"Anybody that's going on a road trip and doesn't really want to get into a myriad of snacks is probably no one you want to get in the car with."—Paul Rudd
Best known nowadays as Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man, Paul Rudd has had a long career in Hollywood stretching back to the 1990s. Rudd got his big start with the cult teen flick Clueless, and while might not look like the typical action hero, here he is exceeding all of our expectations. With the box office success of the Ant-Man films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, we’ll likely be seeing more of Rudd's ageless face in the coming years. Here are 42 little-known facts about Paul Rudd.
Rudd played Cher Horowitz’s (Alicia Silverstone's) eventual love Josh in Clueless. Actors such as Ben Affleck (pretty prestigious) and Zach Braff (not so prestigious) were left behind when Rudd was selected for the part in the high school movie.
Rudd acknowledges that his role as Ant-Man is a drastic shift from his other parts, and describes it as a challenging part. For the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Rudd also serves as a co-writer of the script, describing the film as “a part of my heart.” Rudd began thinking of story ideas while he was filming the first film and began to discuss stories with the other writers.
Ever heard of the TV show Party Down? Can’t blame you if you didn’t, though it has become a cult comedy since it left the airwaves. It was co-created and written by Rudd. The show got two seasons and received great reviews, but also suffered from poor ratings and was eventually cancelled. Then again, Rudd can now say he co-created a cult hit.
Role Models served as Rudd’s first lead role in a film, with his other notable roles (e.g. Clueless, Knocked Up, Anchorman) being a smaller part of an ensemble. Rudd also, you guessed it, co-wrote the film. But Role Models was actually the first film Rudd co-wrote, so he viewed his role as “enriching and fun and personal.”
Rudd still looks back on Clueless fondly, and is excited to know that a musical will be hitting Off-Broadway. Specifically, Rudd hopes his favorite Clueless scene gets adapted, where Cher, Josh, and Cher’s father hear a ring and all whip out their flip phones at the same time. Rudd loves the scene because it was cutting edge at the time, before even ten-year-olds had cellphones.
Hollywood can be glamorous, but at the end of the day it is a field that is a lot like others; sometimes you have to take roles you don’t like to further your career. In Rudd’s case, he decided against that route. Rudd believed that no matter the challenges he’d face, he would only take roles that personally interested him. He’s generally attracted to starring in a film if it’s a film he’d be interested in seeing.
An interview for Role Models just has to have the question, “Do you have any personal role models?” Rudd answered that Paul Newman is his. Newman is a figure he sees as a great example of someone who contributed a lot to the world before leaving it.
Rudd grew up loving football, and his interest in sports hasn’t waned as he’s got older, since he spends most of his time watching sports. He grew up outside Kansas City, so he is a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and also follows the Kansas City Royals. When the Royals earned a World Series spot in 2014, Rudd declared (to a local news camera) “Party at my mom’s! She’s out of town, I’ve got a keg, it’s gonna be sweet.” But I know from personal experience Rudd isn’t actually cool with strangers showing up unannounced.
One of Rudd’s roles that has gone under the radar is his part in The Catcher Was a Spy, a World War II thriller that got a limited release in June 2018. The film follows a one-time Boston Red Sox catcher who is hired by the OSS (a predecessor of the CIA) to kill a German scientist working for Hitler. It's based on a true story.
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As much as a fans might love watching a Paul Rudd interview, Rudd admits he’s never been a fan of the process. The whole work of an interview feels filtered to him, and also traps him in a cycle where he feels like his answers to old questions (e.g. "how did you feel about getting this role?") become part of a script he has to follow in future interviews, even if the real answer is more complex or different.
Due to its box office success and the success of Marvel films as a whole, you would assume that Ant-Man is the film that fans ask Rudd about the most. However, Rudd reveals fans still ask him about his Clueless days more than any other role.
Growing up, Rudd loved the work of Steve Martin, along with other comedy legends like Mel Brooks. While at a dinner party, Rudd was sharing his love of Martin's character names, especially "Gern Blanston." Another attendee then immediately realized that Martin was the inspiration behind none other than Judd Apatow’s bizarre email address, which contained the name Gern. Rudd then cold-emailed Apatow, Apatow sent one back, and you can guess how the story goes from there. As a cherry on top, Martin also sent Rudd a signed copy of his memoir, with the autograph made out from "Gern."
