. He has been a big influence on me, and we have a lot of commonality in terms of what kinds of things make us laugh. We may come to it from a different point of view. He is a lifelong comedy fan and showed up in Hollywood with the intention of being a comedy writer and performer. He is definitely someone whose primary thing is joke-writing, and it has extended and grown, but that is where his foundation is and it works well for him."