The 40-Year-Old Virgin helped launch Steve Carell into comedy stardom, reintroduced audiences to Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen, featured one of Jonah Hill’s first movie roles, and began the Judd Apatow Comedy Filmmaking Empire. Here are some facts that will make you cooler than David Caruso in Jade.
1. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was based on one of Steve Carell's Second City sketches.
The sketch was about a man who, in trying to keep up in a poker game conversation about sexual experiences, proves to be completely clueless about the subject. After working together on Anchorman, Judd Apatow asked Carell if he had any movie ideas; Carell pitched him the concept for The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the two wrote the film together.
2. Universal Studios provided Steve Carell and Judd Apatow with case studies on middle-age virginity.
They read that older virgins were typically normal people who, according to Carell, "at some point just gave up on the whole notion; it was more difficult to keep attempting than to give up."
3. Steve Carell was 43 years old and a father of two when The 40-Year-Old Virgin was released.
Carell's four-year-old daughter was “a little freaked out” at seeing her father on billboards promoting The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
4. Universal refused to allow Jason Segel to be in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Since Apatow didn’t have veto power back then, Jason Segel was out of luck. However, the incident reinforced Apatow’s advice to Segel that he should be writing his own material for a better chance at starring in films—advice which eventually led to Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
5. Steve Carell lost 30 pounds for The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Though Apatow was originally "nervous about it, because I don't think comedians wanting to look good is ever good for the comedy," he gradually realized that Carell being "ripped" was a good idea. Because it helped establish that Andy was only a virgin because he’s shy and nervous, not because of his looks.
6. PAUL RUDD WAS CONSIDERED SO OVERWEIGHT THAT UNIVERSAL SHUT DOWN PRODUCTION FOR TWO DAYS.
Unlike most other directors, Apatow encourages Rudd to gain some weight before shooting because he thinks the actor is funnier when he’s a little fatter. Unfortunately, Universal disagreed, and Rudd ended up not eating for 48 hours to satisfy the studio. The one scene that stayed in the film from before the Universal-mandated shutdown was the speed-dating sequence. But there were other reasons for the shutdown: According to Apatow, they didn't like that he was lighting the film "like an indie." Also ...
7. The studio thought Steve Carell looked like a serial killer.
In response, "Steve decided the character would be a little more Buster Keaton-esque," according to Apatow. "He was low-energy and everyone else was spinning around him." Lines were also written (and improvised) making fun of the fact that Andy could be confused for a serial killer.
8. Jane Lynch's "Guatemalan Love Song" in The 40-Year-Old Virgin was from a passage in her high school textbook.
Part of the translation was "Where are you going with such haste? To a football game.” Lynch’s role was originally going to be played by a man, until Steve Carell’s wife, Nancy Walls (who played Maria, the health clinic counselor), suggested Lynch for the part of the store manager.
9. It was Leslie Mann's idea to throw up on Steve Carell's face in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Originally, Nicky (Mann's character) and Andy were supposed to get pulled over by the police, and it would turn out that Nicky was concealing a gun under her seat all along. Instead, Mann insisted that her vomiting on Carell would be a funnier conclusion to the scene, so she gulped down a mix of strawberry yogurt and “some kind of kefir.”
10. The waxing scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin was real.
About halfway through the ordeal, Carell was in so much pain that he realized it might have been a bad idea. It took seven weeks for all of his hair to grow back.
11. Judd Apatow and Steve Carell had trouble coming up with the big "Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" ending.
Garry Shandling put it in Apatow’s head that it was important to show that Andy is having better sex than his friends because he is in love. Later, Carell came up with the general idea of singing a song, and Apatow immediately thought “Let the Sunshine In” would work.
12. That big musical number sent Jonah Hill to the hospital for heatstroke.
Hill had to be hospitalized.
13. The filmmakers shot 1 million feet of film for The 40-Year-Old Virgin,
The film company bought the cast and crew champagne to celebrate.
14. Test screenings made The 40-Year-Old Virgin less R-rated.
People notably stopped laughing during the scene in which Andy watches porn from Dave’s “Boner Jams ‘03” tape. Two weeks later at another test screening, the new cut featured far less graphic content. Andy overhearing his old neighbors having sex was also cut after poor reactions. Trish’s line about Einstein having sex with his wife was taken out, then put back in once Apatow and Carell realized women liked that line.
15. Exotic fish were accidentally harmed during the making of The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
The electricity was shut off in the aquarium area after filming ended, causing a lack of proper aeration in the fish tank, leading to their deaths. The American Humane Association withheld its “no animals were harmed…” disclaimer because of the incident and rated the film “Monitored Unacceptable.”
This story has been updated for 2020.