Paul Rudd

From Anchorman to Ant-Man

AS PAUL RUDD GETS OLDER, IT SEEMS AS IF HIS CAREER CONTINUES TO DIVERSIFY AND CHANGE. HE’S TAKEN ON MANY DIFFERENT CHARACTERS IN THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, SOME OF WHICH HAVE COMPLETELY DEFINED HIS CAREER AND TAKEN IT TO NEW HEIGHTS. HE’S NO LONGER SOLELY REGARDED AS A “FUNNY GUY” BUT ALSO A SUPERHERO, AN ACTOR THAT CAN WIELD DUAL ROLES, AND SEVERAL OTHER TITLES. RUDD HAS HAD A CAREER OF LONGEVITY AND RANGE.

Paul Rudd has been acting for a long time—longer than most people might realize. The New Jersey born-actor first landed onto the acting scene in 1992 when he starred in the NBC drama Sisters alongside Ashley Judd. This opportunity allowed him to land his first notable role in Clueless (1995), one of the most beloved films of the 90’s. This film painted him as a heartthrob due to his good looks and charisma with Alicia Silverstone on screen. From there, he was in late 90’s films 200 Cigarettes with Ben Affleck and Dave Chappelle, rom-com The Object of My Affection with Jennifer Aniston, and The Cider House Rules with Charlize Theron and Tobey Maguire.

In 2001, he made girls swoon yet again in Wet Hot American Summer, another classic that allowed him to show off his compatibility with the comedy genre. However, it wasn’t until 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy that really got the ball rolling for Rudd to take off in his extremely successful acting career. This comedy film marked the beginning of his work with producer and director Judd Apatow, who arguably created a brand new era of slapstick and absurdist comedy that eventually became Rudd’s trademark, along with other actors like Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Jonah Hill. Apatow cast Rudd in a string of other similarly hilarious comedies throughout his career, only making his star rise higher and higher. There was 2005’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 2007’s Knocked Up, 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 2012’s Wanderlust and This Is 40, and 2013’s Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. These castings cemented him as a go-to all-around funny guy, making him the first pick for comedy films alongside his other funny peers and friends like Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell.

In fact, he even starred in Poehler’s NBC comedy, Parks and Recreation, as her character’s arch nemesis, Bobby Newport. The show was very popular during its time on the air from 2009-2015; it was even nominated for a Golden Globe and several Emmy awards. It’s no surprise that Rudd’s work on the show was excellent and very funny—he’s no stranger to television work. He famously had a short stint as Phoebe’s boyfriend Mike Hannigan in the wildly popular TV show Friends from 2002 until 2004. Friends started to air in 1994 and was at its peak when Rudd decided to join the cast. During his two years working on the show, the viewership was at an all-time high—Yet another smart move that allowed for Rudd’s career to accelerate forward.

“I went in with the awareness that one episode of that show was going to be seen by more people than everything that I’d ever done up until that point combined,” he said.

Rudd’s comedy gold didn’t stop with the Judd Apatow films, however. Other movie directors and producers took notice of the character’s ability to make an audience laugh out loud, too. He also starred in Night at the Museum (2006), Over Her Dead Body (2008), I Love You, Man (2009), Dinner for Schmucks (2010), This Is the End (2013), Sausage Party (2016), and many others. Despite his stellar performances and masterful use of humor in his films, Rudd has been snubbed at countless awards shows. Sure, he’s been nominated for some awards at the MTV Movie + TV Awards for categories such as “Best Kiss,” “Best Fight,” and others, but when it comes to securing the big-name significant awards, he hasn’t had much luck. His first Golden Globe nomination arrived just last year for his role as Miles Elliot in Netflix’s dark comedy Living with Yourself, in which he plays two versions of his character—the scruffy, depressed Miles, and the ideal, perfect clone of Miles. Although Rudd tries to shake off the awards show misses, it does bother him from time to time, because he sees comedy as a genre that isn’t as appreciated as it should be.

“It’s always been the case that comedy never gets the props that drama does… Jack Black in School of Rock is one of the great comedic performances of the last decade, and certainly some of the things Jim Carrey has done, and what Will Ferrell does. It’s easy to write them off and say, ‘Oh, that’s just a comedy,’ but it’s so much more than that. It’s easier to make somebody cry than to make somebody laugh, because everyone’s sense of humor is so different,” Rudd shares.

Perhaps this is why Rudd continues to cling to his comedy films, although he has certainly dabbled in some drama as well. He was in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Fundamentals of Caring (2016), The Catcher Was a Spy (2018), Mute (2018), and of course, one of the most recent changes and advancements in his career, his role as superhero Scott Lang/Ant-Man.

Those who are familiar with Rudd’s career and his type of preferred films, were shocked when Ant-Man first hit theaters in 2015. It placed Rudd and his character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and suddenly he had action figures of himself, placement in video games and other spin-offs, posters of himself on fan’s bedroom walls, and all of the other staples that come with being involved in superhero films. At 46, Rudd had reached a new level of stardom. It’s rare for actors to break through additional barriers at a later age, and yet Rudd had done it. Partially due to his good looks and his inability to physically age, Paul had landed this life changing role. And that wasn’t the end of it either. The movie went on to result in his involvement in Captain America: Civil War (2016), and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). Rudd was almost as shocked about his role as Ant-Man as the rest of the world.

“I figured early on [acting] was what I wanted to do for a job. And I certainly hoped it would work out, and that I would be playing lots of different parts. But I don’t think I anticipated being an ant!”

Rudd played Ant-Man in the last installment of the Avengers saga, Avengers: Endgame, which came out in April of 2019. A third Ant-Man film is confirmed and will be directed by the same director, Peyton Reed. Rudd will also reprise his superhero role in an animated TV show called What If…? which will be available for streaming via Disney +, Disney’s new streaming service, sometime in 2021.

As for another new project in the works for the superstar, he’s slated to appear in the new Ghostbusters movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when it hits theaters July 10th. “I can’t wait to join the cast…for Ghostbusters…It’s such an epic film. I love it. I’m a fan,” Rudd had to say about the new film. The new Ghostbusters will be an homage to the original 1984 picture—it will follow a single mom and her two kids who discover a connection to the original Ghostbusters through their grandfather.

In addition to the premiere of his new film, Rudd will also be pretty busy with his philanthropic work. He started the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend back in 2010, a weekend full of celebrity tournaments and performances that raise money for the Kansas City’s Mercy Children’s Hospital. This is significant because Rudd actually grew up in Overland Park, Kansas and wanted to give back to the community and help out as much as he can. Last year’s event had celebrity guests like Selena Gomez, Adam Scott, Ariel Winter, Chris Daughtry, Olivia Wilde, and many others. This year, the lineup hasn’t been announced just yet, but expect big names, as well as the hosts themselves—Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet, Rob Riggle, and David Koechner— to provide entertainment and laughs!
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Overall, Paul Rudd is a gifted actor who has faced many left turns throughout his career—each bringing him to new places and new heights. He has gone from a heartthrob in a famous 90’s film to a supporting character on a popular 90’s sitcom, to one of the main stars of a brand new era of comedy, and now he has worked his way up to being a superhero in a Marvel film! As he continues to test out new roles and genres in his career, two things will stay the same: Rudd’s incredible, generous, and good-hearted personality, and his handsome, vampire-like youth that seems to never evade him. By now, it should be clear as to why everyone loves Paul Rudd!

By Selene Rivera