15 Fun Facts About Knocked Up

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Ten years ago, Knocked Up solidified Seth Rogen as an unconventional Hollywood leading man and helped writer/director Judd Apatow become one of the most recognizable names in comedy. The film stars Rogen as Ben Stone, an immature but well-meaning schlub who accidentally impregnates accomplished entertainment journalist Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl). The movie grossed over $215 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, and it also spawned the spin-off This is 40 (2012), focusing on Alison's sister (Leslie Mann) and her husband (Paul Rudd). Here are 15 facts about Knocked Up, which premiered in theaters 10 years ago.

1. ANNE HATHAWAY WAS ORIGINALLY CAST AS ALISON.

Though the Knocked Up cast received plenty of praise from critics, it was originally going to look much different, as Anne Hathaway had initially agreed to play the lead role of Alison.

“Hathaway dropped out of the film because she didn’t want to allow us to use real footage of a woman giving birth to create the illusion that she is giving birth,” Judd Apatow wrote to The New York Times. According to Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann, he was also thinking of Alison Lohman for the role, but it "didn't work out."

Mila Kunis auditioned for the role, too. While Apatow passed on her for Alison, she did get a consolation prize: She landed the role of Rachel Jansen in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which Apatow produced and Jason Segel wrote.

2. SETH ROGEN AND HIS MOVIE ROOMMATES IMPROVISED FOR APATOW.

Rogen's character's roommates were Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Martin Starr, and Jonah Hill, who all went by their real first names. Apatow had them all come over to his house to record them improvising scenes to help them all find their fictionalized versions of themselves. During one of the rehearsal days, Apatow asked how the group could be more interesting, which is when Rogen's writing partner, Seth Goldberg, brought up the "Dirty Man Competition."

"We'd have a bet with a guy to see how long he could go without shaving or showering or cutting his hair," Goldberg told Apatow. Added Segel, "We thought we could chart the nine months based on Martin's beard length." An abandoned addition to the bit would have had Baruchel trying to maintain a Vanilla Ice-like hairstyle longer than Starr had his beard.

3. THE MORE MEMORABLE CONVERSATIONS WERE IMPROVISED.

At the first Knocked Up table read, Rogen told Baruchel about Munich, a movie he had just seen. The resulting conversation was a part of the first scene that was shot. Rogen was also responsible for Ben and Pete's fascination with the surplus of chairs in their Las Vegas hotel room, according to Paul Rudd.

"We were getting ready to shoot the scene and Seth was like, 'There are a lot of chairs!' because the set designer kind of brought in a lot of spare prop chairs," Rudd recalled. "And I was like, how do I show somebody's on mushrooms? Let's talk about chairs for a while!"

4. THE CONDITIONS WERE SURPRISINGLY BRUTAL.

During a week of shooting in Northridge, California, conditions were particularly brutal, with temperatures surpassing 115°F. Despite Baruchel reminding everyone to drink water, Segel didn't listen and ended up falling ill. After Segel and Rogen shot their fight scene, they both needed oxygen.

5. JAY BARUCHEL HAD A REAL FEAR OF ROLLER COASTERS.

The roller coaster sequence was used in the final cut's opening credits. It was shot on location at Knott's Berry Farm, but not every member of the cast was fond of the experience.

"There’s a very funny documentary about the roller coaster sequence because Jay Baruchel didn’t want to do it because he says he gets panic attacks on roller coasters," Apatow explained. "The documentary is about me manipulating him into doing it and you see me basically lying to him saying, 'It’s not that bad' and then him having a panic attack on the roller coaster. And then he won’t do it again and we have to keep doing it all day and then you see—because most people want to see this—most of our actors vomiting over and over."

6. JOEY BUTTAFUOCO SHOWED UP UNANNOUNCED ON SET.

Joey Buttafuoco, the Long Island auto body shop owner who became infamous thanks to his affair with Amy Fisher, was working a craft services truck on set one afternoon. His surprise cameo briefly lifted the spirits of the sweltering cast and crew in Northridge.

