Top That: Paul Rudd in ‘I’m Me, But Who Are You?’
Hello. I’m Paul Rudd. Over the years, people have called me a variety of ridiculous names, and the truth is, I really don’t mind what you call me. People may recall this handsome mug of mine from such classics as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and, hey, I thought I was pretty darn good if I don’t say so myself in Anchorman. Yeah, I know; Will was constantly stealing the spotlight in that one but I’d like to think I had a few moments of pure comedic gold. Right?
Anyway. Point is, I haven’t done too badly as a kid from Passaic, New Jersey. . . being raised by two English parents, and eventually settling in Kansas. My relatively unassuming background has served me well, as I managed to use my time studying theater at the University of Kansas, eventually to leverage a three-month opportunity to study under one Michael Kahn at Oxford University, where I found myself flourishing. . . simply flourishing. . . in the dramatic arts. Hey, I even co-produced a play called Bloody Poetry in which I played the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. I popped onto the television screen circa 1992, on a show called Sisters — I played an aspiring filmmaker named Kirby Philby. The most ridiculous names, I tell you. In fact, I go back on what I said earlier. You can call me any name you like, except that. Don’t call me Kirby.
My turn to work on the big screen came when I played the part of Josh in the 1995 romantic comedy, Clueless. (Shout out, Alicia Silverstone!!!) Since, I’ve been working steadily in film, making sure I never try to outdo myself. I consider myself to have a relatively diverse repertoire — I’ll occasionally duck into some dramatic role (see me play the arrogant ass, Dave Paris in Romeo + Juliet in ’96?) having played a goofball for many consecutive roles. But one thing always remains true: I try to remain understated. I like to consider myself an intelligent fellow, yet many of my characters wouldn’t indicate that about me at all. I enjoy the shroud that acting can provide over my actual personality.
Here I am blabbering on. What I really wanted to tell you is that I’m so glad you’ve decided to stop by and check out my new promotional material that is ‘I’m Me, But Who Are You?,’ a campaign with which I’m going to inform you good people of a few of the ways in which I’ve used performance arts to say something both about my own journey through life, and about the collective human experience. Needless to say, this job isn’t easy. You have to be good at separating your head space into work and play mode. A lot of the time, those two consciousnesses blur easily and it’s a job in itself to not go home in character. I don’t think I do a lot. But who knows. Regardless, here are ten things I’ve said that have come from the awesome characters I’ve been so fortunate to portray. With any luck, they all will give you a better idea of my life as a big-screen actor. I do sincerely hope you enjoy. And most of all, I hope you enjoy me as I reprise my role as Brian Fantana in the upcoming Anchorman sequel, coming to theaters this December!
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Director: Stephen Chbosky
I know, I know. This is me at my most stoic-y. And although I just made that word up, I know what I’m saying. I really enjoyed playing this character, Mr. Anderson. In fact, I was really proud to be a member of the cast of The Perks — really a spectacular experience. Everyone was great, the atmosphere was so natural and relaxed, and I think it allowed us all to bring out the best in ourselves to rise up to the challenge of our characters, and I think mine, personally, was one of the best. I got to actually flex my dramatic muscle for once. . . . .eehhhhhhyyyyeeeeepp. Felt pretty good.
“Hey, you know. I’ve been meaning to tell you. You’re doing a really good thing here, Omar. Seriously. I mean you talk to us screw-ups, you give us a reason for getting out of bed in the morning.”
Director: Jesse Peretz
Haha. This character was great. Oh, Ned. The so-called “idiot brother” everyone loves to hate on. In this situation I was actually talking to my parole officer, Omar, who I was stoked to talk to since I wasn’t feeling very good about myself right around this time. I then made a critical error in telling him that I broke down a couple of days ago and had smoked some weed. Not knowing the implications of telling my parole officer such things, I honestly thought I wouldn’t get into trouble by doing that, but. . . as you will learn, my character ain’t all that bright. This is what I was saying earlier, about it being nice to be an actor sometimes. You can really fool people.
“Any one of you would throw me under the bus for a bigger bonus, but Barry would throw himself under a car to protect a mouse. . .that was already dead.”