After six months of being a ham glazer, Rudd moved to LA and was able to secure roles on two TV shows, Sisters and Wild Oats. Sisters was a recurring role, but Wild Oats was a leading one, though it only lasted four episodes. However, this short-lived role was enough to get director Amy Heckerling’s attention, and led to Rudd’s breakout role on Clueless.
Prior to Ant-Man, Rudd had memorable appearances in Judd Apatow films like The 40 Year Old Virgin, as well as films that people probably thought were Apatow films (I Love You, Man). Rudd describes the roles as a “left turn” in his career, not a bad one, but a route that was unexpected, since he envisioned himself doing a variety of different roles instead of being known as a comedy actor.
Rudd doesn’t like talking about working out too much: "If I start talking in terms of lats and delts and reps and sets, kill me." However, he did share some of the details of his Ant-Man diet and workout. Salmon and beets were the biggest staples of his diet. Cardio was the majority of his exercise, typically followed by about an hour of weight training.
We all dream of the moment when we’re doing what we love for a living, and truly realize we made it. Maybe a random passerby asks for an autograph or we get an interview on a show we used to watch. For Rudd, one of those moments came when he was doing a New York Times crossword and saw that one of the answers was his name.
Rudd has a great appreciation for how fans’ love of fictional characters can bridge political divides. If you’ve been to the YouTube comment section of a movie trailer, you might disagree. However, Rudd believes properties like Captain America are a middle ground between different viewpoints. Places like Comic-Con offer an arena where they coexist peacefully, according to Rudd.
Rudd has two children, a son Jack (12) and daughter Darby (eight), and admits that fatherhood and the death of his own dad have made him a more sensitive person. He recalls crying watching shows such as Undercover Boss, finding that he empathizes with the people on screen more than he used to. Likeable, successful, and sensitive, what more do you want, ladies?
Rudd’s parents are both British-born, and Rudd actually returned to the motherland before hitting it big, studying Jacobean drama in England. Rudd still looks back on his time in the UK fondly, appreciating his family’s connection to the country and taking pride in working on English plays for a stint. Rudd also finds humor in the fact that he has since made a living “telling boner jokes.”
Marvel was committed to avoiding leaks of the Ant-Man suit, wanting the media to get pictures only on the studio's own terms. As a result, he wore a cloak that covered him from head to toe whenever he was wearing the costume on studio grounds. The cloak, the Georgia heat, and the fact that Rudd says he couldn’t bend his knees in the costume probably made for some tiring days.
Even when Rudd jumps to new genres, he is still usually playing likeable characters. Rudd owns the label now, but does admit that being a nice guy was frustrating early in his career. During his twenties, he sometimes grew irritated with the branding he was given by execs, ranging from “has no edge” to “nothing dangerous.”
Rudd’s family moved to Kansas City when he was 10, but he was born in Passaic, New Jersey. Most of Rudd’s early memories involve New Jersey or New York. As Rudd says, “My grandparents lived in every Sopranos location.” I wonder if his grandparents ever moved mid-sentence.
As a child, Rudd had a phase where he was fascinated with English pop star Adam Ant. Rudd wanted to copy Ant’s look, even asking his mom to shave his scalp back so that he could emulate Ant’s receding hairline. His mom refused, but you have to respect Rudd’s dedication.
The lower back of the Ant-Man suit contained openings to which Rudd could connect tubes. These tubes were then connected to a briefcase containing cold water, allowing the cold water to be circulated through the suit, keeping Rudd cool on set.
Rudd originally wanted to be a painter, with a graphic artist as a close backup option. His priorities changed thanks to an unnamed teacher who helped him “discover possibilities within.”
Ever read the angry letters that get sent to a newspaper editor? If you read Kansas newspapers back in the day, you might have come across the Angry Lenexan a.k.a. Paul Rudd’s dad. The nickname came from Rudd’s friends, but Mr. Rudd owned it, signing his letters with the name. The most frequent targets of the Angry Lenexan’s rage were people who criticized things such as stem cell research.
Rudd believes his family stood out in Kansas. His parents were both non-religious Jews and also leaned farther left on the spectrum in comparison to their neighbors. However, Rudd still believes that Kansas City residents are genuinely happier and nicer than those who live elsewhere. Rudd says the kindness and happiness comes from living in an area “you know is not the cool place to be.”
Rudd has graced the stage in Shakespearean productions, and director Sir Nicholas Hytner, who directed Rudd in Twelfth Night, praised Rudd for his “emotional and intellectual volatility.” High praise, since Sir Hytner is also the director of the National Theatre in London.