7. IT WAS KEN JEONG'S FILM DEBUT.

Ken Jeong had appeared on some TV shows like The Office and Entourage, but the doctor/stand-up comedian made his feature film debut in Knocked Up as Dr. Kuni. He shot it during a "vacation week." Jeong told NPR playing Dr. Kuni was his "first big break," and that Apatow was looking for an Asian actor with medical experience.

8. BILL HADER WORKED AS A VIDEO EDITOR FOR E! BEFORE HE PLAYED A VIDEO EDITOR FOR E! IN THE MOVIE.

For Bill Hader, the movie served as a trip back to his earlier days on the E! network.

"So I was down the hall (from) where I used to work, and that was weird seeing some of the guys I used to work with,” Hader remembered. “They were like, ‘Oh, you’re Mr. Hollywood now.’"

9. RYAN SEACREST GOT INTO THE MOVIE AFTER APATOW SAW HIM GET ANNOYED AT A TARDY CELEBRITY.

Apatow and his crew visited the E! News set for research. They found an annoyed Seacrest repeatedly trying to leave, annoyed that a guest was running late. Apatow found this so funny that he decided to put it into the movie, with the late celebrity being Jessica Simpson. Not used to reading a script, Apatow instructed, “Hey, can you use a bad word and make fun of a couple people and, at the end of this whole scene, really make sure you make fun of yourself?”

10. APATOW HAD TO CONVINCE LESLIE MANN TO HIRE THEIR DAUGHTERS.


Universal Pictures

Leslie Mann was initially reluctant to let their daughters, Maude and Iris, appear in the movie. "Time passed by, and I was saying no, no. no, and then I’m like—I dunno, maybe," Mann said. "And then it was like a week before and he said, 'You have to tell me now.' He would ask me when I was really busy, so I couldn’t really focus on it and then it ended up just happening. But it’s okay…"

The two girls were later featured in a much larger role in the spin-off, This is 40.

11. APATOW HAD A CONNECTION TO CIRQUE DU SOLEIL HE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT.

Apatow had tried to incorporate Cirque du Soleil in his earlier movies, but it never survived the rewrites until Knocked Up. After having an easy shoot, the writer/director discovered that the head of PR at Cirque was Apatow's babysitter when he was a kid.

12. THEY USED THREE DIFFERENT PREGNANCY BELLY MOLDS FOR HEIGL.

A plaster cast was made of the front side of Heigl's torso and then sculpted into a three-month belly, a belly for six months, and finally one for nine months. They were filled with poly foam. Freckles and veins were also painted on to make it look real. Attaching and finishing the prosthetic took 45 minutes each day for the scenes when the belly was shown on screen.

It was easier to make the disgusting pool. The sides of the pool were painted green and it was filled with clean water, mixed with gallons of instant tea for density.

13. APATOW REALLY WANTED TO SHOW THE CROWNING SHOT.


Universal Studios

Apatow explained his rationale to Collider: "So the reason that I show the crowning shot is if I don’t show it I just look like an episode of Friends, and I am trying to make you feel the pain of that experience, because it is the most intense moment in people’s lives and I had to do something that hadn’t been done before."

His intent was to find a woman who would agree to let him film a real baby being born, but in California, "the unborn child would need a worker’s permit and I can’t get it 'til he’s born. There is a Kurt Vonnegut problem right there. So, we weren’t able to do it, so it became a prosthetic."

14. BRIDESMAIDS GOT ITS START FROM KRISTEN WIIG'S APPEARANCE IN THE MOVIE.

Kristen Wiig played Jill, one of Heigl's bosses at E!. It was there that she met Apatow, who later asked her to write a movie for her to star in that he would produce. When Wiig and Annie Mumolo pitched him Bridesmaids, Apatow thought it was great.

15. KATHERINE HEIGL THOUGHT THE MOVIE WAS "A LITTLE SEXIST."

In 2008, Heigl told Vanity Fair she thought the movie was "a little sexist," and felt it "paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys."

