'Trainwreck' sets Amy Schumer on fast track
AUSTIN — Amy Schumer has some advice for all you married folks who wonder what it's like to be dating these days.
"It's horrible — it's terrible out here," she says. "The only thing that's good is the possibility, the hope, but it's rough."
Married friends, she says, ask her, "'What's it like?' And I'm like, 'It sucks. So good job, you guys. Congrats.'"
"Yeah, enjoy your husbands more," chimes in Judd Apatow, who directed Schumer's big-screen debut, Trainwreck, which she both stars in and wrote.
The romantic comedy made its premiere at South By Southwest as a work in progress for a July 17 release. If the raucous audience reaction is any indication ("It was like a rock concert," she says), Schumer's movie career is successfully on track.
But the promiscuous, hard-partying thirtysomething she plays in the film is on the verge of going off the rails. "She is doing her best," says Schumer, 33, "and these behaviors that have always been fun have gotten me by my whole life."
Wait, is she talking about herself, or the character? A bit of both, actually. The Amy in Trainwreck is autobiographical, but a fictionalized version — on steroids.
As on her raunchy Comedy Central sketch show Inside Amy Schumer, which begins its third season April 21, most of the funny stuff has roots in real life. "It's just my personal stuff," she says. "Even though my name is always Amy on the show, it's different characters. This was a chance to see this one girl's story all the way through."
A woman who always thought that monogamy wasn't possible has her life turned upside down when she meets a good guy in 'Trainwreck.' VPC
Apatow (This Is 40) encouraged Schumer to write an original script after hearing her on The Howard Stern Show. They had never worked together, but he could tell that "Amy certainly had her share of stories."
Her first attempt fell short, but Apatow urged her to try again with "'what's going on with you,'" says Schumer, who bought film-script software and read a book about screenwriting as she toiled. "This was the hardest I'd worked on anything ever."
The story she decided to tell focused on a woman who is so jaded that she hates sleeping over after a one-night stand, begrudges her sister her marriage, and has a rough relationship with her father, who's moving into a retirement community. "This is just all part of my story, and resenting things you don't feel you could ever have or deserve, but that's all stuff I was discovering as I was writing the movie," Schumer says. "It all felt pretty organic."
One early scene has Amy undertaking a hilarious (and treacherous) Staten Island walk of shame that involves a ferry ride. "The first drafts of it were so great," Apatow says.
The scenes, in general, he said, "were really strong, especially for someone who hasn't written a screenplay before. We just had to figure out how to tell the tale."
Her character, a journalist at a men's magazine, is being groomed for an editor's job by a glammed-out Tilda Swinton. (Sample story: "You're not gay, she's boring.")
Assigned a profile about an orthopedic surgeon (Bill Hader) who repairs the knees of famous athletes, Amy promptly seduces him, then realizes she may be falling for him.
Hader surprises as a charming straight man. "I always thought this is what he should have the chance to do," Apatow says. "He's a sweetheart of a guy, but it's hard to get parts like that and it's hard for people to see you in a new light."
Also revelatory is NBA star LeBron James, who plays Hader's wingman. "It's not a cameo, he's actually a large part of the movie," Apatow says.
That her character has a chance at finding love gives Schumer herself hope, she says.
"She is a full human being, a sister, a daughter, a friend and not just what on first glance would be just this party girl," says Schumer. "At her core, she's a good gal."
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