‘Trainwreck’ Interview: Amy Schumer Wrecks Expectations

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Amy Schumer is already one of the most well-regarded comedians working today and now she is poised for even greater heights with the release of her first feature film Trainwreck. The Judd Apatow-directed film not only stars the groundbreaking comic, but she also wrote the semi-autobiographical script that holds nothing back.

During a press tour earlier this year, Schumer took some time to speak with us about the film and she was every bit as uncensored, smart and funny as one would hope. We saw the film in advance of this interview and can’t recommend this tremendous comedy enough. Check out the highlights of our conversation with Amy Schumer below:

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Amy_Schumer_Trainwreck_Interview_04How was it seeing the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Trainwreck at SXSW?

Beyond dream come true. I’m getting choked up thinking about it. I was sitting next to my sister and we had seen some test screenings and the crowds were good, but like Judd [Apatow] said, it will never play like this again. People were going crazy. Applause breaks. People were missing all the punchlines because they were laughing. It was probably the best night of my whole life.

I’ll be honest, at the screening I attended, I missed punchlines because I was laughing so hard. 

That’s a great ass problem to have! But yeah, that was amazing. I’ve always been in little roles, but I’ve never been in a big movie and part of this whole thing, so yeah it’s fun.

Obviously you wrote from personal experience, but how much of the movie would you say is actually autobiographical?

40%? Yeah, some of the things are just straight up. Like I one time was really high. And my boyfriend at the time – I wasn’t cheating on him, but he saw like an email exchange, where we were starting to be interested in each other. And I’d just smoked pot and he wanted to talk about it. And I was just like.. ehhhhhh. So that’s like straight up from my life. And I was like, can I just leave? And John [Cena] is like, “Is she [the character]likable?” and I’m like, “I don’t know.”

And then my Dad and my relationship with my sister. And things I was going through, and I was falling in love when I wrote this movie, and remember it not being fun. And being scared. It’s true. But then there are some things that are completely ridiculous. And I never did have the revolving door Manhattan apartment where I was just fucking, you know?Lebron James Amy Schumer Trainwreck

Was the Lebron James role written actually for Lebron or was it just for any athlete to be cast later?

It was fully written as Lebron. But thinking that we would get – I don’t know sports for real, but I know who Lebron James is, but I thought, “Oh we’ll get another great athlete.” But then Judd and Bill [Hader] met with Lebron and he was down to do it. He was literally the biggest pleasure in the world. He was so funny and didn’t take himself seriously. We were all just like, “Do you think we can do this? Can we include him on this?” and ready for him to turn on us and he was like, “I’ll do whatever. Let’s just have fun.” He was awesome.

Yeah, because that would have sucked. Athletes trying to act can be so uncomfortable. Shaq or Brett Favre even in There’s Something About Mary, even though that’s the joke. But still, he’s a big part of the movie and if he’d been really wooden it would have sucked.

What was the hardest part for you moving from your TV show to a film?

If anything, I would say the other way. I filmed the third season of my show after the movie and I would say that was a little more difficult because with a movie you have a trailer – I didn’t have like a great trailer, it was like a port-o-potty with a bench in it – but still I was just like, “Ooooh.” But Judd creates such a familial vibe, it wasn’t overwhelming, I didn’t feel like I needed to tiptoe. I kind of set the vibe on set, like it was going to be very laid back. Everyone is going to trash each other. Frank holding the boom, if his crack is hanging out I’m going to put a pencil in it. On my TV show, we’re all really close, the cast and the crew – everybody.

I would say the biggest problem with the movie was that people were there long enough that when they leave it’s really sad. It’s like camp. It’s like Vanessa Bayer’s last day – I didn’t think about it, but it’s like, “Oh, okay. So I’m not going to see you every day for fourteen hours?” And I get separation anxiety, so it was little mini-heart breaks. But on my TV show it’s always one day per person, usually.

One of my favorite scenes in the film was the bedroom scene with John Cena. The red band trailer had different takes that weren’t used in the final film. Was that scene free-flowing improv?