She later retracted her comments somewhat, saying she just didn't like how her character, Alison, came across. “I just didn’t like me," Heigl told Howard Stern. "She was kind of like, she was so judgmental and kind of uptight and controlling and all these things and I really went with it while we were doing it, and a lot of it, Judd allows everyone to be very free and improvise and whatever and afterwards, I was like, ‘Why is that where I went with this? What an a**hole she is!’ Judd and Seth were incredibly good to me on this movie, so I did not mean to sh*t on them at all."

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20 Crafty Facts About Beastie Boys

L to R: Beastie Boys Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz), MCA (Adam Yauch), and Mike D (Michael Diamond) pose in Portugal 1998.
L to R: Beastie Boys Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz), MCA (Adam Yauch), and Mike D (Michael Diamond) pose in Portugal 1998.
Martyn Goodacre/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When a group has been around as long as Beastie Boys—particularly a band that has made such an indelible impact on popular music—every person’s connection to them is likely to be very different, and very specific. I wasn’t a huge fan of Licensed To Ill (1986) as a kid and missed the Paul’s Boutique (1989) heyday by just a few years, so my first strong memory of them was navigating Check Your Head while my parents succumbed to Parental Advisory paranoia and confiscated the CD to “protect me” from the band's corrupting influence. But it was too late. By the time mom and dad started fretting over the trio’s infrequent, and innocuous, f-bombs, I had already become a diehard fan, infected (like so many others) by their uniquely intoxicating combination of rap, funk, and punk that wasn’t just fun and exciting to listen to but self-referential, self-reflective, and actively inspiring.

Of course, they also had bars and absolute bangers. (“Intergalactic” will always and forever leave a smoldering crater on any dance floor.) But after disbanding in 2012 following the untimely death of Adam "MCA" Yauch from parotid cancer, remaining members Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond have spent the past few years reflecting on their experiences as a group—first with the exceptional Beastie Boys Book, and then with the Spike Jonze-directed Beastie Boys Story, a kinda-sorta live recitation/performance of key moments from their career. Between those two projects, they offered some intimate and unprecedented insights into the journey the three of them went on to become one of the most important and influential hip-hop bands in the history of the genre.

1. Beastie Boys originally wasn’t just a name, it was an acronym.

Beastie Boys formed in New York City in 1981 as a hardcore punk band. The name stood for “Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Inner Excellence,” which made no sense with a second “Boys” tacked on at the end. (They subsequently admitted that the acronym was invented after coming up with the name.) It also was immediately inaccurate, since the founding members included Adam Yauch, Michael Diamond, John Berry, and their female drummer Kate Schellenbach.

2. Beastie Boys’s first hip-hop single was basically a prank call set to music.

Released in 1983, “Cooky Puss” marked the first appearance of Adam Horovitz on a Beastie Boys recording. The single became an underground hit in New York City clubs, earning them minor renown and establishing a path incorporating hip-hop into their sets.

3. A lawsuit earned Beastie Boys their first real money as musicians.

“Beastie Revolution” the B-side of "Cooky Puss," earned Beastie Boys their first real income as a group when British Airways sampled the song in a television ad without the band's permission. A lawyer successfully sued the airline for $40,000, which was enough for the band to rent an apartment together in Manhattan's Chinatown, which they used as both living and recording space.

4. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard "Rock Hard," Beastie Boys’s first single as a full-fledged rap group.

After hiring NYU student and future Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin as their DJ—based purely on his dorm room speaker set-up, which included a bubble machine—Beastie Boys began recording rap music in earnest, inspired by early genre luminaries like the Funky 4 + 1. In addition to dropping Schellenbach as their drummer—an insensitive decision the band later regretted—the guys yielded to Rubin’s expertise as a producer with just one other single (T La Rock’s “It’s Yours”) under his belt.

For “Rock Hard,” Rubin sampled AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” which was subsequently withdrawn because they hadn’t sought permission. Decades later, the Beasties appealed directly to Angus Young for the rights to sample the song to add to their 1999 compilation The Sounds Of Science, but Young again refused.

