On her own terms

Amy Schumer sets Hollywood in her sights with ‘Trainwreck’

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Courtesy of Universal

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 tells Boulder Weekly, describing the well-endowed Staten Islander that opens 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.”

Not exactly the sort of answer one might expect from an average promotional press junket, but Amy Schumer is not your average anything by a long shot. The 34-year-old stand-up comic turned TV show writer, director and lead actress is now making her way to the big screen as screenwriter and star in Trainwreck, opening everywhere July 17. The entertainment business is anything but easy or kind, but Schumer is tackling it on her own terms and to quote Charlie Kane, “Those are the only terms anybody every knows.”

For Trainwreck, 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 tells BW, 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 about. 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 end 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.”

The simple presence of Schumer as a romantic lead, Hader as her counter-part and NBA All-Star LeBron James as his sidekick, bucks whatever trend that studio executives still seem to think exist. Not to mention working with the “King” of the court in a professional context.

“Luckily, LeBron turned out to be a really good actor,” Schumer admits, “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 Tilda Swinton and Norman Lloyd, a 100 year-old actor whose career dates 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 along side Norman Lloyd and LeBron James and she’ll tell you: “Just live it out.”

Amy Schumer isn’t taking herself too seriously, and it’s working. In a short span of two years, Schumer has taken a successful stand-up career from the comedy club to television with Inside Amy Schumer and now with Trainwreck’s nation wide release, Schumer is poised to bring her perspective and wit to a much broader audience.

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