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Arts & Entertainment


Judd Apatow

Lesson time 7:37 min

Casting is key in bringing a character to life. Judd explains his process for finding the right actors and conducting auditions in a way that encourages improvisation and collaboration.

Judd Apatow
Teaches Comedy
Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.
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If it seems like we're going to make the movie, my approach is to try to cast it as early as possible. A lot of times, people cast a movie in the last couple of weeks before they shoot the movie. Sometimes they're casting the movie as they're shooting. But I always feel like if I could cast the movie six months before I shoot, then during those six months, I can be doing table reads and rehearsals. The actors and actresses can become friends. I remember I did a TV pilot with Jason Segel and Kevin Hart, and I made them live together for a week so they could figure out what their dynamic was. And so you know, when we were working on Trainwreck, when we hired Bill Hader to play the part, you know, we made sure that there was enough time for Amy and Bill to become friends and to hang out and figure out, hey, if we liked each other, why would we like each other? What is our chemistry-- not just as the characters we've written but also just in real life? How do we relate to each other? So to do things early is always very, very helpful. I'm not really sure there's a way to explain how to decide who to cast. For me, I just have an immediate reaction. Oh, I like that person. I want to know more about that person. I'd like to spend time with that person. But it really is as simple as, do I want to see that person? You know, sometimes you see a movie, and there's someone as a small part, and you say, I wish the whole movie was about that woman. I wish she just left this scene, and the movie was her life. And that's really what casting is. Sometimes someone comes in, and you don't know why, and you just think, I can watch that person all day. And you know, we've felt that, you know, about a lot of people. I remember when Jason Segel came in, and he auditioned for Freaks and Geeks, and he was 18 years old. And he did a scene that Paul wrote, which was him describing his drum kit and his dreams. And we just fell in love with him instantly. And you know, we didn't know why, but he was very open-hearted and sweet. And there was also a sense of, you know, he had a puppy dog expression. You also feel like you could hurt him. And at the same time, you'd enjoy seeing him get hurt, if that makes any sense. Because some people are nice, and you enjoy beating them up in movies and then seeing how they deal with it and then how they triumph over that. Ben Stiller is like that. For some reason, people like to see bad things happen to Ben and to see how he gets through it and then ultimately wins. And we had that feeling about Jason. But it's that-- you know, it's different for every person. When we met Emma Stone on Superbad, I think we thought she was a great actress. She's the most likable person I've ever seen, and she also seems smart and funny and the type of person who, in high school, would like Jonah. She would be able to see that beneath all of his bluster was a great guy, and that made us love her that she would know tha...

Get serious about comedy

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

A week after finishing this hilarious and honest class, I have finished my first script. He helped me find a switch that opened a creative floodgate.

I learned so much about the writing process and who to surround yourself with.

Judd Apatow is the Man!!!! As a lifelong learner of how to get to the funny and keep it rolling I would just like to give my Utmost Respect Sir .

I learned more about storytelling in film than I did about comedy. It seems that the key to being a good comedy writer is just being a good writer.



Good casting is as important as a well written script. When I watch a film a second time, it is almost always for the performances.

Jacob G.

That's really great! I was always kind of "afraid" to be casting too "early", but Judd's process just matched my thoughts about it. Thank you for another great class!

Günter B.

When listening to Judd Apatow talk about his casting process you realize that for him the finished script is just a take-off point, like an invitation to a party, and the success of that party depends on the personalities of your guests, the dynamics they create, their chemistry, during the rehearsals the script is written a second and maybe a third time, and like Judd said, the writing never stops until the camera stops.


Great once I was directing a Christmas drama skit and a few people came to audition for it so after the audition I went in to an office with the producer to discuss who to cast in the skit

Andre L.

Absolutely Love this lesson Judd! Thanks a trillion! So inspiring to know that sometimes, you can just shake off that hellish nervosity (is that a word?), and be yourself at an audition, and still make it happen...

Maureen K.

Very great lesson. I liked the audition part. Would have liked to see the audition of Melissa McCarthy as well...

Amy J.

Several things to consider while casting for a character match up. or the idea of a solid character playing an important role. In my writing material, I wrote a character , he is sexy, athletic, , speaks with confidence, posture is on point, The man is a fondue fountain of chocolate swag, He spoke and my glass of milk poured itself.


It was helpful how Judd Apatow described the process of fitting the script to the actor, and the element of co-creation between the writer and the actor's gifts. This is another aspect of revision.

Renee` G.

I learned so much from this lesson about casting and genuinity in a human being. A very simple, yet complex part of the casting to create a blockbuster film or television pilot! Thank you, Judd for your knowledge.

Kathy M.

I hadn't thought about the reality that casting is selecting someone you would like to hang out with ("follow out of the room") but it's true. He has to spend many months with these people. I bet that difficult actors are a pain and get fewer gigs.