5. Beastie Boys got into trouble on more than one occasion with their music sampling.

“Rock Hard” marked the first—but certainly not the last—time Beastie Boys ran into trouble with sampling. (More on this later.) But during the same period, they recorded the song “I’m Down,” which featured a Beatles sample, but given Michael Jackson’s ownership of the Fab Four’s catalog, they were similarly rebuffed. (A single featuring “I’m Down” and “Drum Machine,” a track credited to “MCA & Burzootie,” was unofficially released in 2007.)

6. Beastie Boys opened for Madonna during 1985's "The Virgin Tour."

Beastie Boys at the West 42nd Street subway station in Times Square in 1986.
Beastie Boys at the West 42nd Street subway station in Times Square in 1986.
Michel Delsol/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Beastie Boys became tour mates with the Queen of Pop after her manager contacted Def Jam Records looking for Run-D.M.C. to open for her Virgin Tour. Run-D.M.C. charged too much. After label chief Russell Simmons told Madonna’s management that their second choice, The Fat Boys, were unavailable (even though Simmons never managed the Fat Boys), he volunteered Beastie Boys for the sum of $500 per week. They spent most of that time antagonizing Madonna’s teenage fan base with raucous, sophomoric stage hijinks, while recording the final tracks on their debut album, Licensed to Ill.

7. Licensed to Ill became Beastie Boys's calling card—and, almost as quickly, an albatross around the band's neck.

With Licensed to Ill, Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin wanted to capitalize on the novelty of a full-length rap album by one of the few (if only) white performers in the genre. To create it, Beastie Boys threw themselves into a misogynistic, lunk-headed frat boy perspective they initially targeted for ridicule, not celebration. But “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” became an anthem for exactly the kind of people they were trying to make fun of, and their subsequent 1987 tour was heavily populated by exactly those kinds of drunken louts. A stage set-up featuring a giant inflatable penis and go-go cages filled with girls also didn’t dissuade critics from thinking they endorsed the lifestyle chronicled on their record. By the time they realized how far they had strayed from their satirical intentions, Beastie Boys had become worldwide rock stars.

8. Beastie Boys broke up after Licensed to Ill—but they didn’t know it.

Disillusioned by their own success with a record they’d come to dislike, the band was slow to begin recording a follow-up for Def Jam—especially after they realized they allegedly hadn’t earned any money at all from it, despite selling what would add up to more than 9 million copies over the next three and a half decades. Simmons claimed they breached their contract to record new music even though he had encouraged them to keep touring, which in turn kept them from recording new material. After the end of their final Licensed to Ill-related tour dates, the Boys went their separate ways, thinking it was just a break. But after they reconnected at the beginning of the recording process for Paul’s Boutique, Yauch told Diamond and Horovitz that he’d actually quit the band temporarily without telling them.

9. Adam Horovitz attempted to launch an acting career.

During the time after Licensed to Ill, Horovitz moved to Los Angeles and attempted to embark on an acting career (not counting his performances as a member of Beastie Boys in Krush Groove and the Run-D.M.C. vehicle Tougher Than Leather). He co-starred opposite Donald Sutherland and Amy Locane in the now-lost Lost Angels. In 2015, Horovitz told GQ that he hadn't seen the film since it screened at Cannes in 1989—and had no interest in seeing it again. He hasn't given up on acting entirely; he has taken on small roles in the intervening years, including a part in Noah Baumbach's While We're Young (2014).

10. Beastie Boys expected Paul’s Boutique to be their comeback. It wasn’t.

One very positive thing did come out of the time Horovitz spent in Los Angeles: He invited Diamond and Yauch to visit, and the three of them met Mike Simpson and John King, hip-hop producers for the Delicious Vinyl record label who employed computers for pioneering sampling techniques. The trio immediately fell in love with their sound and hired them to create the musical backdrop for Paul's Boutique, their 1989 follow-up to Licensed to Ill.

