It's hard to remember a time when the Judd Apatow crowd wasn't cranking out movies at a rapid clip.
But it's only—or already?—been 15 years since he made his feature directorial debut with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the title alone raising eyebrows before the first hair had been ripped from Steve Carell's chest.
Not that Apatow hadn't been stealthily shaping what would become 21st-century comedy culture since the 1990s. By 2005, the stand-up comic and writer-producer on The Ben Stiller Show and The Larry Sanders Show, Apatow had already cranked out the woefully short-lived Freaks and Geeks with Paul Feige, created the also-underappreciated Undeclared, and ushered Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy into the world.
Which was kind of a big deal.
But The 40-Year-Old Virgin, with its hard-R rating, 132-minute running time and fairly realistic look at dudes who talk a hilarious game but don't know what to do with themselves, made Apatow—maker of strangely long gross-out comedies with a sensitive streak—into a household name.
And here are 18 things to know about how it happened:
Unlike Andy, Apatow got lucky right out of the gate, with The 40-Year-Old Virgin making more than $177 million worldwide on a $26 million budget.
And even more than a billion dollars in box office receipts and 15 years later, you never forget your first.
"I was so scared making it because you really feel like, if this doesn't go well, there will not be a second movie," Apatow explained last year on Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitzky's Your Mom's House podcast. "So your first movie is a very intense situation."