While it took relatively little time or effort to get her character pregnant, taking actress Katherine Heigl through nine months of pregnancy was considerably more difficult. Starting with a plaster cast of the front side of her torso, Academy and Emmy Award-winning makeup effects artist Matthew Mungle sculpted three different molds - a three-month, a six-month and a nine-month belly - from which the foam latex appliances were made.
The bellies created for Heigl were comprised of a hollow, which was filled with poly foam and painted with an opaque look before the fine details were added. Explains Mungle, "That's where the artistry comes in... when you paint it with the freckles and the veins and make it look realistic." Attention was paid to every detail to ensure that it all looked accurate, down to the progression of the belly button.
While attaching and finishing the prosthetic look took about 45 minutes each day, the process was much simpler when scenes dictated that the belly stay under clothing. As Heigl explains: "They slap it on in 15 minutes with hospital-grade glue so it doesn't move an inch."
For the most part, the actress was unbothered by the whole process. There was one exception. "I had a scene in the bathtub with my nine-month belly, and it would fill up with water and then it would pull on my skin - it rippled my skin a little," she winces. "Other than that, I barely noticed it."
Knocked Up shot in and around Los Angeles over the summer months of 2006. In addition to locations in Brentwood, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Malibu and Reseda, the production spend a day filming at Knott's Berry Farm (during which a few of the cast vomited their way through a variety of rides) and a week in Northridge, California, during a record-setting heat wave with temperatures exceeding 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remembers Rogen of his time at Knott's Berry Farm: "It was disgusting and painful, but I got back on the roller coaster. I don't know if I'm a trouper, but I think I'm a trouper. And Jay, who is horrified of roller coasters, even got on once and had a full-blown anxiety attack on film. That will provide me with entertainment for the rest of my life."
The production shot its final two days in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino and at Cirque du Soleil's longest-running Vegas show, Mystere. The wildly colorful performances which incorporate music, theater, acrobatics and dance - all set to Cirque's signature, otherworldly musical accompaniment - provided a perfect backdrop for the story about a young man freaking out (with the help of magic mushrooms and a fed-up future brother-in-law) about the responsibilities of fatherhood.
Production designer Jeff Sage had previously collaborated with Apatow for both Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks. Of working on Knocked Up he notes, "Judd made several key points that would affect the overall look of the film. First and foremost was to strive for utter realism in the settings and décor; characters and their surroundings needed to be absolutely contemporary and believable or their story would feel made-up."
Sage notes that, for Apatow, "We need to be on the lookout for sites that would physically or visually offer him choices in telling a joke or building a comic sequence. Judd will happily rewrite a scene to take advantage of an idea he gets while scouting locations."
For example, in the opening sequences of Knocked Up, the writer / director showcases a montage of Ben and his roommates doing "Jackass-style battle." While this scene was in-line with earlier drafts of the scripts, the filmmaker knew he could flesh it out if his team found the perfect location for the flophouse. The house selected was one of more than 75 that were photographed and considered. This property featured a typical San Fernando Valley '40s ranch-style architecture that contrasted with the contemporary, upscale look of Alison's apartment / pool house on the lot of her sister Debbie's Brentwood home.
Ben's hovel would offer much comedy for the crew, and many discussions about the best use of space occurred. Originally conceived as a skateboard rink, Robertson, Townsend, Apatow and their team decided that it would be more humorous to have the slackers fight on a board, knocking each other into the pool.
The filmmakers needed to create the look of a diseased pool of water without subjecting the actors to dysentery, cholera, etc. The solution was to create the "slimy water" by painting the sides of the pool green. The bottom of the pool was painted darker and then faded to lighter tones as the swimmers came up the sides. Once filled with clean water (and gallons of instant tea for density), the pool took on the look of "an abandoned cesspit." That plus, floating leaves and detritus, did the trick.
Set decorator Chris Spellman provided the guys with a veritable adult playground - bikes, Ping-Pong, basketball, tetherball, a waterslide, bow range, bonfire pit, a pit for wrestling, volleyball and much more at their home. The construction department built bicycle jump ramps and changed a former horse shed into an impromptu stage for a rap video sequence - something that required reinforcing the small roof for the jumping antics of up to five men.
A dominant theme for the family room's look can be found in the work Ben and his friends do for their quasi-porn web site. Sage notes, "The design of a web site creates lots of extra information - ideas and sketches, proposals that weren't used, mechanicals of works-in-progress, etc. This gave us opportunity to load the walls and desktops with various 'fallout' (i.e., porn) from the ongoing project."
For the earthquake scene in Ben's bedroom, the designer notes, "We knew we had to film a scene where an earthquake occurs during the night, and this would require more than just shaking the camera. What was needed was an identical replica of the set we created in Ben's bedroom at the location, but build on a platform on a soundstage, where we could physically rattle and shake the room."
In contrast to the flat, horizontal house and its surrounding landscape, Alison lives in the upscale hills neighborhood of Brentwood. Her street is populated with a variety of stylish, substantial homes. The home of her sister and brother-in-law is a similarly substantial, contemporary two-story house, with well-kept yards in front and back. The pool behind is beautiful and sparkling clean, and it is bordered on one side by Alison's pool house.
Sage notes, "For the second floor of Debbie and Pete's house, a set was built on stage to match a location house. We struggled to figure out the staging of the scene where the two sisters take multiple pregnancy tests to make sure that Alison is indeed pregnant. After several proposals, we hit on just the right geography between the bedroom, master bath - with its multiple lavatories and sinks and the doors between - that would allow Judd to drive the physical hysteria of the scene."
With his cast members out of latex, off roller coasters and clean and dry from dips in filthy pools, Apatow takes a minute to reflect on the heart of Knocked Up and his thoughts on what makes for good comedy and good relationship films. For him, it's not about slapstick or cloying drama; it's about something much more powerful.
The filmmaker summarizes: "In as lot of ways, Knocked Up is a more sophisticated type of story than my last film. At the heart of it is the idea about family and the sacrifices you make to have children. It's also about how hard it is for couples to get along through stressful times. And it's, hopefully, ultimately an uplifting movie about love and people trying to make connections with odd bedfellows."
He seems to be getting his wish. Beginning with the film festival South by Southwest in March 2007, advance screenings of Knocked Up have been overwhelmingly positive for the film. From fanboy blogs, audience chatter as they walk from the theaters to trade commentaries, moviegoers seem to be getting exactly what Apatow wants them to get out of his film.
Critic Joe Leydon of Variety best concludes: "Knocked Up is uproarious. Line for line, minute to minute, writer / director Judd Apatow's latest effort is more explosively funny, more frequently, than nearly any other major studio release in recent memory. Indeed, even more than the filmmaker's smash-hit sleeper The 40-Year-Old Virgin, his new pic is bound to generate repeat business among ticket buyers who'll want to savor certain scenes and situations again and again, if only to memorize punch lines worth sharing with buddies. Currently set for a June 1 release, this hugely commercial comedy likely will remain in megaplexes throughout the summer and, possibly, into the fall"
Universal Pictures presents An Apatow Production of A Judd Apatow Film: Knocked Up, starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Martin Starr. The music is by Loudon Wainright and Joe Henry; the music supervisor is Jonathan Karp. Knocked Up's costume designer is Debra McGuire; the editors are Brent White and Craig Alpert. The film's production designer is Jefferson Sage, and the director of photography is Eric Edwards. Executive producers for the comedy are Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Knocked Up is produced by Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson and Clayton Townsend. It is written and directed by Judd Apatow.
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