Contrary to popular belief, clearing all 105 samples used on the album (including 24 on the final track “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”) was relatively easy. But even if they were thrilled by the dense sonic tapestry that accompanied their evolving lyrics, fans weren’t immediately taken by the record. Opinion has changed over time though; today, Paul's Boutique is considered a masterpiece—both as a musical endeavor and a technical marvel.

11. Check Your Head catapulted Beastie Boys back to the top of the charts—and inspired a new creative freedom.

Prior to Paul’s Boutique, Beastie Boys signed a multi-album contract with Capitol Records. So even when their comeback fizzled, Capitol was obligated to give them money for another record. They used their advance to create G-Son Studios in the then-sleepy Los Angeles neighborhood of Atwater Village, where they not only had equipment and record space but a basketball hoop and a skateboarding half pipe.

Though they played on their earliest recordings, they really learned—and in many cases, taught themselves—to play the instruments on Check Your Head. The various influences of their adolescence, from hip-hop to punk to funk, pushed them to experiment and combine these sounds into what became a watershed moment for rap and rock reaching tenuous harmony.

12. Beastie Boys's creative endeavors during their time in Los Angeles weren’t only musical.

Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch and Adam Horovitz in 1993 from an archival photo used in “Beastie Boys Story,”
Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch, and Adam Horovitz circa 1993 in a still from Apple TV+'s Beastie Boys Story (2020).
Apple TV+

Around the same time they were recording Check Your Head, Beastie Boys created Grand Royal, a record label that allowed them to release music by artists they liked—starting with Luscious Jackson, an all-female rock/rap band featuring their former drummer Kate Schellenbach.

Over the next decade, they created Grand Royal Magazine, where they evidently officially coined the term mullet; launched the clothing label X-Large (whose name makes it really difficult to find vintage articles on eBay); and founded the New York-based publicity firm Nasty Little Man. After the release of Ill Communication, Yauch mounted the two-day Tibetan Freedom Concert, the biggest benefit concert since 1985’s Live Aid.

13. Beastie Boys helped usher in the Internet era for their fans (or at least people who went to their shows).

In the early 1990s, a computer programmer named Ian Rogers created a website (on the pre-World Wide Web) to answer questions and explore trivia about Beastie Boys. Within a few years, his little FAQ site became the definitive resource for all things related to the band. After launching Grand Royal Magazine, the band decided to make the out-of-print first issue available for free online and reached out to Rogers to have him help them.

Rogers initially turned them (and the money their label offered) down. But the Beasties persisted, and soon enough, he had created an official site where the band could publish information and updates—you know, all the stuff that every band does now. During their tour in 1995, Beastie Boys handed out floppy disks to ticket buyers (a decision they came to regret because people would throw them on stage during their performances). But their forward-thinking efforts to preserve their own legacy would become the standard for anyone creating their identity on the net for decades to come.

14. Spike Jonze directed "Sabotage," which is regularly cited as one of the best music videos of all-time.

Mike Diamond, Spike Jonze and Adam Yauch prepare for the “Sabotage” music video in a scene from “Beastie Boys Story,”
Mike Diamond, Spike Jonze, and Adam Yauch prepare to shoot the “Sabotage” music video in a scene from Apple TV+'s Beastie Boys Story.
Apple TV+

In 1994, Oscar-winning filmmaker—and frequent Beastie Boys collaborator—Spike Jonze directed the video for "Sabotage." The video, an anarchic parody of ‘70s cops shows that perfectly complemented the song’s energy, was shot around Los Angeles with no permits. “[W]e just ran around L.A. without any permits and made everything up as we went along,” Yauch told New York Magazine. Even today, more than 25 years after its original debut, "Sabotage" is regularly cited as one of the greatest music videos ever made.

