With a busy Wednesday of two panels, a screening, and a concert kicking off the 14th Annual Woodstock Film Festival, Paul Rudd joined the five-day event to talk about his career, his idols, ‘Friends,’ New York, and more.
Starting his discussion with Joe Donahue of WAMC over a swig of celery juice, Rudd said, “I think we’re off and running.” The actor, known for his roles in ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,’ ‘Knocked Up,’ ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin,’ ‘I Love You Man,’ and many more, said he started to know himself best in his 30s. He adjusted to his successful roles as characters with “approachability” and was able to develop professional relationships with people whose work he enjoys. The response he’s most had to auditions or roles he didn’t receive earlier on was that he had “no edge,” but considering his accomplishments, it seems he’s alright being just who he is.
Preferring his life in New York to the ever-compared Los Angeles, Rudd shared, “If I miss out on some opportunities because I’m here, then so be it. I’m happier here.” With the heavy focus on television in L.A., being an actor in New York is more “historic and grounding” for Rudd. As a man with a family and greater passion for film and theater, his life on the east coast is his content choice. When he was in L.A. for eighteen episodes of ‘Friends,’ originally only contracted for two playing Phoebe’s boyfriend Mike, Rudd joked to cast and crew during the series finale over “what a ride” it was, the rest of the cast having spent ten seasons on the show. He did mention that an added benefit of the show was the suit from the ‘Friends’ wardrobe that he wore at his ‘Anchorman’ audition. It must have been the finishing touch.
When talking of his idols and early shakers that inspired his career, Rudd brought up “the national sense of humor” that he feels David Letterman played a large hand in developing. His nerves over being a guest on the talk show for the first time, not to mention following Oprah, were on humble terms. “Everybody wants to do well on that show,” he said. Steve Martin and Jack Nicholson were other industry names that came up as Rudd talked in admiration of the humor and distinct personalities they provided. With his background in theater from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in California, Rudd had few answers to the question on what his favorite playwright is. Offering Shakespeare as a given, he also gave Pinter as an option but he respects too many writers of a more recent age to ever settle on just one.
Getting his screen start from Amy Heckerling’s ‘Clueless,’ Rudd found a career in film and a knack for comedy. Working with directors such as Judd Apatow (‘Knocked Up,’ ‘This is 40,’ ‘The 40-Year-Old-Virgin’) has given him the opportunity to do jobs he feels are “rooted in reality, but find comedy in those moments.” David Gordon Green, director of ‘Prince Avalanche’ about two men (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) painting lines on a highway during the summer of 1988, offered a great deal of creative license in his comedy, something Rudd feels helped them “get back in touch with what it is we like about making movies.” Taking a break at the moment to be a family man, Rudd’s role as Brian Fantana in ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ is one for fans and box offices to look forward to. On the notion of ever directing in the future Rudd hinted that as a possibility, but would hate to give a solid “yes and never do it." With a goofy shrug and a smile he laughed, “because there’s a good chance I never will.” To that, and to his future, we shall follow his advice and keenly “stay tuned.”