Amy Schumer tries everything. Especially when it comes to shooting a one-night stand for her movie.
“I was like, ‘What if we see his dick?’” Schumer says, describing the well-endowed Staten Islander that opens 2015’s Trainwreck.
“What if he has a huge CGI dong?…And we wound up shooting it in a way that we could put that in post, and… It was just too vile. Too fucking horrifying.”
Schumer plays Amy, a single girl who has modeled her whole life after her father’s carousing ways. Amy drinks like a fish, sleeps with every guy she can, and writes for a men’s magazine without any real career aspirations. When her magazine editor, Dianne (Tilda Swinton), assigns her to cover a local sports surgeon with a revolutionary new procedure, Amy meets the most boring—yet honest person—in New York City, Dr. Aaron Conners. Played by Bill Hader, Conners is a successful sports doctor with a clientele boasting LeBron James, Tony Romo, and Amar’e Stoudemire—all playing themselves.
As reckless as Amy is, Aaron is completely straight-laced. Relationships like this make for cinema gold, and as Schumer explains, the roots of Trainwreck began a long way from the results, with Schumer tailoring her script to fit real-world events.
“Judd [Apatow—Trainwreck’s director and producer] and I met at a general meeting,” Schumer recalls. “And we hit it off.”
Apatow, himself a former stand-up comic, encouraged Schumer to work out a few ideas and concepts that had been stewing in Schumer’s brain. After getting those ideas out of the way, he suggested, “OK, how about a really personal story?” Schumer says.
Schumer began with a conversation about relationships with her male co-worker.
“I was surprised that I could possibly hurt anyone,” Schumer recalls. “I just thought: men hurt women. That’s how it works. And he was like, ‘I’ve been hurt by every woman I’ve ever met.’ That was the first scene.”
Ultimately cut from the finished product, this scene provided Schumer with the basic DNA of what Trainwreck was to be From there, Schumer used her own experience as a base and built set piece on top of set piece, joke on joke, creating a vehicle for her voice and her humor.
“I kind of took my time,” Schumer says. “I was falling in love at the time. I was really scared, and I wrote [Trainwreck] while it was happening.”
And even though Schumer was writing her personal experience, she knew that it was possible that someone else could have easily ended up playing Amy.
“I thought they were going to be like, ‘This is great, and now it will be starring Kate Hudson,’” Schumer says. “I fully thought that.”
Thankfully, Schumer had the director in her corner.
“Like in the movie, I was trying to prepare myself that I wasn’t [going to get the job],” Schumer admits. “And I would write a fun role for myself and be happy that it’s happening. And then Judd said he never considered having someone else play the role.”
Apatow was right to keep Schumer in the lead role, as Trainwreck is lock, stock, and barrel Schumer’s voice and vision. It is where the personal and the political intersect, allowing the film to be more than just an entertaining comedy—one that remained relatively unchanged from day one.
“Nothing changed because we had a bigger budget,” Schumer says. “Like in terms of the message or my point of view. It was fun. It was like fantasy camp.”
“Luckily, LeBron turned out to be a really good actor,” Schumer says, “which was very weird. That was a huge surprise that he was going to be so good.”
In addition to James, Trainwreck also features professional wrestler John Cena as an ex-boyfriend with orientation issues—stealing every scene he is in—as well as an impressive cast of professional actors, notably Swinton and Norman Lloyd, the then-100-year-old actor with credits dating back to the ’40s.
“Being in a scene with Tilda, I just felt so held by her. You just really feel somebody else being so present,” Schumer says. “And then Norman—who’s been in a million movies—he’s such a pro that it’s a different thing.”
Ask Amy Schumer how she wrote Trainwreck, and she’ll tell you she sat down and did it: “[I] just didn’t get out of the chair.” Ask her how the entertainment business is, and she’ll respond, “[I] have no idea how the business works.” Ask her what it’s like to act alongside Norman Lloyd and LeBron James, and she’ll tell you: “Just live it out.”