It was written, and with every scene I work really hard on the script and have it down to where I want the word “Uh.” And then in the moment it’s just like, let’s see what happens. A lot of that was just off Cena’s dome. It was the biggest shock of the movie. Lebron was amazing – but John Cena, the stuff he was coming up with when he started speaking Mandarin, that’s all him.

I was laughing so hard at a certain point I thought I was going to have to be completely cut of this scene. You’ll just see my ear. He has an endless array. Even the jokes in the movie theater, it wasn’t scripted that his threats would be really gay. It just started happening that way. I just started being like, “Your threats are really sexual.” and we were like let’s do that. That’s not how it was written, he just showed up with an arsenal of weird shit to say.

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Speaking of celebrity cameos, the Daniel Radcliffe dog walker thing? What the heck was that? Where did that come from?

[laughs] I wrote a whole fake movie about a dog walker and that they were from the wrong side of the tracks. It kind of could have been whoever – I think I initially wrote if for Daniel or Joaquin Phoenix – it was just for someone who had no business being in this movie. Then we shot it and we were like, “Maybe we won’t even use it?” but then we were like, “We gotta use Daniel Radcliffe and Marissa Tomei.” I hope that wasn’t too distracting, but we needed to use this because we shot it and it’s ridiculous.

It was just like kind of making fun of movies. Seeing him outside of Bryant Park with all those dogs, people were so confused. Why is this happening? He’s smoking cigarettes and it was so funny to watch that day and direct them and be like, “I want Marissa holding this poodle.” This dying poodle.

Trainwreck is very much a traditional romantic comedy with the genders reversed. The men are more sensitive and the woman are more wild. Was that the intention from the start?

Honestly, I think you’re right, but that was not the intent. It wasn’t like, “Let’s give the girls a shot!” Most of the men in my life are very sensitive. More sensitive than me. And I’m not like… I did the math yesterday and I’ve slept with 25 people, and I don’t know if that’s typical or not for a girl, I’m 33. I mean yearly that’s not that bad, it’s just been my experience.

I wanted to make sure this role was clear, who this girl was. I experienced Samantha on Sex In The City as someone who was mentally ill. And I think a lot of times, mostly when guys try to write a female comedy, they’ll write this slut role, where I am like, if my friend were behaving that way I would take her to the hospital.

So it wasn’t like that. I really wanted to make sure this girl was preserved as a human being and wasn’t like, “I don’t care, I’ll fuck anybody.” And I’ve gone through phases where I’ve spread myself a little too thin and the reasons behind that aren’t very healthy and then realizing this is not rewarding and I do want love and whatever. And I think that’s just a human thing. I think men experience that too, and women experience it too. But people are way more critical and sensitive to a woman being promiscuous at all. Or what would be deemed promiscuous.

But it wasn’t intentional. I think we thought it was funny for LeBron James to be really invested in his friend’s relationship. There was a whole part of the movie that was cut out – the first scene I wrote, it was cut out. But it was me talking to John Glaser in the office, just talking about how I’m like, “No, men hurt women – women don’t hurt men,” And he’s like, “I’ve been hurt by every woman I’ve ever met.” Just that idea that we have this stigma. And not realizing that I, that a woman can hurt someone. But yeah, I know a lot of really sensitive guys and I’ve hurt people and I’ve been hurt. So it’s not a male/female thing. It wasn’t like, “Girls, we’re fucking this time!”

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What did Judd Apatow bring to the film that changed the way you thought the final project would come out?

So much. He’s a genius, for real. I’ve never written a movie, and he just understands the balance of things. So it’s like, we can’t have the audience sad for that long. And we haven’t seen this guy in a long time. And here we need a moment where we see the two of them.

He just understands what people want. What they want to see, and I’m thinking of things on a budget that I’m used to working with. I’m like, “What if this scene is at the Rec Center?” And he’s like, “What if it was at The Garden?” What garden? You know? He just created an environment where we all felt really free to play, and also he directed me in a way where I felt safe to be super vulnerable and go farther with things than I would have thought I would go. Yeah, I lucked out. Jesus Christ.

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