Video: Paul Rudd on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna
15 February 2023
“AND THEY ALL COME WITH A SIDE OF FLEET FOXES.”
That was Paul Rudd’s first joke, and it came about 30 seconds into our lunch at a Brooklyn café, right after I acknowledged that the sheer number of toasts available on the menu—from avocado to burrata to fig—made this the most “Brooklyn” café he could have possibly chosen for this interview.
Avocado toast with a side of Fleet Foxes. It’s a 2017 joke, but, still, it’s funny.
He would deliver like two other jokes over the next couple hours. Okay, maybe three. Ten max.
Rudd may be singularly hilarious in I Love You, Man; Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; This Is 40; and even Marvel’s Ant-Man, or in a million absurdist Conan appearances, and don’t get me wrong, the next two hours would involve laughter, good cheer, and so much grinning my cheeks hurt, but he’s not comedic in person. Not zany. Not even remotely off-the-wall. Wearing a beanie, glasses, and maybe a day and a half’s worth of stubble, he squinted at me for about five seconds outside the restaurant before I realized it was him. He politely asked if it was okay if we grabbed a table in the restaurant instead of in the coffee-shop area. And when we got to the table, I asked him if he’d rather sit facing the wall because, you know, he’s Ant-Man and people might sneak a few iPhone shots, and he said, “Well, I do usually. . . .” The overarching vibe is chill, gentle, low-key, generous.
And thank God. You can watch Paul Rudd chewing up scenery in his movies or during any of his five SNL hosting gigs, or just clear your schedule for an hour and YouTube “Paul Rudd.” He is genuinely very, very funny in literally every single thing he’s been in. But as with so many funny people, it’s complicated. Fueling that humor is a hopeful weariness we can all relate to—especially now. His funniest roles are marked by equal parts indignation and empathy. It’s as if Rudd has played a confused middle-aged dad his entire career, even as Josh in Clueless, when he was 26. Now that he’s actually a middle-aged dad, well, his portrayal of a fool suffering fools is highly compelling. Paul Rudd’s gift is something more interesting than being funny. And, to me, more powerful.
PAUL RUDD DOES NOT come from a lightweight people.
“This is my grandfather David,” Rudd says while moving his iPhone across the table and showing me a sepia-tone image of three frowning chaps with their arms crossed. David Rudd is in the tightest ribbed turtleneck ever donned, and the other two—Rudd’s great-uncles Jack and Morrie—are shirtless. They’d be considered jacked if they were around today. Correcting for inflation, they’re swole. “My grandfather would tour all over London as ‘The Strongest Man in England.’ ”
“He and my uncles would travel around and wrestle.”
After making plans to write a whole other story about the Fighting Rudds of England, I ask him if his dad was fit like his grandfather. Not really. But his grandfather—who would change the family name from Rudnitsky to Rudd during a time of anti-Semitism in England—passed down a genetic predisposition to hard work and earnest effort. His dad—an airline exec—was funny, but the target of his humor was foolishness and idiocy. “He was pretty cutting. Anything that George Carlin said sounded to me like my dad. He was pretty clear thinking, no bullshit. He could get very frustrated by idiots, and he would never let things roll off his back. He could get pretty animated talking about something that annoyed him, which was a lot of stuff.” [More at Source]