15. Several Beastie Boys videos were directed by Nathanial Hörnblowér, Adam Yauch's alter ego.

Sabotage” marked a transition point for the band as they regained the success they had during their Licensed to Ill days, except on their own terms. The music video cemented their superstardom and brought Yauch's alter ego, Nathanial Hörnblowér, into the spotlight. When "Sabotage" lost the award for Best Direction to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" at the 1994 MTV Music Video Awards, Hörnblowér stormed the stage to express his outrage (as a very confused Michael Stipe looked on). The official story is that Hörnblowér is Yauch's uncle from Switzerland. The real story is that Hörnblowér is a pseudonym for Yauch which he first enlisted on Paul’s Boutique (he created the cover art).

16. According to the band, Hello Nasty is Beastie Boys's best album.

If Check Your Head and Ill Communication felt like two parts of the same creative workflow, 1998's Hello Nasty—which is named for how the phone was answered at Beastie Boys's New York-based PR firm—marked the full realization of the band's independence and imagination. Long, weird, and fearless, the album effortlessly shuffles from booming dance floor fillers to introspective instrumentals, feeling entirely unrestrained and free for the first time. "Hello Nasty is our best record," Ad-Rock wrote in Beastie Boys Book then included a list of all the reasons why, including the fact that: “It has the song 'Intergalactic,' and that song is the f***in’ jam, right?!”

17. According to the band, To The 5 Boroughs is not their best album.

To the 5 Boroughs, Beastie Boys's follow-up to the Grammy Award-winning Hello Nasty, arrived in 2004, and it arrived with both some counterproductive restrictions and some heavy personal baggage. A planned tour with Rage Against the Machine was canceled after Mike D broke his collarbone in a bike accident, and by the time he healed, Rage had broken up. A year or more ensued with the Boys just living life, growing up, engaging in more ordinary adult activities. 9/11 and the cultural fallout affected the recording of the album, right down to the title, but Yauch initiated the process of recording insisting that the album be all rap—meaning no instrumentals or digressions like they’d done in the past.

“A good path to creating something mediocre is having rigid rules for what you’re making,” Horovitz wrote in Beastie Boys Book. The combination of these “rules,” and an effort to make something more “serious” and politically-minded, might have hobbled what remains a record with some amazing moments but nothing fully coherent.

18. Hot Sauce Committee was originally named for Elvis Presley's driver.

Rebounding from To The 5 Boroughs, Beastie Boys decided to swing in the opposite direction for their next album and record an album of all instrumentals. The result was The Mix-Up, which they toured while wearing suits like an old-school funk band. Moving forward after that album, which netted them a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, they started work on a follow-up, a two-part opus that would bring their eclectic style full circle one more time. Though it became known as Hot Sauce Committee, one prospective title was Tadlock’s Glasses, which referred to Tadlock, one of their tour bus drivers, who worked for Elvis Presley. Presley gifted Tadlock a pair of gold-framed glasses that became a prized possession.

19. It will be tough for crate diggers to find the original albums that went into Hot Sauce Committee.

Hot Sauce Committee was conceived as a collage of samples from records that didn’t exist, which meant they would play instrumentals in different styles, then cut them up in a computer and combine them to feel like samples—even though the original “sources” didn’t actually exist. (In Beastie Boys Book, you can see some of the fictional albums they sampled, as they created fictional artists and titles and even designed cover images.) Ultimately, only Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 came out, because the band actually lost the recordings for Pt. 1 on a train. (If anyone finds it, let us know!)

20. There’s a reason you haven’t heard Beastie Boys’s music more since 2012—and it’s not (just) because they disbanded.

Beastie Boys Mike D (left) and Adam Yauch leaving their hotel in London in 1987.
Beastie Boys Mike D (left) and Adam Yauch leaving their hotel in London in 1987.
Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Following Adam Yauch's death on May 4, 2012, the band effectively disbanded. (There is evidently some music recorded in 2011 that may one day see the light of day, but nothing yet.) Yauch’s will expressly forbid the use of any Beastie Boys music in advertising of any kind, in perpetuity. What this means is that companies cannot use a Beastie Boys song in their commercials.

Ad-Rock and Mike D have continued to record and produce music in the years since Yauch's passing, but they honor his legacy and their longtime partnership by refusing to ever perform again as Beastie Boys without him.