Director: Jay Roach
Despite this film receiving a completely underwhelming critical and commercial response, I enjoyed my part in this goofy affair. Having to put up with Barry (Steve Carell)’s antics was a very ridiculous, enjoyable experience. I’ve always loved working with Steve. He’s a very nice man. Since getting to work with him in other projects like Virgin and Anchorman, the two of us have managed to form a solid repartee together and it usually always pays off on the big screen. I think that’s certainly true of this film.
“Latress on the menjay…”
Directors: Ivan Reitman, John Hamburg
You know, honestly. . . I can’t explain this one. A lot of what the character Peter Klaven stemmed from was many years of really, really deep soul-searching on my part to reach my innermost. . . nah, just kidding. This role was mostly ad-libbed. Which makes it even better, if you think about it. Klaven is a simple man, a little more than socially awkward as he has no real male buddies or whatnot, and he, uh. . . . . . . .well he just finds himself bumbling awkwardly through life trying to make some.
“Venti is twenty. Large is large. In fact, tall is large and grande is Spanish for large. Venti is the only one that doesn’t mean large. It’s also the only one that’s Italian. Congratulations, you’re stupid in three languages.”
Director: David Wain
I can be a convincing jerk, although I don’t like to go this route often since I fear it will tarnish my otherwise sterling reputation about town as one of the nicest guys around. I’ve got work to do, though, to catch up to Steve Carell. In Role Models, I played Danny who was, more often than not, a miserable person to be around and always finding something to nitpick and complain about. I wasn’t a whole bag of fun in this movie, yet the finished product sure was.
“When life gives you lemons, just say f**k the lemons and bail.”
Director: Nicholas Stoller
I greatly enjoyed playing this minimal role as a stoner surfer instructor. It may sound like a brag, but I honestly think I was one of the funniest parts of the movie. I also get to provide one of Peter (Jason Segel)’s shots at redemptions. He learns to surf. And that’s all because of me. Even though I don’t remember him much later in the movie.
“I wonder if your songs will still be shit when I’m sixty-four.”
Director: Jake Kasdan
Getting to play John Lennon. . .wow, now that’s a memory worth saving. Although I realize these characterizations were more than overt and purely silly, this entire experience was a lot of fun, and I did what I could with what little I had. Though, I might be able to accurately say that this wasn’t one of my favorite movies I’ve been a part of. Despite my character, the entire set feel was awkward. I think that’s owed to my supreme jealousy of the hugely-talented John C. Reilly. This was certainly his show. The bastard.
“No, I’m not gay. I’m just celibate.”
Director: Judd Apatow
Well I’d be lying if I said that a lot of what made this role a really fun one to play — in another of my great collaborations with Judd Apatow, in all his perverted, comical genius — didn’t come from an extensive line-o-rama reel, in which me and Seth Rogen in particular went over many, many hilarious lines trying to pick out the best ones that would highlight our characters the most effectively. Of course, playing David — one of Andy’s “supportive friends” at Smart Tech — I had issues of my own, as one of the running jokes belonged to the relationship between me and Mindy Kaling, my ex-girlfriend who I kept stalking. Lots of fun to be had in this role. I hope you don’t hate me, Mindy. . .
Director: Adam McKay
That’s right. You all know what this is about. In this role I just enjoyed the ride playing up my usual, goofy side with a bit of embellishment thrown in for good measure. Adam said this would be an environment in which no seriousness would be tolerated whatsoever so I really felt like I thrived under his direction there. It’s just so nice sometimes to come in with a fresh set of ridiculous ideas about your character, ask around a few people to see what they think, and to end up with mostly indifferent responses, averaging out to a, “Yeah dude, that would be cool. Go ahead and try it and we’ll roll with it if it’s good.”
“You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.”
Director: David Wain
Alright, for the record — I really LOVE working with Elizabeth Banks!! Although in this particular scene I wasn’t being a very nice “Mr. Man,” my experience on Wet Hot American Summer was nothing but a bunch of positives for me. I miss these days. Don’t you guys?
Next in the spotlight from the Channel 4 News Team: Champ Kind (David Koechner). Stay tuned!