Steve Carrell, <EM>The 40 Year Old Virgin</EM> Steve Carrell, The 40 Year Old Virgin
The 40 Year Old Virgin was one of the few flicks filling theaters in 2005. This little tale about a guy who has unbelievably bad luck with the ladies made over $100 million at the box office and marked the directorial debut of TV veteran Judd Apatow (

Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared). Buoyed by a stellar cast that includes The Office’s Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Catherine Keener and Apatow favorite Seth Rogan, the DVD arrives in stores today and looks to be a popular stocking stuffer. Last week, Apatow spoke with TVGuide.com about stalking, body-hair removal and the eventual rise of the dorks.

TV Guide.com: What is the appropriate age for a guy to lose his virginity?
Judd Apatow: You know, there are so many different cultures in this vast world of ours. Who am I to determine when people experience love for the first time? I guess it’s whenever people are comfortable with it. 

TVGuide.com: Have you or your friends ever attempted any of the stunts in the movie in order to get laid?
Apatow: I am terrified when it comes to all that. Of course, I’m married and have two kids now, but my dating days could not have been more uneventful. I was the uncomfortable guy sitting at the end of the bar staring into his glass, unable to make a move. So I truly understood those emotions. There were no stunts in my day. I was afraid to hit on anyone. Every three years, I would fall in love with someone and spend the next two years stalking them. That was my move.

TVGuide.com: So you empathize with Paul Rudd’s character?
Apatow: I always write a good stalker. Paul Rudd or Jason Segel in Freaks and Geeks or Undeclared — the obsessive guy who won’t let go — is right in my wheelhouse.

TVGuide.com: You cast Seth Rogan in pretty much everything you do. Why are you the only guy in Hollywood who’s realized his comic genius?
Apatow: I think more people are picking up on it. He just got cast in Owen Wilson’s next movie. I think the secret is out now, but he really didn’t work much for the last four years, other than as a writer. That’s why it was nice to see him get such huge laughs in [The 40 Year Old Virgin]. Right now, I’m writing a movie for him to be the lead. It’s exciting to try to do for him what we just did with Steve.

TVGuide.com: Will you be directing that project?
Apatow: Yeah. Paul Rudd is going to be in it. My wife, Leslie Mann, is going to be in it. It’s an odd, hopefully original, romantic comedy.

TVGuide.com: Speaking of odd, did you really wax Steve Carell’s chest hair in the movie?
Apatow: That sequence is actually a case of what you see is what you get. When we came up with the idea, we debated how we would do it. There’s a scene in Hitch where Kevin James gets his back waxed, so we decided the only way to do it in an interesting way is to do it for real. Luckily, Steve was up for it, so we put four cameras on him and did it in two long takes. We didn’t really have a script for the sequence. We just knew that every time a patch of hair was removed we wanted him to yell, curse the woman out and then apologize.

TVGuide.com: Your style of comedy can be slapstick, but it’s always grounded in reality. Was it a conscious decision to make Andy (Steve Carell’s character) the type of guy many of us know?
Apatow:
 I just thought that if I was going to do a movie about a 40-year-old virgin, the best way to approach it would be as realistically as possible. So we went on the Internet and found all these blogs from people who were middle-aged virgins and we found that they were normal, shy people. It didn’t have to be a superweird Pee-wee Herman-type character. I tried to write it as personally as possible with all the awkward insecurities that I’ve always felt. For example, I’m pretty hairy myself.

TVGuide.com: Is 40 Year Old Virgin an inspirational film? What can your average Star Wars or Lord of the Rings fanboy glean from it?
Apatow:
 I think that everything I do tends to root for the underdog. I always felt as a kid that I was underappreciated, invisible or weird, but I’ve always secretly thought people would one day appreciate what is different about me. I’m always putting that message out there. Eventually, the nerds and the geeks will have their day.