Judd Apatow wanted ‘The King of Staten Island’ to bring people “joy” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 53-year-old filmmaker released the comedy drama in June last year, and has said he didn’t want to wait until cinemas were open again to put the film out, because it felt like a “terrible choice” to put his own profits over people’s happiness.

Asked why he didn’t delay the film’s release, he said: “I wanted ‘King of Staten Island’ to come out because I thought, ‘Oh this is about firemen and nurses and sudden loss’, and it felt like it related to what we were going through in some way.

“Luckily, I’m in a position where I can roll the dice and hope that it makes sense. I certainly was happy that people got to see it. The alternative would’ve been to say ‘Why don’t you wait a year to put it out?’, and just as somebody who wants to get it out of my system, I also felt like it would be weird to have something like that sitting on the shelf for a year that might make people happy in some way.

“To hold back your joy machine and say ‘I know you’re all suffering but I’d like to wait a year to max out my profits’, it really felt like a terrible choice.”

Despite the film – which is a semi-autobiographical look at the life of Pete Davidson, who plays the main character – not hitting the box office, Judd admitted he was still nervous about how many people would watch the movie online.

He added: “It wasn’t a Netflix type of release, there was a gross, people rented it. So there was a moment of ‘I wonder if anyone will pay to watch it right now’, and we did have some of that stress. But it’s a lower budgeted movie, it’s not the new Chris Nolan movie, so the bar isn’t that high.”

And Judd also admitted he’s perfectly happy sticking to character-driven stories, because he’s not a fan of shooting high octane action sequences.

Speaking on the ‘Smartless’ podcast, he said: “This is how I do action, okay? There’s a sequence in ‘The King of Staten Island’ where Pete Davidson is in a car and he’s driving with his eyes closed and it’s showing you that he’s somewhat suicidal as a character, and there’s a car accident and it’s very complicated.

“While we were shooting it, I was in the follow van watching the Federer/Nedal Wimbledon final. And let me say I don’t think I missed the point all day. You know, I’ve got Bob Elswit the guy who shot ‘There Will Be Blood’, so I’m not really going ‘Bob, I think you got it wrong here’.

“So I’m always proud when they come out well with scenes with any type of action.”