Maude Apatow is Taking the Lead on the Road to Stardom
Daughter of Judd Apatow carves her own path through Hollywood.
“That was a horrible answer,” said Maude Apatow, laughing sheepishly after giving a non-horrible answer about her most recent film, The King of Staten Island. She strikes a tricky balance, an ability to articulate herself clearly and curtly while often raking over her sentiments as if they were not adequate enough. There is a sort of ambivalence about her that, if I didn’t know better, makes it seem like it could be her first formal interview.
It obviously wasn’t her first interview, a quick online search produces a excess of coverage. And while she may sometimes dance around an answer or apologize what she believes is an insufficient response, it doesn’t stem from being shy. It’s Apatow’s confidence that propelled her from solely acting in her father’s movies to tackling a solo career.
As the daughter of Judd Apatow, the prolific director who was the catalyst for jump starting many comedians’ careers, the 22-year-old actress and director already has a burgeoning portfolio. Her first roles were in her father’s movies, including Knocked Up (2007) and This is 40 (2012). But since then, she’s branched out on her own, most recently acting as a baseball-bat-slinging-badass in Assassination Nation (2018) where she met the future director of Euphoria, in which she is now in the midst of filming the second season as Lexie, and finally, acting as Henrietta in Netflix’s Hollywood.
The King of Staten Island (directed by Judd Apatow and released online on June 12), is a satirical movie about a sad story that loosely mirrors events in her co-star, Pete Davidson’s, life. She plays Claire, Scott’s (Davidson) younger and more ambitious sister whose life was not completely upended by the death of their firefighter father. In the film, Apatow acts alongside a star-studded cast, like Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr, as well as several other notable individuals. During our talk, she carefully and meticulously listed most of her cast mates (by first and last name) with an accompanying, friendly blurb.
The cast finished shooting in Staten Island this past summer. “We had such a great time shooting it. We shot on Staten Island and it was super-hot,” Apatow said. “I can’t remember when exactly we started, like the end of June and into August so it was super New York heat, but we just had a really great time.” But the New York she experienced last year is much different than New York today, which has since been one of the epicenters of the sociopolitical Black Lives Matter movement. Apatow believes change is necessary.
“I am committed to using my platform to support and champion the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQIA+ rights. It is so important to register to vote, now more than ever,” said Apatow. “Our voices as young people have the power to make real change and it’s time to use them.”
The film, in a light-hearted way, highlights the insidious and long-term effects of losing a loved one while also showing the importance and sacrifice of essential workers like firefighters. As the world embarks on the necessary process of rebuilding and develops as a new, equal and just society, we will look towards key players like firefighters to assist in the peaceful transformation. While it is a film about grappling with a very personal experience, in response to the question asked earlier, Apatow answered (in the non-horrible way) that it is also a film about the “selflessness of essential workers.”
While the movie is similar to events that happened in Davidson’s life, Claire also somewhat mirrors Apatow. At one time, she was pursuing a theater degree from Northwestern University, a decision that was always a point of contention. She wanted to work full-time but respected her parent’s desire for her to finish high school and continue onto college. However, when the opportunity to shoot Euphoria arose, the desire to work full-time became reality.
But, she doesn’t want to just act. She’s already directed a short film, Don’t Mind Alice, which was released at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, a complex and riveting story about a caretaker whose patient dies in her care. It was an intoxicating experience and a dream Apatow hopes to pursue.
“I always wanted to be a director, or since I was in high school, I took a class on directing and directing theater,” Apatow said. “I always think actors who direct have a very specific way of communicating which I find really easy to understand and I think knowing actors really well as a director is important, so, when I was directing I just felt pretty confident and explaining things in a clear way, hopefully.”
Control is one benefit of being a director, one that Apatow especially enjoys while her career is beginning to skyrocket. “It’s hard to be an actor and go from job to job and sort of not have any control over where your career is necessarily going to go and being able to write and direct your own stuff you do have a little bit more control and if you can do that, it’s the best thing.”
The roles she has taken on, from suburban teenager, to a 1920’s woman in Hollywood, a daughter of a mother who dies of cancer, and now a Staten Islander who bears the emotional weight of her brother, encompass her ever-flourishing versatility as a relatable actress. When asked if she had any advice to emerging and aspiring actors, she did not dance around the question, she simply said to stick with it. And, it will be interesting to stick with Apatow and see where her career takes her.