ICONOCLASTS: Funny people Judd Apatow + Lena Dunham

On this week’s ICONOCLASTS — tonight at 8P on Sundance Channel — we get to listen in as two of the most painfully, hilariously honest artists creating movies and TV today talk about the love (your work) letter that brought them together.

Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham share an uncannily similar approach to turning a twenty-first century lens onto the real, messy lives of ordinary people who just happen to be exceptionally wordy and smart. For Apatow, that’s come in the form of series like Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, and movies including ANCHORMAN, KNOCKED UP and FUNNY PEOPLE (Dunham’s favorite).

After watching a DVD of Dunham’s movie TINY FURNITURE, Apatow had “a soul connection to what she was doing” and sent her a letter saying as much. Dunham called him the day after receiving it and the two have been collaborating ever since — Apatow is the executive producer of her HBO hit Girls.

The series is both risqué and deeply real, focusing on the angst and the relationships of four twentysomethings and the men who orbit them. It’s also profoundly autobiographical for Dunham, who marvels “how universal something personal can be.”


For his part, Apatow knows a thing or two about delving into personal material to make movies that both ring true and crack us up; we get to see him working on the finishing touches of THIS IS 40 (due in December), which stars his wife, Leslie Mann, and their two daughters (and Paul Rudd, standing in for Apatow himself as the husband-father).

“Lena feels like my oldest daughter,” Apatow says, “who’s doing well, and I’m excited she has a job!” It’s clear that Apatow and Dunham have developed a sweet mentor-protégé rapport; it’s evident how their work and personal style speaks to each other.


We also get to see Lena moving into her own place — the first time she’s really lived somewhere other than her parents’ apartment, she says. Oh, and — if the little snippet of Dunham’s short film, made as a student at Oberlin College, leaves you wanting more, here’s the whole thing:

“No one ever told her the generic way to do anything,” Apatow says. “She only has her instinct.”

Good thing for us.

Sundance Channel and Grey Goose Entertainment present ICONOCLASTS every Monday at 8P.