Leslie Mann, Rudd’s Knocked Up and This is 40 co-star, describes him as someone who is “really good-looking, but he behaves like somebody who isn’t.”
Rudd and Adam Scott (best known as Ben in Parks and Recreation) spent a lot of time together in their twenties while they navigated Hollywood. Scott affectionately remembers listening to music and drinking with Rudd until 6 a.m in Scott's apartment, which was apparently pretty run-down. As Rudd says, it was a "bad, filthy, dangerous location.” Ah, sounds like your early twenties.
Rudd isn’t afraid to admit that a career in acting is ultimately about wanting attention. He finds it amusing when contestants on shows like American Idol try to rationalize the truth of this by saying, “I was born to sing.”
Aside from playing nice guys, Rudd is also known for his immunity to aging. Rudd will be 50 next year, but could still pass for someone in his 30s. Rudd’s genes have lead his friend Jon Hamm to accuse him of drinking virgin’s blood to stay youthful.
Humor plays a big part in grieving for Rudd, which is why serious moments in comedies he co-writes often include some jokes to soften the blow. He also recalls a cross-country road trip with some friends where he played a song that involved a blind father who dies. One of his friends took offence because his dad is blind, and Rudd responded with, “Well, my dad’s dead, so I win.” Rudd imagines his dad laughing at that joke.
The scenes that Rudd finds to be the most emotional are the ones where nice guys snap and spill their emotions, whether it is in sadness or anger. In particular, Rudd remembers crying in the theater when he watched Timothy Spall’s breakdown scene in Secrets and Lies: “…one of the most profound moments I’ve ever experienced watching a movie.”
Back when his son Jack was four years old, Rudd said he and Jack would regularly rewatch the 1985 Live Aid charity concert. Rudd described it as his favorite thing to do with his son, taking in the pop music of the 1980s with acts such as the Style Council and Ultravox.
Rudd loved comics as a kid, but superhero issues weren’t on the list. His go-tos were Dennis the Menace, The Bash Street Kids and Beano and Dandy: Desperate Dan.
Growing up with English parents and visiting England while growing up led Rudd to adopt the most stereotypical English trait: The love of tea. He doesn’t hold the American-manufactured teas in high regard, being spoiled on UK-manufactured PG Tips. Milk is the only suitable addition.
Following Clueless, Rudd appeared in Friends. Despite the show’s popularity, Rudd kept it real and describes the entire process as something foreign to him. Making a sitcom felt unnatural, and he compared the experience to his upbringing “being the Jew with English parents in Kansas.” However, Rudd was still able to make an impression as Mike, Phoebe’s love interest, and his performance led the writers to pencil him in as Phoebe’s eventual choice instead of the original choice, Hank Azaria’s David.
Captain America: Civil War was the first of his films that Rudd got to share with his son, Jack. Jack attended the premiere, and Rudd was “proud and nervous” for his son to see his work. As Rudd says, the best part of anything is sharing it with your family.
Rudd graduated from the Universty of Kansas with a theater degree and then decided he wanted to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Rudd had worked a few odd jobs, like DJing and delivering newspapers, but one that stands out from this time was a job glazing hams for the Holiday Ham Company. Rudd describes the job as pretty monotonous, but his description of the process might make you hungry. Basically, he would move sugar from a tub onto a heated ham and then use a propane torch to melt the sugar and turn it into a glaze. Rudd still remembers going home smelling like ham everyday. The smell also earned him the nickname of "Paul Ham Glazer," a play on actor Paul Michael Glaser from Starsky and Hutch.
Like the best of us, Rudd had his own awkward moments during puberty. Adolescence brought on some pretty bad acne, and for a while Rudd refused to pop any of his zits since he worried doing so would leave scars. Lo and behold, Rudd was hanging out with friends (including a girl he liked, Kelly) at a football game and had a “swimming pool” of pus on his chin. In true Rudd fashion, he resorted to self-deprecating humor, joking about the zit to play it off. It must have worked out, because Kelly was his first kiss.
Just before he started shooting Clueless, Rudd lost a friend in a car crash in LA, and he began to resent the town. He was then mugged and shot at while filming the cult hit. In fact, he had to go into work the very next day after the attack to film the club scene, still shaken. After some advice from a fellow actor, Rudd was finally convinced to make the move to New York.
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